2020 saw some of the toughest lockdown restrictions implemented in the UK, shutting salons, beauty shops and spas, forcing beauty and skincare fans to recreate their favourite self-care treatments at home. Searches for self-care and haircare reached around 5,400 searches in April 2020- the highest it has ever been before.
Whilst some self-care procedures are easily replicated at home, it would seem trying to get the same salon-results from highstreet hair care still left people wanting more with searches for ‘hair care products’ increasing a huge 140% YoY from November 2020, compared to the previous year. In the same timeframe, searches for;
- ‘hair care tips’ increased by 126%
- ‘hair care products professional’ by +100%
- ‘best hair care products’ by 125%
It’s fair to say, lockdown search trends indicate people were keen to find that certain product that could deliver ‘salon quality’ at home, wanting a hard-working product to do a professional job. One brand in particular saw this rise in interest as an opportunity to increase awareness for their unique haircare brand. Starting out life in a Californian garage in 2014, grassroots brand Olaplex championed their USP, having created a completely new category of haircare called “bond-building”, designed to physically rebuild and repair overworked, damaged hair.
Referred to as the “invention,” the secret ingredient featured in Olaplex products, ‘Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate’, had originally allowed professionals only to reach ‘new heights’ in colour & care. The key science behind the Olaplex products is the ingredient helps rebuild bleach or damage caused by colouring- something nearly 40% of women in the UK alone do every month.
Boasting well-known US colourists as brand ambassadors and huge endorsements from the likes of Kim Kardashian and US Vogue, the salon-only brand saw an opportunity to launch their professional products into the consumer market, starting with shampoo and conditioners before they took their seven-step oil hair care treatments to market. Tapping into a very real issue- over-worked, dry hair- that millions of people globally can relate to meant Olaplex started with a product that would immediately engage and entice consumers to try their products.
So, what’s their secret to success during a global pandemic? Arguably, a combined effort of creating a hard-working product that delivers results, supported by an ever-increasing digital presence and some very credible celebrity endorsements.
Since April 2020, Olaplex has enjoyed a huge increase in search, boasting an average of 135,000 average searches a month, compared to other salon-brands Aveda and Kerastase who remained rather steady.
Over the last year, Olaplex has significantly stepped up their digital presence across social media channels, collaborating with social influencers and featuring on cult beauty sites like Look Fantastic and Cult Beauty, helping to boost their brand awareness globally.
Olaplex: Riding The Digital Wave
Whilst many more established ‘salon-quality’ brands such as Kerastase and Aveda, still haven’t quite nailed the potential social media has for visual products such as haircare, Olaplex is dominating Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. Utilising influencers to their advantage gaining 700k views on single posts, it would appear Olaplex recognises the power of social posting. Since launching reels in August 2020, Olaplex has been experimenting with the format with rather solid success. Their most popular reels, ‘Olaplex myths’, have almost got to 100k views, which is particularly significant given that as an industry health and beauty brands don’t typically perform well on Instagram compared to sports teams and lifestyle influencers, despite the heavily visual elements of the platform.
Health and beauty brands looking to increase social following need to pay particular attention to the type of posts that harness engagement for hair and beauty products (old-fashioned photos) and focus on refining those before stepping into reels, carousels and other story formats. It would seem frequency also plays a part in the engagement too, with reports showing health and beauty brands that post more, generally gain more interaction on posts such as likes.
And it’s not just their social accounts they’ve been dedicating time to- on closer inspection of the Olaplex website, it would seem they’re paying closer attention to search engine optimisation too. There is evidence to suggest an on-page strategy or keyword focus on optimising landing pages, ensuring keywords are on the right page. However, when assessing the metadata for the Olaplex website the descriptions are not optimised to their full potential, neither are the header titles. This suggests that rather than a keyword strategy they’ve got to where they are by the website authority that’s developed from various linking domains such as Vogue.
In fact, an incredible 85% of their referring domains are “do follow”, meaning all of the link equity from huge sites such as Vogue, Refinery29 and Forbes is being passed through to their site. The highest quality links are coming from publications with references to “lockdown hair care”, indicating a whole new movement in the beauty industry created solely from the pandemic.
Our report above shows that since Jan 2019 Olaplex have really been ramping up their referring domains, suggesting they have been actively link-building which will have had a significant impact on their growing digital footprint. All of their referring links have resulted in their URL rating on the homepage scoring a solid 78 via AHREFs report. Their domain rating is excellent too, scoring 76 which will be helping them to rank as these are great trust signals. Rather than having just a loose keyword strategy in place, they’ve got to where they are online by the authority their website has.
If Olaplex is serious about dominating the market even further, more on-page content and regular blog posts, coupled with a bit of keyword research and uniquely written meta titles and descriptions would increase their visibility even further.
How Brands Can Harness The Same Interest For 2021
Consumer behaviour across the globe changed for 2020 with a significant switch to online purchases and it’s likely to stay that way for 2021. In order to keep up with consumer demands, beauty and self-care brands will need to prioritise their digital presence, like Olaplex do, in order to capture the attention of their new and existing customers.
Investing money in the right places will depend on the brand and their main audiences; Instagram may work well for Olaplex as they mix influencers with popular myth-busters but it might not suit all beauty brands. If a brand struggles with social followers, paid advertising on the right channels would be a great starter for 10 for emerging brands looking to gain exposure in our busy timelines. Creating content on your own website via blogs, articles and other forms is another great way to keep people engaged whilst reaching more potential for exposure in search results as consumers continue to seek advice for their DIY self-care treatments.
As Olaplex demonstrates perfectly, featuring in third-party content is one of the best ways to grow a website’s domain authority and overall performance in search. Whether it’s a paid PR piece or a product so good everyone wants to talk about it, those do-follow links can make a huge difference to a site that isn’t even SEO optimised. If you’re sceptical about securing a mention in some of the world’s biggest publications, providing advice or comment on certain topics is a great way to gain brand exposure and build authority within your industry as an emerging brand. Even if your product or brand hasn’t reached the awareness it deserves, proving credibility through sharing knowledge is a great way to raise your profile accordingly.
As consumers in the UK continue life in lockdown and the US tightening restrictions, buying behaviours are set to continue their online shift for 2021 with a predominant focus on haircare and DIY self-care treatments. With 66% of UK consumers conscious of budgets being impacted by the pandemic, 2021 could see a decline in consumers returning to the salons when they open once more meaning brands need to continue their focus online.