Is Beautycon LA worth the hype? I will be describing the Beautycon LA 2018 convention in greater detail to assess whether this is a worthwhile event to attend.
If you are interested in learning about my experience at Beautycon LA, please keep reading.
Beautycon LA 2018: Ticket Selection & Preparation
Because I flew nearly 3,000 miles to attend this convention, I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that I had a worthwhile experience. Therefore, my friend and I spent a couple days evaluating what tickets we were going to purchase. The BeautyCon website made it extremely easy to compare the various offerings. Ultimately, we decided do purchase the two-day early admission tickets and they were worth it.
If you live close enough to Los Angeles to drive to the convention, then GA tickets may be worthwhile. But anyone flying in from the East Coast (or other distant places) may want to splurge on the Early Admission tickets.
Both my friend and I did not check any bags at the airport, since we were only going to L.A. for the weekend. However, due to the sheer volume of products that came with our tickets, we were forced to check one of her parents’ extra suitcases on the return trip home. Given this experience, if I were to attend Beautycon LA in the future, I would likely check a half-packed larger suitcase on the way down to Southern California.
L.A. Convention Center
Beautycon LA 2018: Convention Organization
Given that there were over 20,000 attendees and hundreds of brands and talent flowing in and out of the L.A. Convention Center over the course of the two-day event, I was impressed with the Beautycon’s organization. Each day, the staff and security did a good job at corralling the Early Bird attendees into lines, promptly letting everyone through the security check at 10:00 AM. Also, the staff showed that they were well-prepared by having extra wristbands on-site for those who lost, damaged, or forgot their wristbands at home.
On the first day, there was slight chaos during lunch time due to the extreme lines at each food station, as well as a lack of seating to actually eat lunch. However, on the second day, the Beauty Con team stepped up their game by setting up more tables and seating for everyone to eat comfortably. Seeing their swift response, I am confident that a similar issue will not arise next year.
Beautycon LA: General Event Experience
If I attend this event (or a similar convention) in the future, I will always opt to buy early admission tickets (where available and affordable). THE LINES WERE BRUTAL once the GA ticket holders started to flood into the convention center at noon. I
f I only had a general admission ticket, the event would not have been worth the trip because the sheer time that is spent waiting in lines to enter the brand booths, with or without influencers. Prior to 12:00 PM, the lines are much more manageable. My friend and I were able to go to the majority of our favorite brand booths during this two-hour Early Bird time period.
For those with early access, the convention hours were from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM PST; however, many attendees started to clear out by 5:00PM given how long everyone spends standing in line or walking around.
Beautycon LA 2018: Branded Experiences
Every brand approached its convention presence differently. Most brands offered consumers the opportunity to experience an Insta-worthy moment, free product, or a chance to shop (with some brands offering generous discounts). In my humble opinion, the brands that were most successful at this were Anastasia Beverly Hills, M.A.C., and Amore Pacific.
ABH offered 25% discounts on most products, an opportunity to play in GIF ball pit, and a chance play a game to win free products.
M.A.C. had live talent in their colorful, pop-up shop, hosted several influencer meet-and-greets, and offered steep discounts on a bevy of their cult classic products.
Amore Pacific lead customers through a curated brand experience, transporting them through various mini-rooms to familiarize visitors with the various key-stone brands in the Amore Pacific family. The company went to great lengths to interact with each visitor and to educate them on the Amore Pacific products.
While not a beauty brand, the TBS show Claws, offered Beauty Con attendees a cool branded experience – free manicures!
Other brands, merely wanted to have quality customer interaction and get products into the hands of consumers. Urban Decay and L’Oreal Paris showed up in this way. However, their booths left something to be desired. They didn’t create enough of an experience to make up for their lack of shoppable products. Fans of Desi Perkins or Manny MUA may disagree since Urban Decay hosted meet-and-greets with them.
Target, on the other hand, hosted one of the most engaging brand booths – they had a flower petal GIF booth, a flower swing set, and offered customers blush tattoos.
Finally, some brands offered customers little more than chances to shop. I’m looking at you, BECCA, NudeStix, etc…
Also, even though Cover Girl was giving away free product and had phone-charging stands, they were probably the least trafficked drug-store cosmetic brand at the convention center. At certain points during the day, they were practically begging for people to visit their booth. In comparison, Milani, NYX, Essence, and Flower had long lines of conference-goers, eager to interact with them.
Beautycon LA 2018: Discovering New Brands
One of the most exciting parts of Beauty Con was that I discovered new, intriguing brands, JOAH and Volition. JOAH is a new, K-Beauty inspired, drug-store brand launching at CVS Health. Without a doubt, they had one of the cutest booths at the convention – with flower walls, adorable pastel packing, and beauty stands for complete makeovers. Volition is a brand that focuses on co-creation of products. In other words, they work with real people to meet real problems, then bring those products to market.
While not a “new” brand, I thought that Kylie Cosmetics had a luxe-looking pop-up. For doubters, like myself, the Kylie Pop-Up offered a chance to change brand perception. Why? Because I had an opportunity to try her products.
Front grill of the Kylie truck
I tested the products with different formulas to see what worked and what didn’t. After trying some of Kylie’s cream lipsticks, I may have fallen off my high horse… 🙂 I was generally impressed by the formula and staying power of the lipsticks. They are very pigmented… so much so that I couldn’t remove all my swatches, even after intense scrubbing. In the end, I purchased a lip-liner and lipstick from the infamous brand.
Beautycon LA 2018: Missing Brands
There were a number of surprising brands that weren’t at Beautycon LA:
Make Up For Ever
Given that the above brands are trendy, I was shocked that they didn’t have booths at the event. However, I cannot presume to know their unique histories with Beautycon LA or their 2018 marketing and sales budgets.
Beautycon LA 2018: Panels & Meet-Ups
Outside of the long lines, I had the biggest issues with the brand x influencer meet-ups and the panel sessions due to the general lack of organization and appropriate planning. Beautycon LA should consider having fans sign up for select panels and meet-ups in the future to provide a better experience for attendees.
The influencer meet-ups waisted so much time because of the volume of eager fans waiting in line. My friend and I waited in line for over an hour in the hopes of meeting Drew Barrymore at the Flower Beauty Booth. However, we got so tired and discouraged when Drew was more than 35 minutes late, that we left the line. (Of course, as soon as we left, she arrived.)
On a cooler note, I saw Nikita Dragun and Alissa Ashley walking around the convention center. Had I thought of it, I should have asked for a photo (or tried to take a photo from afar).
Main-stage Panels & Interviews:
The panel discussions were troubling simply because there was not enough seating available for people to comfortably watch the in-demand sessions. Thank God for T-Mobile because they sponsored an elevated lounge that offered attendees a greater chance to see the stage. Despite the extra seating in the T-Mobile zone, on Sunday, the main-stage area was complete chaos because of the celebrity talent in attendance (Jordan Woods, Bretman Rock, Jonathan Van Ness, Kim Kardashian West, etc).
Here’s a low-quality photo of Kim KW.
Although my friend and I wouldn’t call ourselves Kardashian fans, Kim and her family played major roles influencing many of the last decade’s major beauty trends. Recognizing this, we waited for over two hours for her “fireside chat” at the Beauty Con main stage.
Despite our efforts, people (who arrived 10 minutes before her interview) pushed and shoved, whined and called people names, and got generally nasty towards others with slightly better views who had been waiting longer to see Kim. The level of entitlement and lack of manners that displayed made me want to vomit. Eventually some of the newcomer’s nasty tactics were successful because girls who had waited for hours to see Kim were pushed out of the way. Because of the horrible display of behavior, I didn’t enjoy Kim’s interview as much as I would have expected.
And other one of the Glam Squad.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy some of Saturday’s panels, particularly the “Inside the Galm Squad” panel that featured celebrity hair and makeup artists. As someone who is yearning to go to cosmetic school for formal training (and who hopes to someday work directly for a big beauty company), I was so excited to see these panelists. Again, showing the power of the Kardashian-Jenner family, many of the artists featured on this panel work with the famous family. Talent included:
While celebrities are often credited for setting trends, these are the real artists behind these trends. I have the utmost respect for each of these artists’ talent and hustle.
Beautycon LA 2018: Brand Marketing Mistakes
I’ve never mentioned this on my blog, but I have a degree in marketing and advertising, which I currently use to help brands reach their marketing and sales goals. As a marketer with passion for the beauty space, it is impossible for me to evaluate anything from solely one perspective. Whenever I am reading about, viewing content from, or working with brands, I am always thinking as a marketer and a consumer. Taking this into account, some brands made the most of the event, while others should re-think their presence or goals for Beauty Con. These are the most prevalent marketing “misses” that I witnessed:
Fail #1: Prioritizing social follows over email capture. Social followers do NOT translate into revenue or relevance for brands. Most social platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram are “pay to play.” In other words, many organic fans will never see the majority of a brand’s organic social posts (posts that are not promoted with paid support).
To be effective at reaching beauty enthusiasts and drive conversions, brands need to spend a considerable amount of money across the various social giants. It pained me to see brands trading follows for free product. Those brands failed to take into account that visitors could easily unfollow the account as soon as the free product was in their hands.
Instead of trying to garner social following boosts, brands should have focused on email capture. An email address can be used in countless ways, such as for retargeting current customers, creating look-a-like modeling, or inspiring purchase through email-exclusive offers. Moreover, emails can be used across a wide variety of paid media channels – including social media.
Fail #2: Not selling any product. To withhold product from the convention is a missed opportunity for brands to engage with consumers and produce sales. Had Urban Decay sold products, I would have made a purchase.
Fail #3: Only selling product. The smaller brands that were only selling products did not do enough to attract consumers to their booths or to create quality brand engagement. If the main goal of attending the convention was only to generate sales, then these brands likely did not get their money’s worth.
Fail #4: Misleading advertising before the convention.MiniLuxe, this is you. For those who may be unfamiliar with the brand, MiniLuxe is a prestige nail salon in the Northeast. Prior to the conference, MiniLuxe sent out an email notifying customers that they’d be at the event. Well, my friend and I looked high and low for them because we would have splurged on manicures from the beloved brand. Unfortunately, they weren’t anywhere on the convention floor…. because they were only available to those with access to the VIP lounge. 🙁
Beautycon LA Opportunities
This year, Beauty Con introduced a “wellness” area to the convention, but this totally missed the mark. The brands in the wellness center looked like they were an afterthought. These booths did not have the same elaborate set up as many of the traditional beauty brands.
Had better-known fitness, athleisure, wellness, or food brands been present the wellness area could have been a major element to the convention. Additionally, experiential elements such as exercise classes or nutrition could have improved the experience this year. Hopefully next year Beauty Con will do a better job building up the wellness section because this has a lot of potential for success.
Beautycon LA 2018: Was it worth it?
Insta-worthy moment 🙂
Honestly, I am unlikely to fly out specifically to Beauty Con LA again. I felt like many of the brand experiences weren’t much more than an Instagrammable moment.
Moreover, the lines that we were expected to wait in were ridiculous. No one wants to spend six hours waiting in-line for a few free products and a photo. Given that I flew close to 3,000 miles to attend, I wish there was more to experience at the event.
Regardless, I still had fun at the event. I left blown away by the friendliness and kindness of the staff at every brand booth. Some brands employed locals to work the event, while others had their own makeup artists and employees working their booths. One interesting element to the convention was the way each brand’s employees embodied spirit of their brand. For example, the team working the Kylie Cosmetics pop up rocked makeup that beautifully showcased Kylie’s aesthetic.
Even though I wouldn’t fly out to attend this particular convention again, I am not anti-beauty convention. I still want to try other beauty conferences such as IMATS, Sephoria, and Beautycon NYC.
Finally, attending Beautycon LA taught me some valuable lessons for future conventions. First, always take advantage of early-admission tickets. Second, be smarter about packing… aka check a bag (if your tickets come with a goodie bag). Three, always attend with a friend, so that you can trade off time waiting in long lines (to take turns visiting booths with shorter lines).