Is Beautycon LA 2018 worth it? 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
I flew nearly 3,000 miles to attend this convention, so I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that my experience felt worthwhile. Therefore, my friend and I spent a couple of days evaluating what tickets to purchase. Thankfully, the BeautyCon website made it easy to compare the offerings. Ultimately, we decided to purchase the two-day early admission tickets. They were worth it.
If you live close enough to Los Angeles to drive to the convention, GA tickets may be worthwhile. However, anyone flying or driving more than a few hours will likely want to splurge on the Early Admission tickets.
Neither my friend nor I checked bags at the airport. We never thought we’d need to since we were only staying for the weekend. However, this was a bad decision.
We received so many products in our hauler bags that we were forced to check one of her parents’ extra suitcases for the trip home. Therefore, if I attend Beautycon LA in the future, I will check a half-packed suitcase on the way down to California.
L.A. Convention Center
Beautycon LA 2018: Convention Organization
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, but everything was well-organized.
Each day the staff and security corralled the Early Bird attendees into lines, promptly letting everyone through the security check at 10:00 AM. Also, the staff showed preparedness by having extra wristbands on-site for those who lost, damaged, or forgot their wristbands at home.
In contrast, lunchtime was chaotic on the first day. The lines at each food station were insane. Also, they lacked adequate seating for convention attendees. However, on the second day, the Beauty Con team set up more tables with seating for everyone. 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 continue to buy early admission tickets (where available and affordable). THE LINES WERE BRUTAL once the GA ticket holders flooded into the convention center at noon.
If I purchased a GA ticket, the event would not have been worth the trip. The majority of my time at the event was spent waiting in lines. In comparison, the lines in the morning feel more manageable. Thankfully, my friend and I visited the majority of our favorite brand booths during this two-hour Early Bird time.
For those with early access, the convention hours were from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM PST. However, many attendees cleared out by 4:00 PM.
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 at a discount. The brands with the best booths were Anastasia Beverly Hills, MAC., and Amore Pacific.
ABH offered 25% discounts on most products, an opportunity to play in the GIF ball pit, and a chance to play a game to win free products.
MAC. showcased live talent in their colorful, pop-up shop. They hosted several influencer meet-and-greets and offered steep discounts on a bevy of their cult classic products.
Amore Pacific lead customers through curated brand experiences, transporting them through various mini-rooms to familiarize visitors with the key-stone brands in the Amore Pacific family. In fact, they 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. In fact, they didn’t create enough of an experience to make up for their lack of shoppable products. However, fans of Desi Perkins or Manny MUA may disagree given that Urban Decay hosted meet-and-greets with them.
In contrast, Target hosted one of the most engaging brand booths. They provided 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 gave away free products. However, their main attraction was a phone-charging stand. As a result, they were probably the least trafficked drugstore brand at the convention center. In fact, they practically begged for people to visit their booth at certain points. In comparison, Milani, NYX, Essence, and Flower had long lines of conference-goers, eager to interact with them.
Discovering New Brands
One of the most exciting parts of Beauty Con was discovering new, intriguing brands, JOAH and Volition. JOAH is a new, K-Beauty inspired, drugstore brand launching at CVS. 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 clean skincare brand that focuses on the co-creation of products. In other words, they work with real people to solve real skincare problems. Then, they bring those products to market.
While not a “new” brand, I thought that Kylie Cosmetics’ pop-up looked luxe. For doubters, like myself, the Kylie Pop-Up offered a chance to change brand perception. Why? It provided me with an opportunity to try her products.
The front grill of the Kylie truck
I tested 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. Overall, the formula impressed me. The creme lipsticks are very pigmented. In fact, 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.
There were a number of surprising brands that weren’t at Beautycon LA:
Make Up For Ever
Given that the above brands are so 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.
Influencer Panels & Meet-Ups
Outside of the long lines, the influencer meet-and-greets and panel sessions were my biggest frustration. Overall, there was a lack of organization and appropriate planning. Beautycon LA should consider having fans sign up for select panels and meet-ups in the future. This would provide a better experience for attendees.
The influencer meet-ups wasted so much time due to 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. Thank God for T-Mobile because they sponsored an elevated lounge that provided attendees a greater chance to see the stage. Despite the extra seating in the T-Mobile zone, the main-stage area was complete chaos. The celebrity talent in attendance (Jordan Woods, Bretman Rock, Jonathan Van Ness, Kim Kardashian West, etc) was a huge draw.
Here’s a low-quality photo of Kim KW.
Although my friend and I wouldn’t call ourselves Kardashian fans, Kim and her family play major roles influencing major beauty trends. Recognizing this, we waited for over two hours for her “fireside chat” at the BeautyCon main stage.
Despite our efforts, we were harassed people who arrived 10 minutes before her interview. These girls pushed and shoved, whined and called people names, and got generally nasty towards anyone with slightly better views than them. In fact, the level of entitlement and lack of manners displayed made me want to vomit.
Eventually, some of the newcomer’s nasty tactics were successful. Girls who waited for hours to see Kim were pushed out of the way. I didn’t enjoy Kim’s interview as much as I would have expected due to the bad behavior of the people around me.
Another one of the Glam Squad.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy some of Saturday’s panels. In particular, I enjoyed 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, 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.
Brand Marketing Mistakes
I’ve never mentioned this on my blog, but I have a degree in marketing and advertising. Moreover, I use this degree to help brands reach their marketing and sales goals. As a marketer with a passion for the beauty space, I am always thinking as a marketer and a consumer. With this in mind, some brands need to rethink their presence at this event. 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 most of a brand’s organic social posts. (Note: organic refers to posts that are not promoted with paid support.)
To be effective at reaching beauty enthusiasts and drive sales, brands need to advertise on the social giants. It pained me to see brands trading follows for free products. 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 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 produce sales. Had Urban Decay sold products, I would have made a purchase.
Fail #3: Only selling product
The smaller brands that only sold products did not do enough to attract consumers to their booths. Also, they failed to generate quality brand engagement. If the main goal of attending the convention was only to generate sales, 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 popular 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. We would have splurged on manicures. Unfortunately, they weren’t anywhere on the convention floor. In fact, their services were only available to those with access to the VIP lounge. 🙁
So why tell customers you’ll be at the event?
Beautycon LA Opportunities
This year, Beautycon introduced a “wellness” area to the convention, but they totally missed the mark. In general, the brands in the wellness center looked like they were an afterthought. In fact, these booths did not have the same elaborate set up as many of the traditional beauty brands.
Better-known fitness, athleisure, wellness, or food brands in the wellness area could have been a major attraction. Additionally, experiential elements such as exercise classes or nutrition may improve the experience. Hopefully next year Beautycon will do a better job building up the wellness section.
Was Beautycon LA 2018 worth it?
Insta-worthy moment 🙂
Honestly, I am unlikely to fly out specifically to Beautycon LA again. Overall, I felt like many of the brand experiences weren’t much more than an Instagrammable moment.
Moreover, the lines that we waited 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 staffed their own makeup artists and employees. It was interesting to see how every brand’s employees embodied the 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 conventions. In fact, 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. In other words, 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.
Was Beautycon LA 2018 worth it? Catch up on my previous Beautycon LA posts to decide for yourself: