The era of social media has taken relationship marketing to a whole new level. It’s no longer enough for brands to understand and meet the needs of their target audience – they need to speak their language. Rio-based Lola Cosmetics is using this strategy to gain grounds in the world’s third largest market for hair care products.
The company was founded five years ago as part of the Farmativa group, which manufactured cosmetics for third-party customers. "We knew we had more to offer. We wanted our brand to have its own identity and values, so we used our expertise to make it happen,” says cofounder Dione Vasconcellos.
Lola’s products were originally developed for the professional market. However, three years after starting production, the company decided to shift its focus to end consumers. "We felt customers needed direct access to our products. The response was very quick and positive,” says Vasconcellos. Since the brand entered the retail market, it has reached over 2000 points of sale throughout Brazil and its first concept store is scheduled to open its doors in May in Rio’s Barra Shopping.
Lola currently manufactures around 80 different products – all of which are vegan, free of petroleum derivatives, silicates and paraffins, and made with eco-certified, cruelty-free ingredients. The company puts an emphasis on products for curly and damaged hair, which demand special care. “Lola has a strong commitment to environmental responsibility and the principles of ethical and fair trade. The ingredients we choose support our belief in sustainable beauty,” says Vasconcellos.
The formulations are not the only magnet that draws customers in. The products’ names – such as Sudden Death, Controlled Substance and Miracle – add an element of fun to the daily routine. “We’ve always wanted to challenge the status quo,” says Vasconcellos. Lola’s eye-catching packaging is designed with vibrant colors and vintage-style illustrations of women inspired by its staff members. The bottles are equally unusual, ranging from ice cream pots to reusable glass jars and spray bottles that resemble those of cleaning products.
The product labels feature playful and motivational messages. ‘Down with straight hair dictatorship,’ says the Curly Wurly line for curly and kinky hair. ‘I’m not here to judge you,’ says the I Know What You Did in Your Last Chemical Service (loosely translated) range, in an attempt to pacify anxious customers: ‘trust me, I’ll get you out of this.’ “We are not only about the products, we are about empathy and respect,” says Vasconcellos. “We want to empower our customers to embrace their unique and natural beauty.”
Lola’s social media strategy follows the same approach. With over 800,000 followers on Facebook and 400,000 on Instagram, the brand treats its customers (affectionately dubbed “lolettes”) as close friends. Slangs, emoticons, compliments and many exclamation marks are common features in the posts, which don’t skimp on hashtags. When asked if this approach could potentially narrow the brand’s target market to a younger demographic, Vasconcellos said: “We don’t cater to a specific market. We are focused on delivering happiness to our customers. And who doesn’t want to be happy?”
Mentioned by Mintel in its Active Beauty trend report, Lola Cosmetics launched its makeup range oH! Maria about a year ago and recorded a 200% growth in 2016. Vasconcellos says there’s more to come. “We have many projects in the pipeline. Hair care will always be our key product category, but it won’t stop us from continuing to create and innovate. There’s certainly an exciting future ahead of us,” she says.