Monday, 6 March 2017

Cutting through the Marketing Hype, Blogger overload and an ever more competitive market



I have been writing about natural and organic beauty consistently for over four years now and I have been a consumer of natural brands for over eight. In some ways writing about natural beauty (I use natural for lack of a better word, because natural and green are a huge spectrum rather than a one size fits all) becomes easier the longer you do it, in other ways it has become significantly harder.

The green or natural space is booming; my inbox has never been so busy, whereas once upon a time it was relatively easy to keep abreast of the newest product launches, these days that alone is a full time job, without mentioning all the other admin that goes along with running a blog. With the space getting increasingly busy cutting through the "fluff" becomes increasingly hard, with ever longer and more descriptive press releases and brands scrambling to convince us of their USP. Sometimes it's very hard to not feel like we have seen it all before. I think new brands are incredibly brave to launch, but it certainly isn't easy to compete when there are brands who have been doing this ten plus years. On the other hand, some brands who have been around for a while are getting left behind by newer brands who are hitting the ground running in terms of their marketing. The depth of information and knowledge required to truly understand and convey the essence of the products as well as weeding out those not worth the hype, is in itself increasingly time consuming, it's a jungle out there and one that is not that easy to navigate. I feel like I have had to put on my Nancy Drew hat one too many times, to find out whether brands are being genuine or not.

Something that is also increasingly concerning for me is the huge increase in the luxury portion of the green beauty market. There is no denying that good quality ingredients cost more, if you add to that green beauty products often have a higher ratio of active ingredients and lack of fillers found in conventional products, then differences in prices are logical and expected. We all like a luxe product, however looking at some of the skincare routines posted on Instagram the products are adding up to hundreds and hundreds (if not thousands!) of pounds, which for me makes green beauty seem unattainable to most, when in reality nothing could be farther from the truth. There is nothing wrong with enjoying luxury products, or that there is in fact a market for them, I just feel like the balance is being lost slightly.

You don't need to spend a fortune to have healthy happy skin naturally, which is why I try and cover all price points and budgets, from simple DIY to luxe. Most people know and understand that bloggers often receive PR samples and have mutually beneficial relationships with brands, I myself have always been honest about that fact. I feel at ease because even when it has financially left me out of pocket I have always been honest and aimed to be informative on my blog, it's not worth selling your soul to the devil for the sake of a bit of extra cash, after all you do that and you loose your readers. I am not just a blogger but am also consumer and still choose to spend a certain percentage of my money on product, not only because I like to support brands but also because I like to put my money where my mouth is, as I feel it keeps me more grounded when reviewing certain products, even those sent to me. I feel it is too easy to loose sight of reality when you never have to pay for anything and it shows in some peoples writing.  

Something that people often ask about expensive products, is are they worth it? The answer to that is incredibly complex, the question is more a case of is it worth it to YOU. Ingredient quality, sourcing, size of the business and many more factors all affect pricing.  Brands of course will always tell you their product is absolutely worth it, but the reality as a user often can feel different, beauty is after all personal. Some people just want something that doesn't cost or promise the earth and I can see where they are coming from. Just because your serum isn't made by nuns under the light of the moon doesn't mean it won't do the job at hand. At the moment buying US brands isn't particularly in your financial interest if you are living in Europe and there is a lot of factors at play such as currency conversion and taxes; this was demonstrated by the recent May Lindstrom price hike and the conversation that ensued. In the interest of balance it isn't just May who has put up her prices, it's just more noticeable with her brand due to the circumstances. Although many will continue to buy, others will have to find an alternative and that is perfectly OK, there is thankfully plenty of choice.

Sometimes the space feels so noisy, so full, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The pressure to keep up with everything as a blogger, all of the time is intense. Occasionally brands don't feel that blog posts, mentions or reviews do them justice. All I can say is that it is very hard to be all things to all people, all of the time. I blog for readers, but I of course hope that I can maintain good relationships with brands in the process. If that isn't the case, in my opinion then it's best for everyone to part ways. I have always been good at saying no to those brands and opportunities that I didn't feel aligned with this blog and it's ethos, however I think going forward that I will have to take a another look at my time, my priorities and how I can continue to be true to myself in the content I provide. We all evolve and after four years I feel it's only right this blog continues to do so. I have come to realise saying no isn't at all a weakness but a sign of strength and one that will allow me to concentrate on providing content that I want will want to write and hopefully people will want to read. If you are a blogger I would love to hear, does any of this resonate with you?

Ana x


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12 comments

  1. I completely agree. It's especially hard having just started to use more natural products and see that most of them are a lot more expensive than non-natural counterparts. I know there are cheaper brands out there and they're the ones I look for but it's proving to be harder than what I imagined it would be!

    Kayleigh x
    http://hazelnutmusings.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Let me know if you need any recommendations Kayleigh Xx

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  2. Yes! Very much so. My main rant about 2016 touched on this. I also think that Instagram does warp perception because expensive black bottles look better/get more likes so it seems like that's ALL anyone uses, which as you say is not the reality. Many smaller brands see their products as their babies so take anything less than 5* glowing as an attack, which is a shame. People will always want to read honest, trustworthy content so good luck whatever you choose to concentrate on x

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    1. Agreed on both points. I am often dismayed when brands aren't open to any less than perfect feedback, it just doesn't make sense to me, after all feedback is essential for change and growth. Thank Lynda Xx

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  3. I completely agree. It is very dificult to be a blogger. I think you do it wonderfully. I follow your blog for quite some time and it is one of my favorites. Love your reviews.

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    1. Thank you Patricia, that is a lovely comment Xx

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  4. I really liked reading this post it was so relatable and i found myself nodding along with your writing and I 100% agree with it so much!

    http://alisoncromarty.blogspot.co.uk/
    Alison x

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  5. I agree. It can bother me when brands reach out who brand themselves as 'luxe' just to allow a hefty price tag. I had to turn some down when researching for my shop because I didn't feel that their products necessitated the spike in cost.

    On the other hand, I find it disheartening when people are new to natural and cruelty-free beauty and complain about the prices being too high. The truth of the matter is that most brands that are 'natural' (yes, I use it loosely too, it's a complicated term) or cruelty-free at the pharmacy are large brands that jumped onto that bandwagon as an attractive way to cash in on the trend (and if you dig, they often aren't as cruelty-free or natural as you would think). The smaller brands with amazing ethics that started their ventures on a foundation of strong values and transparency are going to face higher production costs. They truly care about the source of their ingredients and forego money-making opportunities like selling to the lucrative Chinese market because they honour their values over the bottom dollar. These are the kinds of brands I want to work with. You do have to be picky. But it is worth it in the end!

    Thanks for the post!

    Sarah
    www.lumabelle.be

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  6. Yes this resonates a lot with me. Especially coming from a similar niche with green living. My focus started as being very much about reusable menstrual products. And with popularity booming, I am finding myself getting more people emailing me about reviews. And I sometimes struggle to cut through the emails and work out what is the best course of action for me. Since I am finding some people want to send me a £5 pad, yet expect a lot from me in return. It's hard finding a balance and I've found myself saying no a lot because I simply cannot keep up with all the new businesses popping up, nor working myself to the bone for a product at £5. I even had one maker send me vile pms asking for the pad to be sent back to her that I'd used for a review, months after it had been published and sales had been made because of it. I find many brands and people don't respect bloggers and think we should be doing everything for free. I am now a lot more picky who I work with. I only want to showcase brands who actually respect me and have a good product, rather than just anyone.

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    1. Yes exactly! A lot of brands forget we are small businesses too, with expenses and our time to think of. I have a lot of time for those brands and PR's who truly respect me and what I do, it's those long term relationships that I want, plus readers benefit too from knowing the brand is ethical in every way Xx

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