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Pathmatics Blog
Retail, Display Ads, CPG |


Self Care Summer: 2021 Digital Ad Regimen

September 06 2021 by Sarah Fleishman

Last summer, many brands and industries put their advertising/marketing initiatives on the backburner due to the challenging media landscape. But this summer told a different story. For the beauty and personal care industry, big players like L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Procter & Gamble (P&G) are spending heavily on Desktop Video and Instagram to reach consumers who are heading back out into society. We’ll take a look at how the above brands have been using these channels to promote their products this year and how it compares to last year.

So Long, 2020; Hello, 2021

Across the board, brand spending from June 1, 2021, to August 23, 2021, looks different from the same time period in 2020. Some brands, like L’Oreal and Estee Lauder, have increased their spending considerably. In fact, L’Oreal almost doubled its spending; investing $78M total in digital advertising with a focus on Instagram.  Within that spend, $28.3M went towards cosmetics, $21.6M went towards skincare, $7M went towards haircare, and almost $21M on multi-category ads. During Summer 2020, L’Oreal only spent $41M on advertising with a bigger focus on Desktop Video ads at $20M. 


Estee Lauder also spent more on digital advertising this year compared to last. However, the company’s spending is substantially smaller. Estee Lauder spent $12M during summer 2021 with 68% of that going toward advertising the corporation ($8.2M). Spending on skincare followed with $1.5M (12%) and then cosmetics with $1.3M (11%). Haircare and shaving/grooming were its lowest invested products with $851K(7%) and $149K(1%), respectively.

While the total spend at $12M is only 15% of what its competitor L’Oreal spent, this is still a 280% increase over their spend the year prior.  In the summer of 2020, Estee Lauder spent only ($4.3M). on digital advertising, primarily on Instagram and Facebook $2M(48%) and $1.8M (42%), respectively.

An outlier to this trend is P&G who spent less on beauty and haircare in the summer of 2021 than it had in 2020. Of P&G’s $100M total spend in digital advertising, beauty and personal care products made up the biggest portion of the spend, almost $56M in 2021. Last year, the beauty and personal care spending was even higher,  $90M (of $182M total portfolio spend). Perhaps P&G was taking advantage of L’Oreal and Estee Lauder’s smaller ad presence? 

High Spending on Social Media

In the summer of 2021, L’Oreal spent almost $43M, 53% of the total digital advertising spend on  social media channels. The majority $30.3M (38%)  going toward Instagram. They spent an additional $11.9M (15%), on Facebook and only $348K (less than 1%) on Twitter. L’Oreal is betting big on Instagram for 2021. In 2020, the company spent less than half of that -  $15.9M on social media with Instagram totaling at $10.6M (25%), Facebook at $4.9M (12%) and Twitter at $433K (1%). 

Estee Lauder‘s media split looked similar, with the company spending $6M (50%) on Instagram, $5.1M (42%) on Facebook and $0 on Twitter. This social spend is up from last year, 300% on both Instagram and Facebook, indicating that the company is taking a divide and conquer approach with these channels. 

During summer 2021, the most expensive spend against a single piece of creative was a Facebook ad ($855K) promoting Estee Lauder’s free-gift-set-with-purchase at Dillard’s. An identical Facebook ad was also published, worth $239K. Back in summer 2020, a similar Facebook ad about the Dillard’s gift set was worth almost $44K. Estee Lauder publishing this ad twice this summer and increasing the spending by 1,943% indicates this was a very popular deal and that advertising a free gift with purchase entices A LOT of consumers to spend.

P&G also spent heavily on social media, spending 53% of its digital advertising budget (about $30M) on paid social. On Instagram, they spent $22.3M (40%), followed by Facebook with $5.2M (9%). Out of the three personal care brands, they were the top spender on Twitter, spending  $2.5M (4%) on the platform. In 2020, P&G spent more than double this year’s spend($63M). The brand invested $47M on Instagram (52%), $15.2M on Facebook (17%), and $760K on Twitter (1%). 

Last year P&G held the same top social media ad count as Estee Lauder with seven creatives (four on Instagram and three on Facebook), however, it had more prominence on socials with ads ranging from $724K to $1.6M, while Estee Lauder’s top social media creative was a Facebook ad that clocked in at almost $70K. In 2021, only one of P&G’s top 10 creatives was a social media ad (a Native Facebook ad worth $419K). The other nine creatives were big Desktop Video ads, which we’ll explore in the next section.

Increase in Desktop Video Ads

Social ads weren’t the only place where brands spent big in 2021. Desktop video continues to represent a significant part of the digital advertising mix for these personal care brands.  

In the summer of 2021, L’Oreal invested $28M (36%) of its digital advertising budget on Desktop Video ads. This shows a modest increase from last year’s spend, which was at almost $20M and 48% of the brands total spend.

L’Oreal spent big on individual pieces of creative, with some videos garnering as much as $1.3M of the spend. The top three sites for L’Oreal’s video ads were YouTube.com ($27M), AllRecipes.com ($574K), and Yahoo.com ($547K). Last year was similar in terms of spending heavily on single pieces of creative, with the highest promoted videos garnering between $335K to $1.4M in spend. The top three sites for their video ads last year were YouTube.com ($14M), FoxNews.com ($1.5M) and Finance.Yahoo.com ($724K).

Among the three brands we’re looking at today, Estee Lauder invested the least in Desktop Video ads. Still, the brand’s investment towards Desktop Video ads is greater in 2021 ($653K) than in 2020 ($267K).  Among the top 10 creatives for summer 2021, Estee Lauder invested in four Desktop Video ads ranging from $68K to $148K on YouTube.com ($644K). Last summer, three of the company’s top 10 creatives were Desktop Video ads ranging from $67K to $91K for Youtube.com ($186K), NaturallyCurly.com ($58K) and Essence.com ($12K).

Once again an outlier, P&G kept its Desktop Video ad spend pretty consistent from 2021 at $21.3M (38%) compared to 2020 at $21.4 (24%) YoY. Despite P&G’s overall budget being less in 2021, the higher share of Desktop Video ads indicates that the brand sees the value and effectiveness of video ads and didn't decrease its spending here as greatly as in other areas. For the Secret brand, P&G invested in five Desktop Video ads in their top 10 creatives to promote a campaign starring Serena Williams and Camila Mendes for Secret’s line of women’s antiperspirant.  The most expensive creative in this series was worth $971K and the top sites for these ads were YouTube.com ($19M), SneakerNews.com ($1.7M) and Yahoo.com ($841K). 

Unlike this year’s heavy video focus, P&G’s top 10 creatives for summer 2020 only included three Desktop Video ads ranging from $737K to $2M. The top sites for these ads were YouTube ($18M), Twitch.tv ($1.5M) and Yahoo ($971K).

A Strategy for Wellness

Following a challenging year, attention to personal grooming and wellness has seen a spike as many are looking to step back outside this summer. From our analysis, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and P&G are spending big to reach these consumers and focusing their spending on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and general news sites.  

About Author
Sarah Fleishman

With over a decade of experience across digital marketing, content, creative, and PR, Sarah is a creative and dynamic thinker who loves to delight clients with unique and relatable content. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology.

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