How OUAI Haircare's Instagram-First Mindset Drives Success

Hélène Heath
February 18, 2019
Last Updated On

Our co-founder and CEO Thomas Rankin sat down with OUAI Haircare's Hannah Beals to discuss how the cult brand harnesses the power of Instagram with data-backed creative decisions.

woman in mirror with reflection

Instagram-First, Always

For OUAI Haircare, everything always comes back to Instagram. It's the crux of its brand activities, community interactions, exclusive launches, and even product ideation. The brand's director of marketing, Hannah Beals, explained last week at the WWD Digital Beauty Forum that her lean team approaches pretty much everything with an Instagram-first mindset. Her opening line: "Instagram is definitely the number one driver of our strategy." Natch.

The OUAI team clearly understands the power of visuals. The business' founder, Jen Atkin, earned her stripes as a celebrity hairstylist and rose to major Insta stardom thanks to incredible talent and an apparent understanding of how to harness all that social clout.

No surprise then that most of OUAI Haircare's marketing activities are rooted in their Insta potential. "Instagram is no longer just a place where you drive engagement and reach, it's become a place you where can actually create and define brand value," says Thomas Rankin, our co-founder and CEO who shared the stage with Hannah.

In fact, smart socially-driven brands like OUAI Haircare use the channel for ouai more (see what I did there?) than just visual communication, but to also inform product development and deploy launch strategies. "We do a lot of crowdsourcing via polls," mentions Hannah, asking the community about specific hair concerns or unmet needs.

"We rely on the analytics and insights that we get through Dash Hudson to guide how we're developing packaging and formula," reveals Hannah. And when the brand reaches the launch stage, its social team uses Instagram to generate buzz in every way, from teasers to product education.

Limited Edition

Telling the story of each product is an important part of the narrative, and using Instagram to build hype for limited edition drops is a huge popularity driver. "We shoot a ton of content before a launch, and we can put it all in the Dash Hudson platform to see what images will be top performers," describes Hannah about our AI-powered performance-predicting scheduler.

"It allows us to optimize right out of the gates as we launch," which enables the brand to sell out of exclusive drops in a matter of days.

Foray Into Fragrance

When OUAI Haircare was exploring the possibility of a perfume, it turned to Instagram comments. The myriad comments left by fans expressing passionate discourse on the products' scents indicated to the team that Jen Atkins' instincts were onto something.

They went sniffing for data (fragrance humor) on Dash Hudson to leverage Instagram for the launch, notably our tools for sourcing user-generated content and understanding who's creating imagery that's resonating.

The Dash Hudson influencer measuring functionality, Relationship, was also a key functionality used by the brand to determine influencer and creator ROI of all the gifted packages post-launch, helping Hannah's team to primarily "identify who's the best to work with when we're creating content for a launch."

Using LikeShop, Dash Hudson's link-in-bio solution, is also clutch for OUAI Haircare to understand what posts are resonating the most on its own channel. In fact, its top four LikeShop posts of all time include three fragrance images, one of them driving the most clicks to the website out of any visuals they've ever linked to.

"Dash Hudson gives us a quantifiable read on some of the hype that we're feeling," Hannah mentions, which is a huge deal when you're entering a new product category like OUAI (emphasis on) Haircare did with fragrance. "You have to listen to your community and to your grit," muses Thomas, and it's über important to have that checked by some key data points to be able to confidently plow ahead.

OUAI product

"Instagram is a place where there are tangible takeaways, not just for branding, but for product development as well," summarizes Thomas. It's a powerful piece of knowledge that Hannah and her team have been privy to, and have been harnessing as both a low cost way to get the word out there and to connect with consumers on a daily basis.

"We do it all for the 'Gram," quips Hannah. 'Nuff said.

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