Digital Activation Gallery: Beauty

When stay-at-home orders were given in March as the coronavirus took hold, digital activations became more important than ever in the beauty category and elsewhere. In recent months, brands and retailers have used a variety of digital tactics to continue communicating with their consumers and shoppers. On the following pages, we present a sampling of recent digital beauty activity the editors of the Path to Purchase Institute have observed. Institute members can see much more related activity in the image vault at

  • Procter & Gamble promoted the exclusive launch of its Rooted Rituals hair care line at Walmart with display ads running throughout the retailer’s website. First spotted in February, the ads linked to a brand showcase that lets visitors browse by products that cleanse, condition or treat, while also offering instructions and touting the benefits of specific product ingredients. The brand also operates its own website on that redirects shoppers to for purchase.
  • CVS Pharmacy staged its monthlong, bi-annual “Epic Beauty Event” to precede major discount events at beauty giants Ulta and Sephora. The CVS event ran from Feb. 16 through March 14 and dangled $100 in available ExtraBucks rewards. Major brand participants included Pixi Beauty, Bliss, Physicians Formula, Ardell and Procter & Gamble’s Pantene and Olay. Digital support included heavy social media including sponsored ads on Snapchat and Instagram, as well as promotion throughout
  • Ulta Beauty leaned on its Sparked program – launched in 2019 and powered by virtual e-commerce startup Obsess – to give shoppers an in-store-like, digital shopping experience while spotlighting and prompting discovery of new and emerging beauty brands. Sparked enables shoppers to browse through multiple vignettes dedicated to particular emerging brands such as Carbon Theory, a UK-based natural skincare brand spotlighted in Ulta’s spring collection (and latest virtual store drop in May). Clickable arrows lead to a closer look at each of the brand vignettes, which highlight a few SKUs as well as provide product and brand details and video testimonials (often from the founders via splash windows). Users can add product directly to their carts without exiting the Sparked experience.


  • Sam’s Club recently elevated Procter & Gamble’s Olay Regenerist Retinol24 night collection within by promoting the products, which were released in September 2019, as “new.” Display ads touted the line’s night moisturizer SKU and invited shoppers to “Join the Retinol Revolution” for “visibly smoother, brighter skin in 24 hours.” The ads linked to a dedicated e-commerce shop corralling Olay products. A leaderboard employed a “wake up and shine bright” message.
  • L’Oreal’s Garnier indirectly tied in to April’s designation as Earth Month to elevate certain products within its brand shop on CVS Pharmacy’s website, inviting shoppers to “beauty responsibly with Garnier skin and hair care products.” The dedicated e-commerce shop touted Garnier’s commitment to “keeping the Earth green & gorgeous one bottle at a time,” highlighting collections offering eco-friendly benefits.
  • In April, Procter & Gamble’s Olay ran sponsored Facebook updates plugging an Olay Regenerist Whip moisturizer gift set available at Target for a limited time. The package contained a free ready-to-color box designed by New York artist Kelsey Montague, stickers and 12 mini-markers. The ads linked to the product detail page for the bundle, priced at $28.99 (the same price as the 1.7-ounce Olay moisturizer included).
  • Henkel Corp.’s Schwarzkopf ran a home page carousel ad on in April touting its new Simply Color hair dye as a way for consumers unable to visit the salon to achieve “gentle color at home.” The ad boasted that the formula does not contain any ammonia, silicone or alcohol, and it linked to an e-commerce product page.
  • A Dollar General home page display ad promoted new SKUs from the retailer’s Studio Selection personal care private label including dry shampoo and body wipes with shea butter. The ad linked to a brand showcase plugging the brand’s money-back satisfaction guarantee and encouraging men and women to integrate the products into their daily routine.
  • Walmart promoted “beauty at home” via ads running throughout its website, including on its home page, in the drop-down category menu and on various product pages. The ads linked to an e-commerce page grouping 14 pages of items including a list of “sponsored products” from L’Oreal. Some of the ads also linked to video tutorials spotlighting SKUs from brands including Revlon, Tweezerman and No Mo-Stache.
  • Display ads within positioned Winky Lux SKUs as “cruelty-free, luxury makeup & skin care that’s joyfully playful.” Earlier this year, the DTC beauty brand rolled out a collection of its cosmetic and skin care SKUs to Target stores, where they enjoy secondary merchandising space via unique, dedicated endcaps with pink neon signs.
  • When Hello by Lionel Richie fragrances rolled out to Walgreens stores in February, the music legend attended a promotional event in Chicago where he interacted with the retailer’s beauty experts. Video clips of the event were posted on social media.
  • Estee Lauder’s Clinique ran a Mother’s Day-themed Instagram story ad inviting consumers to swipe up to “play now for a chance to redeem blooming treats” spanning 30% off any online order, a free full-size item with a $50 order or a free limited-edition kit with a $50 order. The landing page noted that all items have to be in stock to qualify while also offering a “Shop Now” link to limited-edition gift sets and separately dangling a free full-size Moisture Surge lip treatment with any $28 moisturizer purchase. The destination also offered live chat or video chat consultations under a “We’re here for you” message, touted its Clinical Reality skin analysis tool as personalized online service, and plugged the launch of shoppable livestreams.