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How beauty advent calendars became big business

Sophie Smith
14 October 2022

Thought to have originated in the 19th Century when families would mark the days until Christmas with a chalk line, advent calendars have since become a Christmas countdown staple.

Today, consumers can purchase calendars filled with all sorts of confectionary, as well as newer varieties offering gin, candles and even socks. However, none of these recent concepts have topped the success of the beauty advent calendar.

Whether it's makeup, skincare, haircare, fragrance or a mix of them all, beauty advent calendars entice consumers with their array of products, value for money and all-round festiveness.

This year has already seen the launch of a wide selection of beauty advent calendars, from department stores such as Liberty and online beauty retailers like Lookfantastic, to brands including Revolution Beauty, The Body Shop and Lush.

With some selling out before the festive period even begins, the buzz for beauty advent calendars is clear and this excitement isn't just from consumers - it's also from the businesses doing them.

For many businesses, beauty advent calendars provide the opportunity to boost brand awareness. They allow consumers to explore new brands and products, which often results in future engagement and conversions for the businesses involved.

Laura Thomas, Head of Lookfantastic Beauty Box, explains: “Advent calendars allow our customers to explore different brands and products, some they may have heard of but also brand-new ones to help expand their beauty horizons.

"It’s a huge new customer opportunity for Lookfantastic and our featured brands. Our customers get the chance to sample 25 of our favourite brands included within the calendar, and the featured brands get to see huge sales uplift from those who have bought the advent calendar, tried the brand for the first time and then returned to the site to shop the brand again.”

Emily Sissons, Buyer at Liberty Beauty & Projects, added: “Aside from being the biggest launch of the year for us, our advent calendar is a fantastic way for our brands to get their product into our very loyal, very engaged customers’ hands. Since inception, we continually see incredible conversion and uplifts every year.”

As both Thomas and Sissions agree, their advent calendars don't just benefit Lookfantastic and Liberty, but also the many businesses included in their multi-brand calendars.

Supplying samples or full-size products to advent calendars is a huge marketing move. It gives many beauty brands a platform they cannot create themselves, with the potential to increase their revenue and customer base.

Although, it is a gamble. No business can guarantee an advent calendar's success. Last year, Chanel faced backlash on social media over its advent calendar, after leaving customers disappointed with its contents. But, with so many brands getting involved with them, it seems the benefits far outweigh the risks.

EviDenS de Beauté highlights the positive impact advent calendars can have on a brand. While the luxury skincare brand doesn't create its own advent calendar, the business doesn't miss out on the fun completely. This year, EviDenS de Beauté can be found in the Harrods beauty advent calendar.

Commenting on the benefits, EviDenS de Beauté said: “We have seen from the industry that beauty advent calendars have become a must have for the Christmas season. For brands like EviDenS de Beauté, it offers a unique opportunity to generate visibility and awareness during the most significant time of the retail calendar. Calendars allow our customers a chance to try our bestsellers in a small format, giving us a real opportunity to turn them into loyal customers.”

However, it's not all about enticing new customers. Businesses need to look after their loyal ones too and advent calendars provide a great opportunity to develop these existing customer relationships, with value being an important part of this.

Advent calendars offer great value for money. More often than not, the total value of a calendar's contents far exceeds its cost. This year, Liberty's £245 calendar is worth £1,065 and Revolution Beauty's £45 calendar is worth £94. Consumers who have an enjoyable experience with a calendar and receive a lot for their money, are more likely to return next year to see what's on offer - meaning that this festive gesture could encourage future business.

Supporting this, Revolution Beauty's Senior Product Manager, Esme Morris said: “For Revolution fans, our advent calendar means they can enjoy the festive countdown with us, helping us to build a deeper connection with those who use our beauty products. Affordability and accessibility are at the heart of everything we do at Revolution Beauty and the advent calendar is another great way of offering our customers savings on our products."

Revolution Beauty

Revolution Beauty 2022 Advent Calendar

In addition to the consumer-centric benefits, for calendar's with lots of different brands, retailer's have the opportunity to develop relationships with the brands involved too.

Liberty's Emily Sissons, commented: “Given the scale, advent calendars allow us to broker new and deeper partnerships with brands as a tool for their launches. It is a business-wide operation and everyone is very invested in its success.”

Aside from the benefits mentioned above, beauty advent calendars are also great for brand messaging. Advent calendars can be designed to represent a business in an aesthetically engaging way, with most brands opting for a festive theme to keep their calendars seasonal.

Emma Lewis, Global Brand Manager Christmas at The Body Shop, said: "Christmas is a key retail period for us at The Body Shop, as with many other retailers.

"Launching advents is a great opportunity to engage with our existing and attract new customers, whilst building excitement around our upcoming Christmas campaign. Advent Calendars provide the opportunity to showcase our bestselling, newly launched and unsung hero products. It also enables us to form a connection with our customers by communicating our brand values and purpose."

Like The Body Shop, many businesses use advent calendars to promote their brand values. One value that's becoming particularly popular within the beauty advent calendar space is Sustainability - something that many consumers deem important.

Lush's advent calendars allow the brand to share its conscious and charitable values. Designed by charity ARTHOUSE Unlimited, the brand's 2022 calendar is made from recycled paper board and the ribbon from recycled plastic bottles.

Suzie Hackney, Lush Creative Director, said: "We wanted to create a gifting experience different to what is usually found on the market during this time. There is a lot of throw away packaging that comes with advent calendars. We knew if we did do one we wanted it to be something keepable, which is one of our aims when creating any gift.

"I like to think that the experience of opening an advent calendar can be linked to finding a little piece of treasure every day, our advent calendar boxes are about just that. We created a box that feels like a treasure chest that can then be used to store all sorts of treasures afterwards too."


Lush 2022 Advent Calendar

For beauty fanatics and businesses alike, advent calendars offer something special during the Christmas period. They are a clever marketing strategy, which helps to generate new business, develop customer and business relationships, promote products and share brand values.

With many advent calendars already in the works for Christmas 2023 (these things take a lot of planning), the market is only continuing to grow and we look forward to seeing what next year brings.

Read's round-up of the beauty advent calendars of 2022.

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