HomeBlog for TikTok Industry InsightsInfluencer marketing success storiesHow CeraVe Transformed into Gen Z’s Go-To Skincare Brand [TikTok Case Study]

How CeraVe Transformed into Gen Z’s Go-To Skincare Brand [TikTok Case Study]

CeraVe Case study

In 2021, CeraVe reached $1 billion in sales, growing sales year-over-year by 75% and becoming the No. 3 brand by sales in the dermocosmetics market. 

This milestone was not just a reflection of successful product formulations but also a testament to CeraVe’s strategic marketing and brand positioning. CeraVe’s achievement is particularly noteworthy given the competitive landscape it operates in, especially seeing that CeraVe was competing with aesthetic-driven brands like The Ordinary and Glossier. These brands have set new standards by leveraging minimalist aesthetics and transparent ingredient lists, appealing to a generation of consumers who value authenticity and simplicity. CeraVe, however, chose a different path by focusing on clinical efficacy and dermatologist-developed formulations.

At House of Marketers, we always preach the critical role that positioning and brand strategy play in a brand’s success, and we are sharing our insights about how CeraVe were able to make it happen in a competitive market and with the even more challenging audience of Gen Z.

The Context: CeraVe in the Land of Aesthetic SkinCare 

CeraVe was co-founded by Tom Allison in 2005, with the goal of creating effective skincare products that were accessible to everyone. The brand collaborated with dermatologists from the outset to develop formulations that addressed common skin issues. This partnership ensured that the products were not only effective but also safe for a wide range of skin types and conditions. The brand’s emphasis on quality ingredients and clinical backing laid a strong foundation for its later success​​.

Since then, the beauty industry has undergone significant transformations, driven by the rise of social media and the increasing importance of influencer marketing. The growing trend of “skinfluencers” – influencers who focus on skincare routines and product reviews – has reshaped the way consumers discover and engage with beauty products​.

The skincare industry is fiercely competitive, with numerous brands vying for consumer attention. Initially, CeraVe was positioned as an affordable, dermatologist-recommended brand targeting older demographics and individuals with specific skin concerns such as eczema, rosacea, and acne​. To expand its market share, CeraVe needed to connect with a younger, digitally savvy audience without compromising its core values of affordability.

 

CeraVe’s strategy diverges from the more visually driven approaches of Glossier and The Ordinary. Instead of focusing on aesthetic appeal, CeraVe emphasises its clinical efficacy and dermatologist-developed formulations. This focus on functionality over form has resonated with a generation that values straightforward, effective skincare solutions. By prioritising substance over style, CeraVe has carved out a niche in the crowded skincare market.

“Part of turning this (CeraVe) brand into something that’s cultural is finding the brand’s best self,” said Adam Kornblum, VP and head of global digital marketing at CeraVe. “It’s about showing who we are. Once you find [the brand’s] best self, it becomes a bit easier to communicate who we are and what we stand for”​ (Glossy)​.

CeraVe’s TikTok Strategy 

Let’s take a deeper look into CeraVe’s brand strategy that helped them achieve remarkable results.

1. Leveraging Influencers and Content Creators

CeraVe’s strategic partnership with influential skincare content creators was pivotal. One of the most notable collaborations was with Hyram Yarbro, a skincare influencer on TikTok known for his candid reviews and educational content. Hyram’s genuine enthusiasm for CeraVe products, particularly their cleansers and moisturisers, helped the brand gain credibility and visibility among Gen Z​. 

Additionally, the brand engaged dermatologists who are also content creators, reinforcing its image as a science-backed, dermatologist-recommended brand. This dual approach of engaging both influencers and experts created a strong, trust-based relationship with consumers.

Embed: 

https://www.tiktok.com/@hyram/video/6888731443296587014?lang=en 

2. Focus on Ingredient Transparency and Education

CeraVe’s commitment to ingredient transparency and education stood out. The brand’s messaging focused on the benefits of key ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and niacinamide, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin​​. CeraVe’s educational content, which included detailed explanations of how these ingredients work, helped build trust and authority with its audience. 

By empowering consumers with knowledge, CeraVe positioned itself as a brand that genuinely cares about its customers’ skin health.

@hyram #AD: You’re Cleansing Wrong 😬 w/ @cerave 🙏 #skincarebyhyram #cleanseyourskinweek ♬ original sound – Hyram

3. Utilising TikTok’s Viral Potential

CeraVe effectively harnessed the viral potential of TikTok, a platform where skincare routines and product recommendations frequently go viral. The hashtag #cerave has amassed billions of views, driven by user-generated content and influencer endorsements. 

The brand’s strategy included encouraging everyday users and influencers alike to share their CeraVe experiences, creating a community of genuine advocates. This grassroots approach not only increased brand visibility but also fostered a sense of community and loyalty among users.

@bunnypenny007 wooooooow #michaelcera #cerave ♬ original sound – Dani

4. Consistent Messaging and Brand Values

Despite its viral success, CeraVe maintained consistent messaging that emphasised its core values: affordability, efficacy, and dermatologist-recommendations. 

This consistency helped reinforce the brand’s credibility and reliability, making it a trusted choice for consumers. CeraVe’s no-frills packaging also played a role in this, focusing consumer attention on the product’s benefits rather than on flashy design​​.

@cerave

Derm tip of the day: Before heading to bed, don’t forget your skincare routine! 🌙💤😶‍🌫️ #CeraVe #SelfCareRoutine #Skincare

♬ original sound – CeraVe

5. Engaging with Dermatologists and Medical Professionals

CeraVe’s early and continued engagement with dermatologists was a key element of its marketing strategy. By positioning dermatologists as both developers and endorsers of the brand, CeraVe was able to leverage their credibility to reach a wider audience. 

This strategy was particularly effective in reassuring consumers about the safety and efficacy of the products, which is crucial in the skincare industry​.

Results

CeraVe’s influencer marketing strategy yielded impressive results. From May 2020 to April 2021, the brand saw a significant increase in earned media value (EMV), with mentions of #DrugstoreSkincare and #AffordableSkincare generated $593.9k and $465.0k EMV, respectively, a substantial rise from the previous year​​. 

The brand’s collaboration with skinfluencers alone contributed to a 64% increase in EMV, highlighting the impact of strategic influencer partnerships​​. Additionally, the brand saw a surge in social media engagement, with the hashtag #cerave garnering billions of views on TikTok.

Marketing Insights and Lessons Learned

As a social media and TikTok marketing agency, we understand how crucial positioning and brand strategy are in helping brands grow. 

Here are five key methods that contributed to CeraVe’s extraordinary growth on social media, leading to its extreme popularity among Gen Z:

1. Building Genuine Relationships with Influencers

CeraVe’s success underscores the importance of nurturing long-term relationships with influencers who genuinely believe in the brand. This authenticity translates into more impactful endorsements and attracts new fans through the influencers’ genuine enthusiasm. 

Brands looking to replicate this success should prioritise finding influencers who are already fans of their products, as their endorsements will come across as more genuine and trustworthy. 

2. Adapting to Market Trends and Consumer Feedback

CeraVe demonstrated agility by responding to new market demographics and utilising consumer feedback to guide its marketing strategies. The brand’s ability to pivot and include social media influencers in its campaigns showcases the importance of being responsive and data-driven in marketing. Monitoring social media trends and actively engaging with consumers can provide valuable insights that help brands stay relevant and competitive.

3. Adapting Your Strategy to the Platform, Not Your Brand

CeraVe’s success on TikTok highlights the importance of adapting marketing strategies to fit the platform rather than altering the brand’s core identity. CeraVe managed to engage effectively with Gen Z without compromising its brand integrity using TikTok’s unique features and viral potential while maintaining its core values of clinical efficacy and affordability.​ 

3. Maintaining Brand Integrity While Expanding Reach

CeraVe managed to expand its reach to a younger audience while staying true to its core values of affordability and efficacy. Instead of trying to compete with other brands, they stayed true to their brand values and highlighted them to win-over a new audience subset – Gen Zs. 

This balance is crucial for brands looking to grow without alienating their existing customer base. By maintaining consistent messaging and focusing on product quality, CeraVe was able to attract new customers while retaining the trust of its loyal user base. We advocate for this balanced approach to ensure that brand expansion does not compromise the brand’s original values and promises.

4. The Power of Education and Transparency

CeraVe’s emphasis on educating consumers about the benefits of its ingredients played a significant role in building trust and credibility. In a market where consumers are increasingly savvy and sceptical, providing transparent and educational content can differentiate a brand from its competitors. 

Brands should invest in creating content that not only highlights the benefits of their products but also educates consumers about the science behind them. Our agency has successfully implemented similar strategies, focusing on transparency and consumer education to build stronger brand-consumer relationships.

5. Leveraging the Power of Social Media

CeraVe’s success on TikTok demonstrates the power of social media in amplifying brand messaging and reaching new audiences. By encouraging user-generated content and engaging with influencers, CeraVe was able to create a viral marketing campaign that significantly boosted its visibility and credibility. 

Brands should explore emerging platforms and trends to find new ways to connect with their target audience. Our agency specialises in leveraging social media platforms to create impactful and viral campaigns, similar to CeraVe’s approach.

Conclusion

CeraVe’s strategic use of influencer marketing, focus on educational content, and ability to leverage social media trends have cemented its status as a skincare staple for Gen Z. By staying true to its core values of clinical efficacy and dermatologist-developed formulations, CeraVe has successfully navigated the competitive skincare landscape and connected with a younger, digitally savvy audience.

Brands aiming to replicate CeraVe’s success should prioritise authenticity, responsiveness, and maintaining their core values while adapting to new market trends. Building genuine relationships with influencers, focusing on transparency and education, and leveraging the power of social media are crucial steps to creating impactful marketing campaigns that resonate with modern consumers.

At House of Marketers, we specialise in helping brands achieve this kind of success. If you’re looking to elevate your brand and connect with a wider audience through effective social media strategies, we invite you to contact us. Let us help you build a strong, engaged community and drive significant growth for your brand. 

Reach out to House of Marketers today to learn more about how we can help your brand thrive in the digital age.