- Content marketing
It is undoubtedly a challenging time for beauty brands. But, there are already lessons to be learned...
For many of us, life has changed remarkably over the last few months. In many ways our world has become smaller as our physical social-circles have constricted, while in another respect our world has expanded infinitely as we spend more time than ever before online.
Our screen time is soaring as we spend countless hours watching Instagram Lives and panelled discussions, and communicating with brands and friends. We’re enriching our cultural sides with virtual tours of galleries and historical sites of interest while, as we have seen in recent weeks, we’re wielding our right to protest. In a time where it is not necessarily safe to physically protest in large numbers, many of us are taking to our phones to have our voices heard. If online connectability was important before, it’s outright indispensable now.
But what of the beauty brands? Brands big and small who rely on footfall and face-to-face contact with their customers to not only sell their products, but to educate around ingredients and application and satisfy needs like product recommendations and, for makeup, colour matches? While some brands like Rituals had already embraced social media as a means to get up close and personal with their customers, there are many more who experienced the onset of lockdown on a far more uncertain footing. Brands that have traditionally relied on their on-counter ambassadors and the physicality of testing a product on the skin to connect with their customer and, ultimately, make a sale, have experienced a particularly rough time of it of late.
While the ultimate fallout of this pandemic - both human and economical - won’t be known for some time, there are learnings that beauty brands must take note of now if they are to withstand a similar crisis in the future. Here’s what we know so far….
A social media strategy is essential
We know that for some brands, navigating social media can be something of a challenge but if the last few weeks have taught us anything it is that beauty brands absolutely must carve a space for themselves in this arena. When you can’t access your customer directly through your in-store ambassadors, when you may not even have the capacity to sell them your product because factories and fulfilment centres are closed, your social channels are the only conduit for direct interaction.
The brands that are getting it right are those that are actively fostering a sense of community amongst their customer base. This community feeling, something many of us have been deprived of in the real world while social distancing measures are in place, encourages brand loyalty. Utilising your expert ambassadors in lieu of - and eventually, in addition to - in-store consultations, communicating directly with your customer via ‘Lives’ and allowing and actively encouraging them to interact, are just some of the ways in which to do this.
Beauty brands that invest in a comprehensive social media strategy will not just be better equipped to see out a similar global crisis, but will also be in a more solid position when life returns to ‘normal’.
Think digital first
We all saw brands scramble to bring their commerce and fulfilment online when the lockdown went into force. And, while it’s rarely acknowledged, there are beauty brands who believe that selling their products almost exclusively from bricks and mortar locations retains an air of exclusivity and luxury. Perhaps this is true to an extent, but the reality is if your online availability is lacking you cannot properly cater for your customer during a crisis. It also tells less able-bodied shoppers that their custom isn’t that important to you. This doesn’t make you appear luxury, just elitist.
Consumers have a long memory
The most important thing to remember during a global crisis (and at all times, if we’re being honest) is to be kind. Bad behaviour will be remembered and may have a dramatic impact on how consumers regard your brand. Allowing staff to work in unsafe conditions, ignoring customer emails and comments, spreading mis-information, misleading people regarding delivery times and capabilities, and attempting to capitalise on the crisis, are all things your customer’s are unlikely to forgive you for and, alarmingly, are all things we have seen in action over the last few months.
Be decent and be transparent. We have seen global fashion houses and beauty brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton and Jo Malone London, create PPE and hand sanitiser for the NHS, others have donated products to charities for distribution amongst care workers and some have even donated the use of their delivery fleet to transport vital goods to those in need. Customers will remember the brands who did their bit and will reward them with their custom for years to come.
There will always be a hunger for beauty
Beauty makes us feel good. Fact. This is why whenever there are times of crisis - political and economical - beauty sales usually increase. It’s known as the Lipstick Effect, and it shows that when times are tough, we often turn to small luxury items, a lipstick for example, to boost our morale. We have seen this in action during wars and recessions alike.
Interestingly, things have played out a little differently in this particular time of uncertainty. According to the retail analysts Nielson, lipstick sales are actually down by 62.4 percent, which likely has a lot to do with us not going out and socialising. However, almost every other category in the beauty sector has grown, including haircare and skincare. Net-a-Porter, for example, saw a 156 percent increase in homeware sales compared to the same period last year, and 130 percent of that increase was down to a sudden surge in candle sales. This shows that when times are tough, we will always turn to beauty to feel great and look our best.
Talk to the digital marketing specialists
We know these are daunting times for a beauty brand, especially when the existing ways of doing things no longer work. We understand it’s hard to know where to start. Let us help you. Get in touch with our Managing Editor Suzanne Scott for a chat.