Beauty Marketers Must Put Their Best Face Forward

Article Featured Image

they used to create their look. It's part of a larger ecosystem within Sephora that includes presences on social networks, as well as Sephora-created videos, a blog called The Glossy, and the online community Beauty Talk.

Combining editorial with e-commerce is an increasingly popular strategy. The e-commerce start-up Beautylish melds an active online community, blog posts, and boutiques that allow users to buy products from different brands. Cosmetics company Estee Lauder signed a partnership with the blogger behind Cupcakes and Cashmere, Emily Schuman, creating an "Emily's Picks" section on the Estee Lauder Web site. Glamour, a magazine put out by Conde Nast, publisher of Allure, has a section on its Web site called "Shop Glamour" that enables people to browse and purchase the editors' picks within the site.

Ovation Hair, an e-commerce hair-care brand whose Cell Therapy system is designed to improve the health of hair, sees many customers peruse its testimonials section before committing to a purchase. "We're finding that testimonials are critical. Word of mouth is critical. The more we have of that, the better," says Bob Wells, Ovation Hair's chief operating officer and chief financial officer. YouTube videos produced by the brand include people looking to fix hair problems that developed after chemotherapy or a pregnancy. "It's the avenue for people to talk about their own personal situation...if you listen to those videos, it brings a tear to your eye. It's stunning the impact [hair] can have on someone's life," Wells says.

Beauty brands have long relied on testimonials to develop trust and sell their product; social and editorial content iterates on that time-tested formula. "If you thumb through a magazine and look at the traditional Cover Girl [ads], they almost always have a celebrity wearing the makeup," Collins offers. Other brands do too. "Think of Aveeno and Jennifer Aniston," he says. Thanks to the Internet, the number of influencers and mini-celebrities has multiplied. Understanding how to take advantage of these authentic advocates is key to a beauty brand's success, especially, Collins notes, for smaller brands that don't have the budget to net a big celebrity.

Tip 3: Personalize the Experience

In a Sephora store one afternoon, a beauty consultant swabbed my face clear of any makeup, like a nurse disinfecting a patient. She held up a Color IQ light sensor to my forehead, cheek, and neck, trying to determine which cosmetic products, from creams to powders to cream foundations, would most perfectly match my skin tone. A list of two dozen products came up on a screen, and the same list was emailed to me for future reference. It's no surprise that I walked out with a new product. The experience was Sephora + Pantone Color IQ, which matches a Pantone reading of your face with a list of products that should complement your skin tone. This is one of the ways that Sephora is making the retail experience better through a combination of technology and personalization.

"It really begins with consumer insight," says Deborah Yeh, marketing vice president at Sephora. "One of the most challenging problems a woman faces in her beauty routine is finding the right foundation. We have seen clients try up to seven foundations before they find the perfect match," she says. Since introducing the program last year, Sephora has seen improvements in two key metrics. Sales of foundation went up, and measures of customer satisfaction, known as Sephora Love scores, "went up significantly" among people who had tried Color IQ.

"It really is killer information," Yeh says. "We now know what skin tones are representative of the Sephora population. We also have a database that has a really good understanding of the foundations available in prestige beauty, which gives us an opportunity to find gaps where we are underserving or overserving clients." The program is still expanding, as Yeh's team tries to increase awareness. People can get their Color IQ taken at different times of the year, as their skin tone changes. There's also talk of extending the Color IQ to different products, such as concealer.

"Beauty is an industry with a lot of rich personal information: skin tone, skin type, and different tastes and preferences," Yeh notes. "One of the most exciting things for me is seeing how all this information is starting to become something we can track at the client 

CRM Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues