Beauty CX – sharing skills to secure sales
Beauty retailers and brands have tackled the challenges presented by the pandemic more successfully than most – those who have extended their clienteling services to include virtual consultations have seen the benefits in increased sales and engagement. But in order to keep up with customer demand for real-time, relevant experiences that bring the latest products and trends to their home, a number are now looking at one-to-many and masterclass services, as well as one-to-few events for targeted special occasions such as Mother’s Day and birthdays.
Makeup and skincare fans have proved themselves to be a willing audience for this kind of event, and they’re already very familiar with the format – YouTube tutorials by cosmetics influencers, often featuring collaborations with leading beauty brands, attract hundreds of thousands - sometimes millions - of views and have been a staple of beauty social marketing for a number of years.
With the increasing popularity of direct to customer services, driven by both current circumstances and the need to offer more efficient and value-added services on top of the in-store experience, one-to-many events offer the best of both worlds – the intimacy of a gathering of like minds with a common interest coupled with the ability to reach and engage an enthusiastic audience.
The start of something beautiful
The usual strategy for one-to-many services tends to favour live-streamed masterclasses and follow-along tutorials in collaboration with beauty professionals and makeup artists. The majority of current masterclasses use already-established platforms for longer-format content (Instagram Live, Zoom, Facebook Live) to connect with customers, and, while these events are undoubtedly popular, it’s worth weighing up the pros and cons to see whether they really deliver what customers need in terms of advice and ease of access:
- They use already-established social platforms, making it easy and familiar to the audience at the same time as providing a level of comfort and trust
- They allow for a level of contact/interaction through the platform’s commenting and messaging functionality
- The makeup artists/influencers are familiar with the setup, because they’re likely to be using it regularly for their own content
- As they use existing platforms, it’s relatively easy to set up a straightforward class
- Platforms are ‘one size fits all’ so brands have to adapt/work within their constraints
- They’re generally not integrated with brands’ existing technology for virtual consultations, product catalogues, payments and so on
- There’s limited ability to offer value-added services such as follow-ups and after-care
- There’s a lack of exclusivity – events run on platforms available to the general public rather than through the brands themselves don’t have as clear a sense of community and shared ‘special’ experience
- They’re usually not shoppable - while people may want to take time and buy later, a significant number want to be able to buy when inspired and in ‘buying’ mode
Mastering the masterclass
It’s clear that, to have maximum impact, one-to-many services should fulfil three fundamental criteria:
- The experience feels ‘exclusive’ and part of a community of brand fans and makeup artists/professionals – this bolsters the audience’s feeling that they’re part of something special and made for them
- Integrated functionality to leverage brand and retailer technology already in use for virtual consultations, customised communications and more, making comprehensive product information more available as part of the event and after-care/follow-up messages more accurate and detailed
- It should be easy for the audience to engage – with the makeup artist/professional, with the products being demonstrated and with the brand, through in-event discounts, offers and immediate purchases. Our own Beauty Innovations survey revealed that 84% of beauty customers want to be able to shop the products while they’re inspired and they are fresh in their minds as well as having the option to buy later if they want to take a little time to think about it.
The most efficient way to meet these criteria is for beauty brands and retailers to ‘own’ the process within their own retail technology, rather than relying on general social platforms such as Instagram Live or video calling services such as Zoom. Through managed integrations for product information and shoppable functionality as well as exclusive community and relationship building, they will have ultimate control over how it looks, how it feels and how the customer experience works, from sharing skills to securing sales.
With a background in marketing and psychology, Emma Newman is a talented Client Consultancy Director who has worked with high-profile clients across the retail spectrum. Much in demand as a customer experience expert, she has been instrumental in building customer-focused strategies for a number of leading brands.