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Why a loyalty app is the future of Benefit’s Brow business

Benefit bets on a loyalty app to drive Brow business

Benefit’s eyebrow range is the biggest part of the beauty brand’s business and last year it launched a loyalty app for brow waxing giving it, for the first time, a view of how people are engaging with the service.

The ‘Wow Brows’ app has been up and running since last November, allowing people to book a waxing appointment at their local Benefit Brow Bar. For every wax the customer has, they collect a digital stamp and, based on how many they accumulate, are rewarded with everything from a free brow tint to a free tube of Benefit’s massively popular ‘Gimme Brow’ product.

Speaking to The Drum, Michelle Stoodley, its head of digital marketing, said the uptake has been “exceptional” with over 20,000 users regularly booking appointments.

“A lot of our customers have been crying out for something like this,” she said.

‘Logistical nightmare’

So why did it take so long to arrive? The brand has been offering brow grooming services since 1976 and last year alone launched 45 new brow products. It had a paper version of a loyalty scheme in Debenhams concessions, but by Stoodley's own admission it was not particularly exciting, easy to manage or extensive.

The crux of the issue lay with the access to technology in-store, particularly department chains and other third-party retailers like House of Fraser and Boots. “Most [of our stores] are concessions within department stores and the control we have over the counters can be limited,” said Stoodley.

To ensure a smooth experience on the app, Benefit knew that the sales assistants in each Brow Bar had to have a tablets to be able to accept bookings and then when the customer was in, update their app with the loyalty points. But that process alone took around two years.

“It was a logistical nightmare as we had to speak to each retailer about Wi-Fi and working with companies that can secure the counter and manage the software. We needed to get that in place first as we didn’t want to launch something that didn’t connect seamlessly. So, now you can scan your phone on the tablet, in-store, and it updates the with a loyalty stamp,” explained Stoodley.

After overcoming the technical challenges and working with creative agency 1000heads to launch the app, Benefit set about marketing to the existing base of loyal users of its brow products. through an email and social campaign coupled with extensive PR influencer marketing.

Sifting through the data

The next step is actually harnessing the data it’s getting back from the app to fuel future marketing. It has started work on a tailored plan of communications for customers using it, and its in the process of introducing push notifications (which so far have a 95% opt-in rate) to “open up a whole new channel of communications,” be it reminding people to get a wax or alerting them to relevant offers.

But more importantly, it should in time also begin to understand how customers are shopping with it in department stores and if the app is having an uplift on sales across other parts of its range.

“Because we work with so many department stores getting exact data on the potential for use and uplift [has been difficult]. Also, it’s only been live for four months and women usually get their brows done every month so we’ll need around six months of data to start to see if customers are coming back and the stores that are being used the most.”

Stoodley declined to give specific targets or numbers, but the business is hoping that eventually at least half of the total number of customers using its brow products will also use the app.

“That would be the aim, but there’s a lot of data to sift through to get us there,” said Stoodley.

In time there could also be plans to expand into other areas. Benefit, for example, has a popular ‘makeover’ service that people could potentially book, or there could be a mechanic that ties to its other key products, like the ‘They’re Real’ mascara range.

“We’re playing it by ear at the minute to try different things. We’ve had conversations but it would be very easy to make [the app] very complicated and we want to take it one step at a time. But we wouldn’t rule it out in the future.”