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How beauty brands can connect with customers during a crisis

by Suzanne Scott

September 23, 2020

Customers who are forced out of stores and online during the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to stay there, or at least change their shopping habits considerably. It means beauty brands must rethink how they connect, educate, inspire and, importantly, resonate with customers. No longer can they rely upon face-to-face in-store customer contact.

There are lessons to be learned from brands and industries that have faced this challenge head-on…

From tactile to agile

Beauty is a tactile business. You want to smell a perfume on your skin before committing to it. You want to test shades of foundation on your face before settling on the one you want to purchase. You want to feel the texture of a moisturiser before deciding if it is suitable for your skin type. Yet the recent changes to how we live have removed these opportunities and it’s likely that even when beauty counters re-open, customers will not be able to test products before committing to buy.

MAC are a brilliant example of a brand who quickly re-thought how they did everything. As a makeup brand that heavily relies on their in-store ambassadors to sell their products, they have pivoted quickly, leveraging platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to reach their customers, and to disseminate their expertise via online consultations, tutorials and virtual try-ons.

According to Raconteur, MAC’s try-on AR filter, which allows users to test-drive colours online, has quickly doubled the brand’s online consumer engagement.

People power

No one knows your brand like your ambassadors. But, just because your counters and stores are closed, doesn’t mean your ambassadors can’t do what they do best. Hair salons, spas and treatment rooms have had to adapt quickly since the closures and in doing so they have demonstrated how to take a traditional, physical interaction and turn it into something just as meaningful online.

Renowned celebrity hair stylist Luke Hersheson, of Hershesons, has been demonstrating hair styling techniques on his wife from his walk-in wardrobe on Instagram, while fellow stylist George Northwood has been sharing advice on social for cutting your own hair (with a little help from his friend Alexa Chung). Celebrity colourist, Josh Wood, has been showing women how to dye their own hair, while Pamela Marshall, founder of Mortar & Milk, has been holding private skin consultations via Zoom with her clients.

On a larger scale, Gucci have taken their personal shopping experience online with Gucci Live, a video service that allows the luxury brand’s representatives to communicate with and advise customers.

Raconteur also reports that since cosmetic brand, Aveda started hosting live content with their professional artists on their social channels, they have seen a 202% increase in views.

The possibilities are endless. In May, Mediablaze facilitated a live Facebook Q&A with Volvo UK and Olympic and World Champion triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee alongside presenter Gethin Jones. Brands need to think laterally when it comes to online engagement.

Involving your audience

The conventional publishing industry is a good example. Authors rely on book tours, public speaking and in-person signings to generate awareness of their launch and stimulate sales. Lock down forced a rethink.

Chicago-based author Veronica Roth and her publisher Hodder & Stoughton had to throw out months of careful planning for the launch of ‘Chosen Ones’. They quickly came up with a virtual book tour on the gaming platform Twitch, where Veronica hosted chats with her publisher, her agent and other authors, while viewers could send in their questions. It might not have been the tour she was expecting but it did make her content, and the discussions around her book, accessible to a global audience.

Waterstones have followed a similar path with Instagram live interviews in place of in-store events. One piece of content saw Stephen Fry in discussion with international lawyer and professor Philippe Sands for the publication of his book ‘The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive’ (Orion Publishing). Potential readers could comment and put their questions to the hosts throughout the talk, making them feel part of the discussion.

Right on schedule

The wellness and fitness industries have also had to reimagine how they operate during lockdown. Instagram lives, IGTV’s and Zoom classes have enabled members to continue to feel part of a community. Gyms such as W3 Club have been posting their ‘class’ schedule on social and letting their followers know when they can tune into a workout, maintaining that connection between the instructor and the audience. Audiences stay connected with the brand, and it helps to satisfy consumers’ need for structure in their fitness routine.

Beauty brands must grasp the opportunity to reinvent themselves, stay relevant, and leverage digital marketing. Consumer behaviour has changed — and so have the rules. Investing in a digital strategy and creating compelling digital content is no longer optional.

Talk to Mediablaze, the digital marketing specialists.


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