For a new company, trying to break into the beauty and cosmetic industry is not always pretty.
For one thing, the space is crowded—new brands are being created every day. For another, customers aren’t always eager to give up long-time brand loyalties and try something new.
What this means is that beauty brands that want to reach today’s consumer—the connected consumer—must have a deep understanding of what these consumers value, and how those values translate into not only the products, but the story that these beauty brands are telling.
Here are 4 practices every beauty brand must adopt in order to reach the connected consumer.
When it comes to social media, up your transparency factor.
For beauty brands, image-based social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are—unsurprisingly—hugely important.
Your customers want to see your products in action, so images and video of those products and their application are key to building your online following. However, remember that the connected consumer also craves something else: authenticity and transparency.
This is part of why today’s consumers, especially Millennials, trust regular people over celebrities or models. With that in mind, brand managers in the beauty space should take a good look at their company’s social media profiles to see what kind of images they’re projecting.
Are diverse types of people represented in those images? Are they out in the world, going about their lives, or cooped up in a studio, looking utterly perfect? Are there typical, everyday users that your customers can see themselves in?
Every brand will have somewhat different needs in this area, of course, and it’s no secret that the beauty industry has always been—and continues to be—an aspirational one. Balancing that aspirational aspect with the authenticity that the connected consumer demands will look different from brand to brand, but the balancing act itself is a constant.
Invest heavily in influencer relationships.
In the beauty industry, influencers are a key component of effectively reaching the connected consumer.
Even though some achieve “Insta-fame,” boasting millions of followers and a seemingly glamorous lifestyle, most influencers still qualify as the “regular people” that connected consumers would almost always rather listen to.
Take the beauty startup Glossier, an online-only cosmetics company that surpassed $100 million in revenue in 2018. The company not only partners with influencers—it was started by an influencer and beauty blogger, Emily Weiss, who focused on conversations with real women about their real beauty routines.
Bridge the online and offline shopping experiences.
Even though the popular image of the connected consumer is one of a Millennial scrolling endlessly on their phone, connected consumers do still desire a hands-on shopping experience.
It’s a hallmark of the connected consumer’s purchase journey, which today is much more complex than the simple A to C path that generally existed before the internet.
As we discovered through our research into the connected consumer, connected consumers often begin their purchase journey online by researching a product, often creating documents or systems for keeping track of and organizing their options. If the opportunity is available, they’ll often visit a store to try a product out, or to pick up a product they purchased online.
Beauty brands can take advantage of this need by implementingexperiential marketing tactics, like pop-up events that allow consumers to try out their products or get free one-on-one styling advice.
This is what we did for Chase for Business—we launched the Chase BizMobile, a high-tech mobile van that small business owners could visit for one-on-one social media consultations with Zen Media’s marketing experts. This idea could easily be translated for the beauty industry.
Streamline the try-out and purchase experience.
Perhaps one of the most interesting paradoxes of the connected consumer is that they wield unprecedented amounts of power when it comes to their purchasing choices—and yet, that same power is also paralyzing.
We heard from consumers during our research that they often felt worry that they were not making the right choice when it came to the brands they ended up purchasing from. Some took it even farther, worrying that they were not making the best possible choice.
To help ease this anxiety, beauty brands can streamline their purchasing experiences by offering “try-before-you-buy” options, free shipping, and free returns.
Companies like the eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker have perfected the try-before-you-buy model, shipping frames to customers so they can try a variety before choosing. They support this part of the consumer experience by encouraging consumers to Instagram selfies in their Warby Parker glasses using a branded hashtag.
While glasses are not the same as, say, lipstick or hair conditioner, the concept holds true. Beauty companies that make samples available or that allow users to upload pictures of themselves to virtually “try on” different shades of makeup, will get much farther with the connected consumer than those that remain wedded to the old retail models.
Reaching the connected consumer in the beauty industry means embracing transparency, influencer relationships, the consumers’ desire for hands-on product experience, and the need for power and convenience. For more on reaching the connected consumer—in every industry—download our report Marketing to Gods: The Definitive Guide to Reaching, Engaging, and Retaining the Modern, Empowered Consumer.