This article was written by Hannah Spicer, a freelance E-commerce and Digital Marketing Consultant, with over 16 years experience working at luxury and fashion retailers including Harvey Nichols, Stella McCartney and Kurt Geiger. She works with small to medium brands to optimise their e-commerce performance.
I’m working with two clients in the beauty industry at the moment, and while they are facing challenges due to COVID-19 like many other businesses, they are adapting and finding new ways of reaching, helping and serving customers.
I myself have stopped shopping for anything except food essentials and some resources to keep my kids busy. However, the other two purchases I’ve made have been beauty products, and I’m interested in why this is.
At the start of the first full week of isolation, I did my first body scrub since last summer. I’m also taking pleasure and comfort in slathering on my favourite body oil more evenings than I normally do.
I am naturally leaning towards putting my focus back on myself and my body.
Perhaps because this is all I can control.
Perhaps because I value my health now more than ever.
Perhaps because I want a way to feel nice despite enjoying wearing leggings everyday and not really wearing makeup.
Perhaps because I want to maximise the benefits of the reduced pollution in the air at the moment.
Perhaps because it’s spring.
I posed the question to Zahra Broadfield, who after 10 years as a beauty buyer at a luxury department store, founded SUST Beauty, on a mission to champion the most ethical and innovative beauty brands in an honest and transparent way.
Zahra explains “Our world is radically altered, so it's natural and necessary to look inward for connection to ourselves and outward for connection with each other. Beauty facilitates both, giving a moment of reflection and calm whilst also providing a familiar and shareable moment.”
Another client, The Light Salon, provides LED facial treatments in salons at the likes of Harvey Nichols and Cowshed in the UK, and Nordstrom in the US. They also offer professional standard LED devices and products that customers can use in the home, which is where they have put their full focus now that salons are closed.
Like many brands at this time, they are building on digital capabilities such as Direct To Consumer sales, email marketing and social media.
The Light Salon is also finding that customers are using their masks in different ways since social isolation kicked in and are relying on them for mental health boosts and also to help support their immunity, at a time when health is key. “Feedback from customers using our Boost Mask at-home, tell us that the bright lights offer a form of meditative calm,” says Laura Ferguson, co-founder of The Light Salon. “For me, applying LED light to my face or body is an instant stress-buster. It slows down my breathing, and in turn, I can feel my shoulders and every part of my body relax”.
Referral Marketing Provider, Mention Me, is seeing this trend in their client’s figures. They report on average, sales for beauty skincare brands have increased by 37% year-on-year. Referrals have increased by 64%, stating ‘Our appearance may not be our biggest concern right now, but for some consumers, the sudden abundance of free time coupled with niggling anxiety presents the perfect time to practice self-care.’*
So what are the ways that beauty brands can optimise their potential during this challenging time?
Focus on your own e-commerce store - Customers want to continue to purchase their regular items and even indulge in new ones. Offer free shipping, extended returns, as many payment options as possible (Paypal, Klarna etc). Think about how you can surprise and delight customers by adding something in the orders themselves. On your site and marketing channels, reassure customers that you are still fulfilling orders, but also let them know how you are keeping your staff safe and if delivery will take longer than normal.
Share content with your community - open up the doors to your business and share more videos and live access via Instagram. Tell your brand story, share your own beauty regime and advice. The key here is: Focus on people over products.
Adapt your service - offer online chat, remote consultations, or a whatsapp group (By Sarah London have done this)
Give back - Think about how you can support NHS and other keyworkers. The Light Salon is making a donation to the NHS on the purchase of selected products. By Sarah London are offering NHS workers a 50% discount on all its products, so they can enjoy self-care when they need it the most. Organic skincare brand Pai has rushed to create a hand sanitizer, which it says will be given away for free to its neighbouring schools, nurseries and charities.
“For the strong of health and heart, we will work together to bring support and comfort to the vulnerable,” founder Sarah Brown commented in an email to customers.
5. Help customers in other ways - find new ways to bring comfort, distraction and information to customers that complement your business. Such as fitness classes, sleep clinics, meditation classes, and of course, beauty workshops. This time is about building relationships with customers while the world takes a pause.
Look after yourselves and your families and friends as much as you can right now. And if you can, continue to shop with independent businesses who are still able to fulfil your orders safely.