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Beauty & Personal Care

Beauty Goes Screen Deep

1 Apr, 2011 By: Jackie Jones Response

DR helps digitally keen beauty marketers establish long-standing brand awareness in a tangible, relationship-based industry.

It may come as a surprise that digital has a place in an industry where hands-on interaction with a product — i.e., a dob of concealer on the wrist or an in-store whiff of shampoo — can make or break a sale. But the most successful beauty and personal care brands are giving their marketing strategies a digital makeover to rave results.

Advertisers incorporating direct response principles to better reach customers have impeccable timing. As the market begins to recover from a down economy, consumers are again embracing the little luxuries they once splurged on, such as haircuts and high-end cosmetics, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Even when consumers don’t have a great amount of expendable money for bigger purchases, they usually have enough to afford to make minor changes or additions to their makeup and beauty regimen to keep up with current trends and styles,” says Edward Schack, principal of EES Cosmetics Solutions Inc. “The beauty market typically does well when people can change things up with just a little bit of money and still feel good about it.”

DR Picks Up the Pace

The beauty market seems to do even better when targeting consumers at a variety of touch points and multitude of platforms, something that big names such as Sephora Inc. and JAFRA Cosmetics Intl. have been industry leaders in doing.

“The marketing strategies have changed so much and so rapidly within the past five or 10 years. Because of that, what we’ve found at JAFRA is that the most effective move as a brand is to incorporate a strategy that integrates, leverages and utilizes each medium for different purposes,” says Connie Tang, president of JAFRA USA.

JAFRA, a skincare and cosmetics direct sales company founded in 1956, operates in 17 different countries and has more than 550,000 “consultants” who sell directly to consumers. Though the brand continues to use print collateral as its “for-sure way to reach every home,” according to Tang, JAFRA is currently in the midst of a multiyear, multiphase launch of new and improved digital platforms.

“Snail mail is still very much a part of our monthly marketing materials that we use to introduce products, share incentives and promote training programs. However, we have increased our Internet presence and digital communication methods significantly within the last two years,” Tang says. “New technology has changed the face of beauty DR and has encouraged us to embrace the digital world.”

The Westlake Village, Calif.-based marketer launched a revamped corporate site and U.S. landing page in February and August of 2010, respectively. The third phase of JAFRA’s digital relaunch encourages and puts control of engagement directly into the hands of the consultants themselves.

“We’re at the doorstep of our business platform for our consultants, providing them with real-time access to place orders, review sales statistics, utilize business-management tools, track their earnings and learn what it would take to earn more,” Tang says.

The world of DR and marketing is more fast-paced than ever, which is a driving factor in digital’s importance to the beauty industry, according to Tang.

“What’s looking best for our consumers is weaving all platforms together to target and engage all demographics,” she says. “Our consumers and consultants are multigenerational, multiethnic and fall into multiple demographics. I have customers who have been buying JAFRA for 54 years, and I have young 20-something-year-olds who are new to the brand. So it’s essential for us to utilize all available marketing platforms to make sure we’re not missing anyone or creating any gaps in communication.”

DR plays an especially significant role in the beauty and personal care industry because the business itself is so relationship-based, Tang says. Not only does direct response contribute to an uptick in sales for JAFRA, but it also contributes to the brand’s mutually beneficial correspondence with its customers.

“The essence of beauty direct sales and its business model guides us to build personal relationships with our consultants and consumers,” she says. “We train and teach them to maximize their time and sales through interactive sessions and pamper parties. The direct impact is very personal and human.”

The immediate interaction between brand and consumer provided by DR is crucial to the company’s continued success with product launches including the recent release of JAFRA’s new sleek and contemporary color line, “The Next Generation of Beauty.” Focus groups and consultant feedback have proven beneficial for JAFRA executives looking for direct and measurable input early on in the product-development stages, something that many traditional marketing environments don’t provide.

“At any time I can call my consultants and consumers who live around me — who welcome the interaction — and invite them to a focus group,” Tang says. “I can get direct, immediate response to meet their needs, test new products and throw company ideas by them. We get this insight in the earliest stages and we can incorporate that information into our development process to improve our products and marketing strategy to better serve our consumers.”

The Gift of Gab

Sephora, a brick-and-mortar and online retailer of beauty products, has long made a name for itself as one of the most actively engaging brands in the industry by emphasizing its customer-loyalty program and giving in-store customers hands-on access to all of its products (Response, April 2009). Sephora was one of the first beauty marketers to embrace online initiatives and eagerly continues to take advantage of new technologies.

“We have capitalized on a number of new technologies in order to bring that expertise and the entire Sephora experience to our clients, wherever they are, whenever they want,” says Julie Bornstein, senior vice president of Sephora Direct. “Our marketing is designed to reflect how our clients want to hear from us and to make the Sephora experience continually more engaging, personalized and convenient.”

Print efforts such as the brand’s seasonal catalogs still have a very important place within Sephora’s marketing advertising strategy, but digital DR is quickly gaining ground as an effective way to reach on-the-go consumers, according to Bornstein, who oversees, the company’s social media and mobile advertising, and its “Beauty Insider” loyalty program. Sephora aims to give clients easy access to beauty information by utilizing and intertwining all available marketing outlets, including targeted E-mails, Facebook and Twitter pages, an iPhone app and a mobile website.

“SephoraMobile is the ultimate bridge between physical and virtual Sephora experiences,” Bornstein says. “Clients are able to access the breadth of product information available on our site, such as reviews, Facebook ‘Likes’ and product ingredients and usage, while standing in-store. Plus it allows the client to immediately see what is new, what we’re buzzing about and beauty videos.”

Bornstein credits the success of Sephora’s digital initiatives to its ability to act early and anticipate what clients want, citing the “Ratings & Review” feature on as a perfect example.

“Two years ago, even before the technology was available to allow us to launch a fully functional mobile site last summer, we made our Ratings & Review smartphone-accessible through our first-generation mobile site,” she says. “Our clients got used to using their smartphones as a shopping tool, and that is why they transitioned so easily to shopping with us through our mobile site as soon as it was available.”

Advancing technology in the world of DR has allowed Sephora to reach unprecedented heights in consumer engagement, and has provided tangible customer feedback for future marketing and product development.

“Our clients love to talk about beauty. They’ve submitted more than 1 million product reviews on and our 1.2 million Sephora Facebook fans engage with us and each other every day,” Bornstein says. “We want to allow women to bring that information with them as they shop in-store or have some multitasking time when they are out and about.”

Firm Foundation in DR

Like any well-rounded marketing strategist, both JAFRA and Sephora know digital is not the end-all, be-all of success, and recognize the importance of traditional advertising, as well. For beauty-wipe manufacturer La Fresh Group Inc., that success came in the form of DRTV with its first-ever television advertising campaign.

The La Fresh Eco-Beauty launch includes 60- and 120-second DRTV spots with a call-to-action driving consumers to toll-free numbers as well as a DR microsite,

“DR is a key focus for the La Fresh Eco-Beauty launch strategy, not only for generating immediate awareness and trial but also for establishing a credible, highly desirable brand equity that can carry business through just about any sales channel,” says Jennifer Norman, vice president of marketing at La Fresh Group. “Our goal is to be a strong brand not only today but far into the future, so establishing one-to-one communication with consumers is truly an invaluable way to learn what messages compel them to buy, what nuances spark interest and what to avoid.”

Beauty and personal care marketers looking to tap into the power of digital should focus on cutting-edge marketing tools, from innovative DRTV spots to ever-evolving platforms such as video blogs and social media, according to Schack.

“Technology is affecting the way we do business, in both the business-to-business and business-to-consumer models,” he says. “What we’re seeing with the new generation of consumers is that they are very social media-savvy, and what marketers want to do is to reach their customers where they are and speak their own language.”

The face of digital marketing continues to undergo its own high-tech makeover, and beauty brands hungry for the benefits of immediate and trackable consumer interaction afforded by DR will be the ones to succeed.

“Clearly, our industry is moving in the direction of the digital age,” Tang says, “and we’ll continue to as that’s where more and more of our customers want to be reached.”

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