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Beauty & Personal Care

The New Face of Beauty

1 Apr, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

Blogs, social communities, widgets, videos — online channels are creating places for customers to talk about beauty and personal care products and allowing direct response marketers to lead the conversation.


The beauty industry, worth an estimated $230 billion in annual global sales, is staring down an attractive future. And while the industry showed a 3.3-percent decline in U.S. sales from 2007 to 2008, according to the market research company NPD Group Inc. (especially in the areas of makeup and fragrance), there exists great promise in skincare (growth remained flat in the U.S.) with the help of anti-aging products.


 

 

Not to mention, beauty still fared better than other retail industries at the end of the fourth quarter because while many women are cutting back on trips to the salon and high-end personal care products, they are still finding more economical ways to buy products and keep up appearances.

Sales of anti-aging products were more than $1.6 billion in 2008, according to a report from market research firm Mintel, surpassing for the first-time sales of facial cleansers, which brought in around $570 million. Overall, sales of anti-aging products rose 13 percent from 2006. And like some other beauty products, they seem to be recession proof. While part of the success for the vertical is the vanity factor, other contributors come from innovative campaigns being launched by direct response marketers.

 Pureology Serious Color Care, a division of L Oral, is meeting the demands of digital direct response marketing. Recently, the brand launched an E-newsletter, the Pureology Desktop Widget, a Facebook page and Pureology Connect.
Pureology Serious Color Care, a division of L Oral, is meeting the demands of digital direct response marketing. Recently, the brand launched an E-newsletter, the Pureology Desktop Widget, a Facebook page and Pureology Connect.

 

In a time of mandatory ROI, direct response marketers have moved away from traditional print, television and radio ads and found great success online through blogs, online communities, widgets, ratings and reviews, videos and Web sites. What these industry marketers are proving is that viral communication, even online, is what sells beauty products — all it takes is creative, integrated campaigns and lots of free samples.

 

Let's Talk Beauty

 

Perhaps the best marketers for beauty and personal care products are the customers themselves. Word-of-mouth has been carrying brand names such as Estée Lauder since its inception in 1946. The New York-based beauty mogul now owns 29 brands, including names like Clinique, Prescriptives, Origins, MAC, Aveda and Bobbi Brown.

Yves Rochers botanical beauty line is using direct response marketing tactics such as E-marketing, free samples and catalogue mailers to recruit new customers and reward its already loyal consumers.
Yves Rochers botanical beauty line is using direct response marketing tactics such as E-marketing, free samples and catalogue mailers to recruit new customers and reward its already loyal consumers.

 

While most of the brands are multi-channel retailers, a majority of products are still sold in traditional department stores. But word-of-mouth for Estée Lauder has come a long way in more than 60 years, and online marketing is a large part of that modern viral communication. That is why Estée Lauder has vamped up its efforts to drive E-commerce and communication on many of its brands' Web sites.

"The goal is to drive our digital marketing as a company, particularly with a view of boosting E-commerce sales and with a larger view in enabling brands to engage in the digital space," says Marisa Thalberg, vice president of global online marketing for the company. Plus, by using digital marketing, the company hopes to create a more measurable way to drive sales.


 

 

In order to convert women into customers, and to retain them, a company must engage the customer. Sometimes that engagement includes in-store demonstrations and tips on how to put on makeup, or a long-form show on television, which shows the before-and-after results of a product. But, more and more, that interaction is happening where women are engaging with other women: online in social communities and blogs. Social media just makes sense, according to Thalberg, because it brings word-of-mouth online. Plus, it is a great way to target women already in this space, get them to the brand Web site, and then grow the E-mail database through opt-ins.

Online retailer Beauty Encounter drives consumers to its store of more than 30,000 products by offering beauty tips, trends and techniques on the company's Web site.
Online retailer Beauty Encounter drives consumers to its store of more than 30,000 products by offering beauty tips, trends and techniques on the company's Web site.

 

Estée Lauder, like many other beauty retailers, has several Facebook pages for its brands — MAC being its most accessed Facebook page, with 160,000 fans. But is all of this socializing impacting store sales levels? "When we send a notification through Facebook, we see a spike in people checking out the Web site," says Thalberg. "We're still scratching the surface, but we've created a good foundation."

Bringing the digital discussion directly to the brand page, many Estée Lauder Web sites allow customers to post user ratings and content. New products and updates on product lines are incredibly important in the industry, so Estée Lauder makes a point of communicating news to its consumer base through its social media links and E-mails.

Like other companies, the holidays are an important sales time for Estée Lauder. According to Nielsen, during the 2008 holiday season, eight of every 10 people consulted a rating or review before making a decision on what to buy. So Estée Lauder sees this as a great opportunity to create discussion among its customers. "We're really creating a better consumer experience — consumer perceptions as well as conversion," Thalberg says. "It's a combination of performance-driven tactics, but also more innovative and engaging online content."

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