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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.

Like other beauty and personal care stores, knowing and targeting the customer with samples and demonstrations can be an integral part of the marketing mix. For example, the two-year-old Beauty Insider program from Sephora sends sample products from its more than 200 brands to loyal customers (see "Beauty's on the Inside at Sephora"). "Certainly, the biggest opportunity we have is for the customer to try a new product," says Yves Rocher's Moffatt. "So much of our planning goes into trying to get the customer to discover a new product in some way, either through purchase or free sampling."

Direct mail makes up 80 percent of Yves Rocher's direct marketing budget, with the balance going to Internet media. Also, in the process of recruiting new customers, the company is using inserts in sources that proved successful in the past. "E-marketing remains a significant portion of our sales," says Moffatt. "The advantage that it brings us is the opportunity to cost effectively touch a new pool of potential customers."

Moffatt also pointed toward the significance of making sure that every piece of copy is targeted. "That's probably the biggest mistake most new mailers make — forgetting that the customer is who is important, not the product being offered," he says. "We've had great success in the past two years in returning Yves Rocher in North America to being a great mailer. This was done by investing in a good catalogue and strong direct marketing pieces, as well as through techniques to involve the customer in the communication."

For example, Yves Rocher successfully launched its new Iris Noir perfume in 2008. To support the launch, the company mailed a separate flyer explaining the perfume and included a scent strip. "This is important when dealing with catalogue customers, as a perfume is hard to sell when the customer can't discover the fragrance themselves," says Moffatt.

The retailer's best fragrance customers were given the chance to preview the perfume a few months prior to the launch at an exclusive price. And during the actual launch, customers were rewarded for a fragrance purchase with a pearl bracelet.

While E-commerce contributes to a large number of overall sales for many beauty and personal care companies, for some, like Beauty Encounter, all sales are done online. CEO and founder Jacquelyn Tran took her family's wholesale beauty retail company and, in 1999, transferred the fragrance distributor online. Seeing the potential of the Internet as a sales tool, she created a retail Web site and started adding other product categories including cosmetics, haircare and skincare. Today, Beauty Encounter hosts more than 1,000 unique brands with an array of international and specialty products.

As an online retailer, the company faces a physical challenge. "The largest challenge we face is bringing the beauty counter experience of being able to smell, touch and test to the online world," says Reilly. "We work hard to provide detailed descriptions and photos to help customers determine if a particular scent or color is right for them."

But according to Reilly, the advantages of being an online retailer outweigh the disadvantages. "The largest advantage is the convenience of shopping whenever you want — we don't close," she comments. "Additionally, we are able to attract customers from all over the world and offer more than 30,000 products."

More than half of the marketing budget goes straight to direct initiatives, the Web being the most used channel followed by E-mail. Therefore, the marketing team offers unique spots on the Web site for beauty tips, trends and techniques. In addition, the company's blog allows customers to comment on products and make recommendations to one another.

Beyond the blog and reviews, Beauty Encounter has Facebook and Twitter pages, and recently launched a YouTube channel. During the next year, the company will evolve its social media platforms while also exploring mobile marketing. "We want to bring the same great shopping experience customers find on the Web to mobile phones," says Reilly.


Glamorous on Any Budget


Beauty sells, even in a recession. Women may cut back on apparel, but they will not compromise beauty regimens. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, despite falling retail sales figures, beauty and personal care products saw holiday sales rise 5.7 percent to $20.9 billion in 2008, when compared with December 2007 data. Retail giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) showed net sales growth for the seventh consecutive year, with a large part of that attributable to beauty — 33 percent of 2008 net sales, totaling $27.8 billion.

Moffatt believes the economy could help, not hurt Yves Rocher. "We will benefit from the difficulties in the marketplace. Women still want to look and feel beautiful and with our global production capabilities, this helps us keep prices at a very competitive level," says Moffatt.

However, despite the success of beauty products in a down economy, customers will are still looking for more ways to save money, such as buying drugstore or budget-friendly brands. "Everyone wants to look and feel like a movie star for less," says Beauty Encounter's Reilly. "People are tightening their wallets, but still want to smell and look good."

The company is making sure to adjust its marketing campaigns to focus on being direct and measurable. "We want to put every dollar we spend to work for us, be able to track and measure the results to determine the value, and learn what changes we can make to maximize our budget," she adds.


Fully Integrated and Entertaining


It is the tech-savvy generation that is now coming to the age of purchasing power. Teenage girls are in the market for makeup and fragrances and talking to their friends about it. To reach this demographic, marketers not only have to launch campaigns on multiple digital platforms, they also have to entertain and engage the customer.

With this demographic in mind, New York-based Syrup, a global communications agency, created a Web site tied to Coty Fragrance's Harajuku Lovers, inspired by music star Gwen Stefani's clothing and fragrance line. The idea was to create an entire interactive experience for young women, including an on- and offline karaoke experience with Stefani's hit song "Harajuku Girl."

"We think of campaigns as integrated," says Rob Holzer, CEO of Syrup. "Ultimately, it's like you're cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner and all of these things are just tools to make the complete the larger feast."

Since its launch in September 2008, has had more than 3 million page views, 500,000 visits (from 189 countries) and more than 6,900 registered users — 80 percent of whom have opted in to receive more information. On the fragrance's Web site, consumers can create and post their own Karaoke video, and offline, karaoke photo booths are touring department stores where customers can participate.

Other aspects of the campaign include the ability to create an AOL WeeMee, a kind of a virtual paper doll download. Its Facebook page has more than 1,500 fans, and the option to send virtual gifts through the medium has caused a huge spike in activity on the page. But Syrup is careful not to over-use Facebook. "Facebook is a very personal space, so we don't want to invade it if you don't offer some value," says Syrup CEO Rob Holzer.

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