News 4 minutes, 27 second read Elliott Jacobs, EMEA Commerce Consulting Director, LiveArea
When it comes to making that special, intimate connection with consumers, social media and influencers perform a unique role. And when it comes to the sector that does it best, look no further than beauty.
The internet has changed the beauty industry for good. Many start-ups have found success online first, whilst department stores and major global brands have diversified their online presence to reflect the behaviours of Gen Z and Millennials.
But beauty brands use social media and influencers to connect with consumers. This content can be aligned with other channels to drive transactions and deliver a seamless customer experience.
Thanks to social media and influencers, beauty brands can connect more intimately with consumers. But it’s important they take the next step, connecting inspirational, educational, and entertaining content with seamless transactional experiences. If they do, social media and digital purchasing experiences can be aligned with other channels to deliver a comprehensive customer journey, and promote brand loyalty.
Here is an interesting fact: Beauty is second only to gaming as the most viewed topic on YouTube. Almost half of beauty shoppers admit social media has played a part in a purchase, and 20% of make-up buyers seek products to create looks they’ve seen on video tutorials, while 16% buy from brands that have collaborated with their favourite celebrities and bloggers.
There was a time when a beauty brand’s image was a supermodel wrapped up in a multi-million-dollar TV advertising campaign. Whilst fragrance companies are still hot on this trail, cosmetics, beauty, and personal care are swapping supermodels for influencers.
Social media and influencer content have replaced newspaper supplements and glossy magazines as the starting points for new product discovery in beauty. Think Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, and vlogs. This trend has resulted in a surge in interactive, consumer-generated content. Brands are sharing and acting upon consumer noise, and employing influencers to spread the word.
The likes of Hudda Kattan, Zoe Sugg, Nickie De Jager, and Naomi Giannopoulos topped the beauty influencer Instagram rich list of 2018. The list goes on and includes male beauty influencers, which is expected to be a large area of future growth, and even stretches to virtual influencers.
The power of influencers is reflected by Charlotte Tilbury, a British make-up artist, who has more than ten times the following of L’Oréal Paris UK and Ireland on YouTube.
Brands cannot afford to ignore the influencer impact. According to eMarketer, 89% of brand managers say that this tactic affects how people feel about brands.
For many start-ups, engaging influencers is a cost-effective way to get their brand in front of wider audiences. The average return on investment for influencer marketing campaigns is over six times the initial investment.
In fact, we are all influencers. No one buys a product that has a rating under three stars out of five online. Genuine reviews and ratings are a huge part of the beauty scene. They are also a big challenge for brands since independent influencer reviews are hard to control.
At the same time, social media provides new avenues for purchasing products and delivering customer service. Brands are utilising Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger to instantly connect with consumers, sell products, and offer 24/7 chatbot-driven customer service.
While social commerce will continue to grow, brands must understand that these channels are so much more than selling platforms. Those brands that use social media effectively are doing so in a way that allows for interaction and co-creation in the beauty, health, and wellness space. Building a forum among followers allows for much greater buy-in for brands.
And integrating user-generated content throughout eCommerce sites and social media channels can build brand loyalty and an emotive connection between brands and consumers.
Include star-reviews on product pages, and testimonials on blogs or email campaigns. Use photos of ‘real’ people instead of models on-site and throughout social media. Share unboxing clips and video demonstrations on Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
Empowering customers as micro-influencers can have an enormous effect on how the brand is perceived amongst peers, and this can snowball.
Curate the experience
Influencers and social media content are often only a starting point, used to spread the word, or offer more information on a product or brand. To fully maximise the potential that these bring, brands need to re-assess, curate, and align their physical and key digital touchpoints.
The connection between blogs, vlogs, YouTube channels, product pages, Instagram posts, and in-store offers is crucial for beauty. Customers want to discover products on blogs, watch a demo on YouTube and be able to then find it at a beauty counter in-store with advice from a beauty advisor. Then they want to be able to re-purchase the product online, whilst being offered other related products or recommendations to complete the look.
Savvy brands are integrating and aligning social and customer journeys, so buyers have the complete picture. This involves coordinating loyalty cards and sign-ups for special offers in-store, via social, or on-site. The online customer experience is also key, helping consumers easily find the products to build the look.
It’s no good having an influencer tutorial video trending online if consumers can’t easily find the product, check it suits their skin tone, complete the look with other products, and buy easily on their mobile device. Website merchandising strategies should be aligned with other channels to make this journey as seamless as possible.