Beauty continues to boom, thanks in large part to social media (with an emphasis on Instagram and YouTube) and digitally-native brands (DNVB). What’s more, the beauty industry has faced far fewer negative impacts from the e-commerce landscape, compared to their peers, traditional apparel and accessory retailers- many of which closed significant numbers of doors or closed up shop entirely over the last few years. As such, the beauty industry provides several insights on how to achieve and maintain brick-and-mortar success in the age of e-commerce. From makeup artists as influencers to new skincare and cosmetics DNVB swiftly catapulting to success, fashion stands to benefit following beauty’s lead.
Offer Exclusive Products and Launch Surprise Deliveries
Limited-edition designs and last-minute (surprise or scheduled) product drops are adopted by an ever-increasing proportion of the fashion industry, an area in which the beauty industry and social media excel. For examples of winning strategies, examine executions by Huda Beauty by mega-influencer, Huda Kattan, and the skincare company, Drunk Elephant. These brands benefit from media coverage, increased brand awareness, increased digital impressions and more.
If you haven’t incorporated these merchandising and marketing strategies into your business, now is the time to start. Research extensively, even consider crowdsourcing from your consumers à la Glossier, to determine what the most buzzworthy, value-added limited-edition products could be. Next, speak to your best wholesale partners to discuss ideas for marketing, social media, and sales (i.e. the number of SKUs, how long the collection will be offered, etc.). Finally, a one-off can be exciting, however, it’s much more effective to produce an in-house product drop calendar to keep consumers engaged throughout the year.
Expand Cautiously and Limit Distribution
The most successful DNVB in beauty take their time in selecting the right wholesale partners. Kylie Cosmetics and Jeffree Star Cosmetics are two excellent examples. Both brands were founded by two major media powerhouses and beauty influencers: Kylie Jenner and Jeffree Star, respectively. Both DNVB sold exclusively online before carefully entering the wholesale arena via a few key retailers for exclusive distribution; for instance, both brands developed major partnerships with Ulta Beauty.
How many wholesale doors do you have? Are all of your partners performing up-to-speed? Where is there room for improvement? Do you have any product lines that could be offered exclusively to specific retailers?
Stay Abreast of What Consumers Want- and Give It to Them
The best beauty businesses know what consumers want- from digital upstarts to international multi-brand retailers such as Sephora. While much of the apparel industry was slow to adopt the new consumer shopping trends and lifestyle preferences associated with the digital age, savvy beauty startups adapted with immediacy. Don’t fight the current of change- you cannot win; instead, leverage tools such as social media to keep up with what’s new and what’s now before pivoting or executing with speed.
Shopping Habits and Inspiration
The beauty industry was quick to notice the changing tide of consumer behavior. Beauty tutorials, currently waning in favor, were once responsible for the explosion of beauty social media. Beauty stars were created, thrusting Instagram and YouTube stars into the spotlight. Retailers and brands quickly took notice, brokering sponsored content, endorsements, brand ambassadorships, product collaborations and more with great success.
Evolving Tastes and Trends
Beauty insiders as diverse as ColourPop and Anastasia Beverly Hills, also took note of trends spawned by the dynamics and aesthetics of Instagram- largely bright and bold looks such as the unicorn makeup trend, perfect for crafting eye-catching content in the feed.
Diversity and Inclusion
Beauty also responded to the call for greater inclusion and diversity with speed. Prominent beauty influencers span across genders and sexual identities, races, religions, ethnicities, skin colors, hair textures, and age groups. The industry listened when the public made their call for greater diversity clear – hiring more diverse influencers and models and even updating product formulas or introducing entirely new collections and SKUs to respond to more diverse beauty and skincare needs. Shrewd startups such as Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, launched offering more foundation and base shades than ever before- and the heritage beauty brands soon followed suit. Meanwhile, the fashion industry continues to struggle to meet consumers’ size-inclusive demands.
For brick-and-mortar success, take a page out of the beauty business playbook. Pay attention to consumers in stores and on social media. Find out their greatest desires, needs, and pain points, then strategize accordingly. The market is changing quickly, only the most nimble businesses will thrive.
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