Last year, we partnered integrated communications agency, Pegasus, for the publication of The Omnichannel Report for the premium beauty industry.
This timely report examined the seismic changes affecting all brands and retailers grappling to understand how to make their businesses relevant for today’s consumers.
One year on, digital technology has undoubtedly buoyed up sales of premium beauty, but the promise of frictionless omnichannel shopping has yet to become a reality for most.
L’Oreal’s new chief marketing officer for Western Europe contends that companies should no longer have a digital strategy and that there should be no difference in on/offline marketing. What is your view?
I’ve agreed with this for a long time! Consumers are channel agnostic; they don’t live in these on and offline siloes – neither should be brands targeting them in this way.
The best marketing campaigns demonstrate a truly customer-centric approach – understanding what’s going to resonate most with their audience and delivering tailored content across the right channels – simple, but effective.
It’s also a question of budget. Charlotte Tilbury’s Scent of a Dream fragrance launch remains a great example of integrated marketing at its finest – spanning all online and in-store touchpoints.
The launch film (featuring Kate Moss) was projected on to buildings in London; her 3D art mural of the bottle in Covent Garden was well documented on her Instagram Story and the film was brought directly to customers through dedicated Virtual Reality stations in-store using Samsung Gear and Google Cardboard.
There were also huge volumes of on and offline PR coverage driving sales.
But not all brands can afford a launch on this scale. The mistake many make is in spreading their marketing budgets too thinly.
The best approach for brands on a smaller budget is to figure out the most effective channels to reach your audience. Then make one or two of them work as hard as possible for you.
What do you advise your beauty clients when it comes to marketing/PR online?
The best piece of advice we can offer is that brands consider the cross-channel value of all the assets they create.
PR content might work well as a video, or visuals from an ad campaign used as social posts or retargeting ads – you should always be thinking about ways to enhance the value of any content, because usually it’s the biggest investment.
It’s also important to admit that paid media works very, very well in the online world – all of the big platforms are essentially set up to optimise for ads these days.
The power of such exact targeting is just too great to ignore. The days of building communities as an ‘owned’ channel without paid support are probably over, given that such a small percentage of fans will now see content organically.
However, one valuable ‘community’ that’s still worth building is your email list – many clients see open rates of 25% or higher, putting tailored key messages in front of segmented customers, fans and advocates.
It remains one of the best and most cost effective marketing opportunities for many brands.
What do you think retailers can do to build online presence while maintaining a strong retail business?
Consumers still have a strong desire to ‘touch and try before you buy’ – especially with newer beauty brands and products which is why the majority of online beauty transactions are repurchases of that initial in-store buy.
An exception to this rule seems to be the recent launch of US skincare brand Glossier, which was fuelled mainly by online influencer buzz.
However, retailers should be considering how digital can optimise the in-store experience – not only in creating theatre, but also in building more personal, lasting and arguably more ‘human’ customer relationships.
Technology, and in particular mobile apps, are bringing interaction and engagement in-store to encourage trial (Sephora does this really well across multiple brands with its VR app).
Most importantly, these technologies can play a key role in maintaining a connection with your customers.
In the case of apps, it’s quite literally about keeping the brand in customers’ pockets after they leave the store.
The most successful retailers will create a positive, personal and seamless customer experience wherever their customers ‘meet’ them – leveraging the many ways in which on and offline channels can help to build customer relationships and brand loyalty – and ultimately drive sales.
Look out for our forthcoming Premium Market Report: How to Make it Big in Make-Up. Further details coming soon.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
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