How to Overcome the Beauty Omnichallenge: Interview with Helen Yeardsley, Healthy Beauty Director, Pegasus

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Omnichannel is probably the most exciting and challenging opportunity facing the premium beauty industry today.

In order to gain a deeper understanding of its importance, I met with Helen Yeardsley, Healthy Beauty Director at Pegasus, who we are also partnering in our forthcoming Omnichannel Report, which launches this Monday.

How does omnichannel influence your work as an agency?

As an integrated communications agency delivering campaigns in health and beauty, we are passionate advocates of omnichannel planning.

Putting the consumer at the heart of the campaign is the only way to fully understand your audience, their influences and where best to reach them.

I find it amazing how many brands still treat each channel (media, social, digital and retail) in isolation, missing the point that consumers are in themselves inadvertently and quite naturally omnichannel.Ultimately, presenting a compelling and consistent message across all consumer touch points is the key to success.

Do you think that the term “omnichannel” is widely understood amongst your clients?

That’s a good question. I’d say that while most of our clients have bought into the need for multi-channel strategies, it’s the brands who are considering the consumer journey in its entirety, and working to create a seamless brand experience, who are by far the most successful.

What advice would you give to brands setting out on their omnichannel journey?

It sounds simple, but the best advice I can give is to really get under the skin of your customer.

Spending time to fully understand who they are and how they behave is the only way of ensuring you give them what they want to see, rather than just what you want to tell them.

Ensure you have a clearly defined proposition - what you want to say about your brand or product - and then work through the customer journey to ensure you’re communicating this clearly, wherever your customers ‘meet’ you.

Can you give an example of a beauty brand that makes omnichannel work well for their business?

For me, someone who personifies the ethos of an omnichannel, customer-centric approach is make-up artist, Charlotte Tilbury.

She makes her customers the star of the show, offering a window on her A-list lifestyle, while making this accessible and relevant through her products.Her recent fragrance launch spanned all online and in-store touchpoints, with the launch film, featuring Kate Moss, projected on to buildings in London; her 3D art mural of the bottle in Covent Garden being well-documented on her Instagram Story, and the film was brought directly to customers through dedicated Virtual Reality stations instore.

What are the most common mistakes brands make, why do they make them and how can they be avoided?

Although an omnichannel strategy relies on some very new touchpoints and platforms, I actually think many of the pitfalls for brands are the same as they’ve always been.

At its simplest, if you don’t listen to your customers, you will lose them. Where some brands fail is in seeing new digital channels as broadcast platforms to push messages out into the world.

The smarter brands use these channels as a means of developing a relationship with their customers, engaging, adding value and rewarding loyalty.

What role do influencers play and why are they important?

Review and recommendation has had a profound effect on our industry, shifting the power from traditional influencers such as celebrities to ‘people like us’ with a seemingly independent point of view.

The big YouTube stars have huge reach and the ability to cause product sell-out in hours, but an emerging group of micro influencers – with smaller but dedicated fan bases – are becoming increasingly important because they are often seen as more relevant and accessible to their more niche followers.

And it’s not just about the bloggers and vloggers. Experts including journalists, buyers, dermatologists and make-up artists still hold huge sway, so the challenge for brands is how to engage the right influencers and harness their support to maximum effect.

Which social media platforms do you consider to be the most effective for beauty brands?

That’s such a tricky question, as it really depends on the brand!

All social media platforms can play an effective role in any omnichannel strategy, and the most effective platform for your brand hinges on a myriad of factors.

For instance, a high street brand which has a lower price point and young target market may be more interested in Snapchat, whose demographic fits the brand’s audience perfectly.

However, a more premium brand which is more expensive and falls into the ‘luxury’ category may be more interested in social platforms that index highly among an older audience who have more disposable income, like Facebook and Twitter.

But it’s not just audience you need to consider. If you’re a brand with limited budget for social, it might be that you stay away from platforms like Facebook, which are increasingly squeezing organic reach for brands so they have to pay to be seen.

Doing the research into which social media platforms are right for your brand at the start of the campaign process will ensure you don’t spread yourself too thinly over lots of channels that may be less effective for spreading your message.

Looking to the future, what digital developments do you see as potentially interesting to beauty brands?

Personalisation across all touchpoints will continue to shape developments in our industry.

On the product development side, we’re already seeing increasing diversity in shade ranges for popular products. NARS’s recently brought out six new shades to accompany their 10 strong Radiant Creamy Concealer range and L’Oreal’s recent TV adverts for its True Match foundation focuses not on product benefit but on the breadth of available shades.But an increasingly personalised approach isn’t just limited to product selection, it’s everywhere - from email marketing to user experience at online checkouts. It’s the driving force behind augmented reality apps and installations that enable people to ‘try before they buy’.

The move away from large-format retailing towards smaller stores and kiosk retail models is another interesting trend being driven by technology.

Sephora’s Flash store 1000sq ft model is a great case in point, with shoppers using digital cards to swipe products which act as virtual shopping baskets, then collecting products at the till – where an extensive digital catalogue augments the actual stock holding.

Clever stuff, and given the rate of change I can’t wait to see what’s next for the beauty sector!

The IMA Omnichannel Report 2016, written in partnership with Pegasus launches this Monday. You can find out what's in the report here.

About PegasusPegasus is an award-winning integrated communications agency specialising in communicating healthy messages.That means inspiring healthy decisions in beauty – from the best skincare choices to the most effective anti-ageing supplements. Our unique ‘healthy beauty’ offering means we’re experts at bringing the benefits of naturally active, scientific, pharmacy, nutri-cosmetic, professional, condition-specific and everyday essential beauty brands to life.

And because we understand that beauty consumers are more connected and educated than ever before, our campaigns work across all channels, blending healthcare professional, beauty influencer and celebrity endorsement with engaging creative, social and digital content to bring the all-important product and brand truths to life for consumers.

hyeardsley@thisispegasus.co.uk/ @peg_beauty (Instagram & Twitter) / @hyeards / www.thisispegasus.co.uk