Premium Beauty News - Many of Grupo Boticário’s stores have reopened. What was it like going through months of stores being closed?
André Farber - It is still a challenge. In the last few months, we became closer with our partners to help them ease the impact of this crisis. We made our relationship with sales representatives more flexible, eliminated the percentage they paid for marketing contribution and suspended fees. It did not take long until we found new possibilities for catering to our customers, such as with omnichat. The WhatsApp customer service system combines the practicality of a digital platform with a home delivery service, with deliveries made by the store nearest to where the order was placed.
Premium Beauty News - The group already has a well-established e-commerce platform . Was the online service important during the pandemic?
André Farber - The e-commerce platform is increasingly more relevant for business, but during a time in which shopping was done almost exclusively online, we had to increase our presence on digital channels. We registered an increase in online sales, and 34% of purchases were made by new users. Our app was also used more frequently and 25% of online sales are now done through the app.
Premium Beauty News - Unlike during other crises, in this one we did not see the "lipstick effect". Is that due to social distancing?
André Farber - The radical decrease in socialization was the main reason why we did not see the "lipstick effect" in this crisis. At the beginning of the pandemic, people focused on essential items. However, this has begun to change. With beauty salons closed, people began to "do it themselves" - buying products to use at home. People began to look for cosmetics and perfumery products which are not too expensive but are valuable in terms of promoting well-being.
With all of our efforts, we are already back to the level of demand we had before the crisis.
Premium Beauty News - How has the reopening period been, especially while the epidemic in Brazil is still growing?
André Farber - From the beginning, we established safety measures across the entire chain and followed the recommendations of local governments in places where we have stores. It was like this when we closed and it is like this while we are reopening. Considering the size of the country, it is only natural that there are a range of different situations. The number of people infected, adherence to social isolation and customer demand are some of the things we are considering in our decision of when to reopen. Even if governments have authorized it, if we don’t feel safe, we will not reopen. Consumer behavior will be different and it is very important that they feel comfortable.
Premium Beauty News - Among some of the safety measures you have adopted, one is the virtual makeup test. What other solutions have been planned?
André Farber - Suspending in-store tests forced us to look for safe alternatives. For makeup, the recommendation is the virtual mirror. In a simple, fun and accurate way, consumers can try many different lipsticks, with no need to put them on. We continue to think of other technological solutions to transform the shopping experience into something special, even if there is less human contact.
Premium Beauty News - O Boticário grew 9% in 2019. With COVID-19, what are the expectations for 2020?
André Farber - This unprecedented crisis completely changed the way we think about our business. Any expectations we had for 2020 had to be reassessed. We are working hard on safety and increasing consumer options in order to maintain a level of growth this year. It is hard, but we will do whatever it takes to make it happen.