Photo credit: © Wavebreakmedia

Beauty as a central issue

As a social matter par excellence, beauty is the 3rd sector to stir social networks.

Director of Strategic Planning Olivier Bailloux and his team at Publicis tracked conversations on beauty last March and found more than a million interactions on the topic, with the strong representation of the interaction with image as a dominant trend. “Today, women customers express themselves and seek information from each other: 91% of the discussions related to cosmetics and beauty products occur on social networks, and when they start their research, 41% of women buyers only search for terms unrelated to brands.” Then, they distance themselves from the images imposed by brands, or “hack” them, or even get hypercritical of them in their conversations, as could be seen with the latest Yves Saint Laurent campaign in the United Kingdom, whose model was considered too skinny.

The key for brands in their communication strategy is now to make customers their allies. The customer value is actually beyond the value related to the purchasing act: what prevails is the influence and commitment of customers.

The rise of beautystas

Beauty is trendy, and while fashion has its fashionistas, beauty has its beauty lovers, who the NellyRodi agency has named the beautystas. As an example, new icons are making themselves seen through their beauty looks.

New icons (e.g.: Nicole Richie) work on their hair colours and the singularity of their makeup. They do put themselves in the spotlight using their figures, but also an aesthetic environment that can give beauty a new colouring. There is a shift in the fashion detail: it used to be focused on the figure, but from now on, the ‘cool’ areas are makeup, jewellery, and manicure,” explains Nathalie Rozborski, Fashion & Beauty Consulting Manager at NellyRodi. This vision of beauty is becoming more democratic and invading most of the beauty world. Beauty is truly experiencing a renewal; it is living a fascinating era, and that is creating a huge challenge for brands.

Towards the “Uberization” of beauty

With the emergence of the digital, the notion of service has become central to customer experience. New start-ups are seizing the opportunity offered by this increasingly important beauty market and the emergence of mobile applications to make our jobs evolve. As an example, Popmyday, founded by Morgane L’Hostis, offers an “Uber-like” access to beauty with on demand treatments wherever and wherever customers want, at home or at work. The “popartists” can be geolocated thanks to applications.

Anne-Laure de Belloy also has the makings of a beauty entrepreneur: she is the founder of Lucette, a website offering personalized recommendations that has recently been endowed with an application for enthusiasts to be able to answer the community’s questions.

From digital to phygital (mix between digital and physical store)

The new challenge for brand-name stores is to enrich the customer experience and increase commitment, open up to avoid isolation, and create an omni-channel ecosystem.

Agnès Debains, International Omni-Channel Project Director & E-commerce Director for Emerging Brands at L’Occitane en Provence, explains the importance of both this transition towards experiential, connected stores and training for teams. In Amsterdam, the brand tested connected windows designed to adapt communication according to people’s profiles thanks to facial recognition.

Another test in the brand’s pilot stores focused on tablet applications offering three types of services: 1/ a product information service, 2/ the possibility to create a personalized beauty profile, and 3/ the recording of the customer’s history and possibility of payment. The idea is to develop “augmented advisers” with tools that can improve the accuracy of the tips given.

In conclusion, e-beauty has not unveiled all its potential yet, and the possibilities for innovation are still manifold, which leaves the opportunity for brands to brilliantly get settled into the new digital era.