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Anne Aime

Online sales: What digital strategy for cosmetic brands?

Online selling appears sometimes for young perfume and cosmetic brands as the best mean to overcome difficulties in accessing an ultra-concentrated distribution world. For already established brands, it is a tempting way to increase sales and offer consumers an additional service. But to achieve this, the basics of e-commerce must not be neglected! While it seems essential for consumers to be able to buy online, it is not always profitable for brands to sell their products themselves...

Online selling is experiencing an indisputable boom. Today, more than 8 out of 10 internet users buy online. For all that, it would be dangerous to venture into e-commerce without having an in-depth understanding of internet usage. The online consumer is hyper volatile and has endless possibilities for comparison. His buying behaviour does not depend so much on brand offerings, but more on the less predictable outcome of individual initiatives. He will find the information he is looking for where he wants, when he wants, the same way he will choose his purchasing channel.
For a perfume or cosmetic brand the appropriate strategy should be:

  • to make sure to be visible and valued when and where a consumer expresses a need that can be satisfied with its products,
  • to make it possible for the consumer who wishes to buy the products, do be able to do it fairly easily, either online or in a brick and mortar store.
    All this involves three stages: the management of a positive online reputation, the implementation of a relevant natural indexing strategy, and finally a profitable – online or not – distribution strategy.

E-reputation: the first customer/brand contact

A well managed e-reputation, is of course to identify very early if your products are depreciated. But it is mainly to ensure that when a conversation on the internet offers the opportunity to quote your brand, it is actually done. Within a given theme (eye make-up, perfume, manicure, etc..). The criterion of business efficiency is highly correlated to the number of times your brand is mentioned. At this level, the worst thing for a brand, would be to not be quoted or spoken about.
Despite all the things you may have been led to believe, you have a 99 percent chance that your customers won’t form a community, and Facebook won’t be able to change a thing to this. Conversely, topics like beauty, hair styling, or simply femininity represent a number of opportunities to interact with the consumer. It is by going back upstream, to concerns that lead to the need for a product that a brand can be positioned to reach an objective: be visible and valued by its target audience.
It is a 3 stage “user’s manual”, and it requires to accept that time for reflection, is time and money that will be reaped later: study what is being said about your brand, your products, those of your competitors, but also on related thematics (beauty, hair, make-up, etc..), be consistent with your approach by choosing both the themes on which to intervene and the relay persons, then take the floor to enhance the brand and create a relationship.

A relevant natural indexing strategy

Another key point of digital strategy is to integrate that, unlike the physical world, there is no actual location on the internet, i.e. there is no constructed and materialized road for people to take naturally and stop in front of your shop. The role of natural indexing consists therefore in bringing visitors to your website, with no specific recruitment budget, by relying on the spontaneous behaviour of the internet user.
Of course, if your website appears when an internet user types the name of your brand, it is a source of satisfaction. Mostly for the ego or for those who would only prefer selling to their existing customers... Because for business matters, it is simply not sufficient. This means that your visits are limited, not only to those who already know you, but also to those who think of you first before thinking of their need... If you operate in the field of haircare products, you will miss all the opportunities coming from customers who type “curly hair” or “curly hair shampoo”, etc. You will miss the expressed requirement of your customer.
These issues must be taken into account at the design stage of your website and in the management of its content, with digitally suited formats, relevant keywords, and regular updates.

Go for direct online sales?

When the information on the existence of your products circulates positively and you build and maintain the roads leading to your brand space on the internet, having a point of sale can turn out effective. There is no magic however, on the Internet, contrary to some given ideas. Selling online is neither easier nor more profitable than selling in a physical store, it is simply different.
Indeed a merchant website will cost (in appearance) less than a brick and mortar store. This is a mere appearance because it is simply not the same thing. Who would buy a store with an address that does not appear on any plan?
In some cases, selling directly online is a real plus. For a start up brand, which has no or very few point of sales, an online store enables to be distributed, against a reasonable investment. For a brand that already sells under its own brand name, it is a natural supplement. For other brands, costs and benefits must be measured, to be sure to generate sufficient margins and volumes and a quality of service that does not interfere with the brand image.
But even if a brand does not “personally” sell online, its digital strategy will significantly impact its sales, especially via the ROPO [1] and showrooming [2] effects that directly benefit to off-line sales. The internet has become an important place to promote one’s brand and products to consumers as well as to retailers. This is why brands will be interested in taking the lead, not only for online sales, but also for sales themselves.

Anne Aime


[1] ROPO: Research Online Purchase Offline. According to the McKinsey survey on “The impact of the Internet in the French economy” (“L’impact d’internet dans l’économie française”), dated March 2011, for a 1 euro spent online thanks to the presence of a brand on the Internet, 1.2 euro will be spent in physical stores.

[2] Showrooming: a strong growing trend, which consists in browsing the internet on one’s mobile phone, while being in the store, to compare information on a brand or a product and potentially buy it online.

© 2014 - Premium Beauty News -
about Anne Aime
Anne Aime

From key accounts of the traditional economy to the pioneers of the French web, Aime Anne knows the different cultural, organizational and economic aspects of businesses struggling with the digital revolution.

In 1998, she began her career at a French Internet industry pioneer group, ( Surf) where she headed the Business Development Department.

In 2001, at a BtoB software editor, she discovered “traditional” economy and implemented change management methods. As of 2006, she implements innovative working methods, based on Users Experience, within the company Nealite - PwC.

In 2010, she created 2Way Consulting, a consulting firm specializing in digital marketing, as a competitiveness tool within B2B environments. More than tools themselves, she is convinced that the main challenge of the digital transition is usage value. That’s why she created the DiVA (Digital Value Added) method, to remove cultural impediments, to put visions in line and to ensure digital creates added value.

More information at: 2Way Consulting


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