Beauty Beat: How to connect with your customer during times of crisis

The Beauty Beat: How to connect with your customers during times of crisis

Open and transparent interactions with your customers now will pay dividends in the long-term.

  • Whether the traditional in-store consultant experience will return once lockdown measures are fully over, is debatable. The likelihood is that customers who were forced online due to these exceptional circumstances will stay there. 
  • Rethinking how you connect, educate, inspire and, importantly, resonate with your customer right now should be a priority as this will offer a level of protection if we ever face a similar global upheaval. 
  • Just because your counters are closed, doesn’t mean your ambassadors can’t do what they do best. 

With many non-essential shops still closed and others only slowly re-opening, albeit in an almost unrecognisable way, beauty brands are faced with the challenge of remaining relevant without the face-to-face in-store contact with their customer they have traditionally relied upon. Customers who previously preferred to shop in person, have had to re-route their shopping experience to the online space, and most have likely enjoyed the ease that comes with that transition. Whether the traditional in-store consultant experience will return once lockdown measures are fully over, is debatable. The likelihood is that customers who were forced online due to these exceptional circumstances will stay there. 

Many things about the beauty industry – and the economy at large – are in flux and one of those things is whether or not brands can ever expect to return to business as usual. Rethinking how you connect, educate, inspire and, importantly, resonate with your customer right now should be a priority as this will offer a level of protection if and we ever face a similar global upheaval. Here’s a look at the brands and industries that have faced this challenge head-on…

Thinking Digital-First

Beauty is a tactile business. You want to smell a perfume on your skin before committing to it, you want to test shades of foundation on your face before settling on the one you want to purchase, and you want to feel the texture of a moisturiser before deciding if it is suitable for your skin type. However, the recent changes to how we live have removed all of these opportunities and it’s likely that even when beauty counters re-open, customers will not be able to test products on their skin before committing to buy. 

As a makeup brand that heavily relies on their in-store ambassadors to sell their products, MAC are a brilliant example of a brand who quickly re-thought how they did everything. They are one of a handful of brands who have leveraged platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to reach their customers, and to disseminate their expertise via online consults, tutorials and virtual try-ons. According to Raconteur, MAC’s innovative try-on AR filter, which allows users to test-drive colours without the commitment, and from the comfort of their own sofa no less, has quickly doubled the brand’s online consumer engagement. 

Utilising ambassadors

No one knows your brand like your ambassadors who use your products every day and speak directly to your customer about their likes and dislikes. But, just because your counters and stores are closed, doesn’t mean your ambassadors can’t do what they do best. Hair salons, spas and treatment rooms have had to adapt quickly since the closures and in doing so they have demonstrated how to take a traditional, physical interaction and turn it into something just as meaningful online. 

Renowned celebrity hair stylist Luke Hersheson, of Hershesons, has been demonstrating hair styling techniques on his wife from his walk-in wardrobe on Instagram, while fellow stylist George Northwood has been sharing advice on social for cutting your own hair (with a little help from his friend Alexa Chung). Celebrity colourist, Josh Wood, has even been showing women how to dye their own hair while they can’t get into the salon while Pamela Marshall, founder of Mortar & Milk, has been holding private skin consultations via Zoom with her clients. 

On a larger scale, Gucci have taken their personal shopping experience online with Gucci Live, a video service that allows the luxury brand’s representatives to communicate with and advise customers. While in May, we facilitated a live Facebook Q&A with Volvo UK with Olympic and World Champion triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee alongside presenter Gethin Jones. Raconteur also reports that since Aveda started hosting live content with their professional artists on their social channels, they have seen a 202 percent increase in views. The possibilities are really endless. 

Image source: Twitch

Including your audience in the discussion

It’s not a secret that publishing is a notoriously traditional and slow to adapt industry or, at least it was. Authors rely on book tours, public speaking and in-person signings to generate awareness of their launch and prompt sales. So, the authors who were publishing at the onset of lockdown found themselves in unfamiliar territory. How do you promote your book when you can’t do any of the usual events? 

Chicago-based author Veronica Roth and her publisher Hodder & Stoughton had to throw out months of careful planning for the launch of ‘Chosen Ones’. They quickly came up with a virtual book tour of sorts on the gaming platform Twitch where Veronica hosted chats with her publisher, her agent and other authors, while viewers could send in their questions. It might not have been the tour she was expecting but it did make her content, and the discussions around her book, accessible to a global audience, most of whom wouldn’t have been able to attend the physical tour in the first place. 

Waterstones have followed a similar path with Instagram live interviews in place of IRL events. One such piece of content saw Stephen Fry in discussion with international lawyer and professor Philippe Sands for the publication of his book ‘The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive’ (Orion Publishing). Potential readers could comment and put their questions to the hosts throughout the talk, making them feel part of the discussion and less of a passive observer. 

Getting with the programme

The wellness and fitness industries have had to rethink how they do everything during lockdown. How do you remain relevant when your customer can’t attend your classes, or workout in your gym, or experience one of your treatments? The answer was found in Instagram lives, IGTV’s and Zoom classes. We want to feel part of something, part of a community or, in this case part of a programme. To cater for this desire, PTs and places like W3 Club, have been posting their ‘class’ schedule on social, letting their followers know when they can tune into a class while maintaining that connection between the instructor and the audience. This keeps your audience connected with your activities and goes some way to satisfy their need for structure in their fitness routine.

Talk to the digital marketing specialists

We know these are daunting times for a beauty brand, especially when the existing ways of doing things no longer work. We understand it’s hard to know where to start. Let us help you. Get in touch with our Managing Editor Suzanne Scott for a chat.

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