By Lisa Curry, Retail Industry Account Director, SAP

The beauty industry has been democratised. Today’s consumers are finding makeup and skincare much more accessible and are exploring more brands than ever before. According to Harvard Business School, 82% of beauty shoppers use Instagram at least once a day, providing a huge platform for new and challenger brands.

Meanwhile, ultra-confident beauty consumers are using social media to turn themselves into influencers, providing expert make-up tutorials and skin-care advice. With 67% of beauty shoppers saying they look to influencers to discover new products; social media really has taken over the market.

Here are the exciting ways you can stand out to new and existing customers:

1. Recruiting your tribe

Brand values have never been so important. Today’s shoppers want to identify with brands. Start by making sure your USP stands out from the crowd and everyone in the business is aligned with your identity. Are you against animal testing like The Body Shop? Ultra-kind on sensitive skins like REN? Or pro-planet like Facetheory?

A handful of primarily online brands, capitalise on select stores with beautiful designs orientated around experience. These are so successful, many have excited queues around the store, all thanks to clear shared values and sincere brand identity.

2. Surprise, surprise!

Who doesn’t like receiving a surprise in the post? Subscription boxes like Birchbox have shaken up the market considerably in recent years.

The model has also paved a new way to get products in front of potential new customers. It’s the modern, more digitally-effective version of a free sample product on the front of a women’s magazine – while offering discounts to encourage those shoppers to buy their favourite full-sized products.

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Beauty brands can benefit from partnering with subscription boxes to be part of the real-world, unboxing excitement, as well as connecting online through advice and tutorials while gathering data on a new target audience.

3. Immersive hybrid model

For those established retailers and brands with a store footprint, now is not the time to stand still. Today it is much easier for a customer to change brand allegiance at the swipe of an Instagram story or the tap of a ‘buy button’. The traditional players need to truly integrate their strong brand presence with online and in-store activities.

One huge player in the beauty space is The Body Shop, which has undergone a digital reinvention. With SAP’s help, the retailer, adopted a headless commerce model that gave them agility to quickly develop new touchpoints and launch new digital experiences for their customers.

The likes of Boots and Sephora have also identified the customer shift and reacted accordingly with interactive beauty experiences in its stores and new ways of product merchandising. Take Boots as an example, it was one of the first retailers to capitalise on the power of data with the launch of its Advantage Card loyalty programme, but this is no longer enough. The beauty giant has recently overhauled its traditional beauty hall with discovery areas, live demonstrations and trending zones, and provide beauty advice via their app.

Another fantastic example is Charlotte Tilbury. The British make-up artist only launched her first physical presence in Selfridges in 2013, before a flagship in London’s Covent Garden followed by a few other standalone stores alongside traditional beauty counters.

The luxe store design features exciting elements like ‘magic’ augmented reality mirrors, while this experience translates to eCommerce with its ‘shop with friends’ virtual reality store where customers can shop online together. The website itself is a platform for the brand’s online beauty masterclasses, events, virtual appointments, and more AR-try-on technology. If customers create an online account they can access product recommendations based on their zodiac sign, or the opportunity to bring back discontinued products.

Established retailers and brands should take a leaf out of Charlotte Tilbury’s recent expansion. The business’ understanding of the power of digital-first is not outweighed by the inherent need in this industry to want to touch and feel the products, becoming a destination experience for customers.


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