Bringing together some of the beauty industry’s heavy hitters, the Women’s Wear Daily Digital Forum kicked off yesterday in New York City. Presentations from leaders at Guthy Renker, Ulta, Sephora, and others, like Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin, focused on how brands can lead beauty business innovation.
The top five takeaways:
- It’s all about creating a dialogue with the customer.
While beauty brands have experimented over the past few years with how to best use social media, they shouldn’t forget that the “social” part of social media is as much about listening as it is about talking. What does the customer want? What problems are they looking to solve? What needs should be addressed? Likely, they’re already telling you.
- The future is now, and it’s real — almost.
A key catchphrase of the day was “augmented reality,” thanks to presentations by Sephora and Modiface. “Augmented reality” presents a shopper with the opportunity to “try before they buy,” often by letting the shopper see what a product like a lip stain or eye shadow might look like once applied, by utilizing a digital image or video of themselves. Sephora’s recently launched Virtual Artist has already seen some platform success, with some 19 million lip shades tried on in the first two weeks of its availability, according to Sephora’s VP of Innovation, Bridget Dolan. And Sephora’s contouring app helped solidify Contouring as a category.
What can we expect next? Modiface is already at work on augemented reality solutions for color makeup shade matching, brow shaping, and live 3-D tutorials (sort of like a paint-by-numbers for your face).
- Inform, entertain, and empower.
Thanks to the explosion of YouTube videos and tutorials the beauty customer has the capability to be more knowledgeable and curious than ever. For brands, the job becomes making product information available, understandable, and fun. Sephora gave a sneak preview of a mobile color correcting game, set to launch the first week of March.
- The fundamentals don’t change.
As illuminated by L’oreal CMO Marie Gulin-Merle, to survive in the beauty space, there are two key fundamentals: 1) a unique product with a compelling story, and 2) products that work. For all the talk about digital “game changers,” some things will always remain the same.
- Know who you are as a brand.
In one of the highlights of the day, Claudia Soare, President of Anastasia Beverly Hills (and daughter of the company’s founder), talked about how their brand utilized Instagram as a way to deeply connect with fans. As the brand has almost singlehandedly developed eyebrow care as a category, Soare emphasized that everything had to go back to hitting their core messages and being who they are. “We’ll post a cat meme, but it has to be about brows,” Soare said.
Nicole Beckley is the Director of Marketing & Media for Merlot Skin Care.