In an effort to meet buyers wherever they are, beauty companies are turning to wider distribution.
Drunk Elephant and Tatcha are now sold at Kohl’s, via Sephora, and Clinique and Shiseido are at Target, via Ulta Beauty. Brands are also experimenting with store features on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, as well as live streaming platforms, such as Newness. Amazon has also launched direct shopping.
This is a major change for an industry that has long believed that large or mass distribution would tarnish brand reputations.
“There may be less snobbery about the environments you find yourself in. This is coupled with the recognition that people’s buying behaviors have changed, ”said Lucie Greene, futurist and founder of Light Years.
The change was brought about at least in part by the pandemic – when stores temporarily closed and shoppers moved online or to mass retailers where they could buy everything in one place.
“We saw during the pandemic that Amazon, then the masses, pharmacies and grocery stores became outlets for beauty, and to their credit, they reacted very quickly to raise their offer,” continued Greene. “In terms of replenishment, even if it’s a bit premium like YSL Touche Éclat… I don’t think it would tarnish a brand’s reputation to have it in a vending machine or in a drug or mass environment.
Larissa Jensen, VP and Beauty Industry Advisor at NPD Group, said change is long in coming and the beauty industry has given up on some of its long-held but inaccurate ideas about perception. of the brand.
“It’s not necessarily a new concept. We’re just catching up with what the consumer wanted all along, ”Jensen said. “There are these lines that are drawn internally on the industry side, not on the consumer side. We talk about mass, we talk about prestige, but ultimately from the consumer’s point of view, none of that matters.
“From a consumer’s point of view it’s like, Oh, my gosh [X brand] is in Target – great. they don’t think [X brand] is no longer a luxury brand, ”she added.
When it comes to genuine luxury brands selling products for hundreds of dollars, the emerging approach to accessibility doesn’t apply, experts said.
“Rarity, at 100%, is something that elevates the feeling of luxury,” said Greene, referring to the Hermès beauty line and Louis Vuitton’s limited edition fragrance projects.
But for brands and retailers below these price points, wider distribution has the potential to attract new customers – and many companies are looking to experiment.
In January, beauty retailer Credo is set to launch an expanded partnership with the beauty review community Supergreat. The partnership, a three-month test, will allow Supergreat viewers to purchase Credo products via live streaming in the Supergreat app. Credo’s entire catalog of more than 100 brands and 1,200 inventory management units has been integrated with Supergreat through Shopify, the companies said.
“Superhosts will be able to label the products in their lives and customers who watch them will be able to purchase those products,” said Sophie Streimer, marketing assistant at Credo. “It’s like you’re FaceTiming with your friends. ”
Last year, Credo had started working with Supergreat to include the user-generated views of the app on the brand’s pages on the website.
“You can see these reviews on the pages, and our brands are very excited about it because they’re getting more reviews and they’re very genuine,” Streimer said. “Being able to see people see a sample on their face or on their arm, it really helped with the buying behavior. “
Credo’s goal is to add new customers, Streimer said, particularly Supergreat’s Gen Z and Millennial users. “We’ve seen that before with the streams we host. The viewer knows what clean beauty is, has heard of it, but does not really know what it means, or what Credo is. It was a great opportunity to educate and attract this new client.
The future of beauty shopping, according to Greene, will involve a massive overlap between social media, entertainment and commerce.
“The whole of how commerce, social media, and entertainment – and user-generated and artist-created entertainment – are increasingly consolidated in these virtuous ecosystems. I see a lot of this rise in purchasable beauty entertainment – beauty is almost becoming vertical entertainment in its own right, ”said Greene, speaking about the YouTube beauty festival and video content on Tiktok and Instagram.
“The fluidity or inspiration of what goes into a sale becomes streamlined in line with what we’ve already seen happening on steroids in places like China,” Greene said.
For The Ordinary, which sells low-cost ingredient products, accessibility of distribution is “extremely important,” said Nicola Kilner, CEO of The Ordinary’s parent company, Deciem.
“With the rise of social now, when your brand gets in demand, it gets in demand all over the world,” Kilner said. “It takes a long time to catch up with your distribution with this. Over the next year, The Ordinary will look to expand its global distribution by launching in India and the Middle East, she added.
The brand is sold in independent stores, along with Ulta Beauty, Sephora and in the new partners of these retailers, Target and Kohl’s, respectively.
Kilner said wide distribution works for a brand like The Ordinary because it is “functional”, not “emotional” beauty. The additional distribution from Target and Kohl’s is attracting new customers, Kilner said, but is not free from cannibalization.
“We’ve obviously seen an increase in sales, so we know there are additional customers. But we also know there is some cannibalization where old customers shop in Target, so they can just pick it up in Ulta-Target rather than standalone Ulta, ”she said.
But younger buyers, in particular, are looking for the added convenience factor, Kilner noted.
Two-year-old BeautyStat has rapidly expanded its distribution over the past 18 months, with more retailers lined up by 2022. The vitamin C-focused line is sold in most department stores, as well as a variety of retailers. online actors, said founder and CEO Ron Robinson.
“If there are additional consumers in places where we are not currently sold, yes we should expand into those channels,” Robinson said, adding he was not worried about the erosion of the market. mark but sought cannibalization.
The niche chain Cos Bar has been a good partner, he said, as the locations are in different areas and serve different consumers than BeautyStat department store retailers. “We’re seeing incremental growth – we’re seeing this is a customer that can’t find us at Saks, Nordstrom, or Neiman Marcus,” Robinson said.
Beyond additional sales, Mousumi Behari, chief digital officer and retail expert at Avionos, said brands that make themselves more available to consumers will also benefit from additional data.
“Beauty brands need to be more accessible… through social media and online,” Behari said.
“What we’re seeing a lot more are things like artificial recognition and these types of digital abilities,” Behari said. “For the customer, in the end, it’s a good thing because they are able to ‘try things out’, so to speak, without actually walking into a store. And what it does for brands is, it gives them so many more customer data points than they didn’t have. ”
These data points can be used to inform product creation, Behari added. “The most accessible options will depend on customer data, and that data will lead to personalization,” she said.
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