Creating new rituals
Ongoing lockdowns have instigated different ways for Australians to experience beauty and wellness moments, replacing old rituals. Instead of a monthly facial, a weekly beauty treatment at home could now be your new habit. Even something as routine as the daily application of makeup may no longer be required and could be replaced by a short meditation or self-care practice. For retailers, this means that their regular customer is now accustomed to their pampering and beauty routine at home and this is where you have to meet them.
Progressive retailers should be leveraging this white space to provide replacement experiences that give consumers an equal sense of belonging and connectedness to the brand, and to their family and friends, from home. A great example of this was TikTok’s collaboration with brands such as NYX Professional Makeup and L’Oreal’s Essie, to launch ‘Small Gestures’. ‘Small Gestures’ is a feature that allows TikTok users in the US to send promotional gifts and treats to their contacts. The idea was inspired by a social gifting ritual popularly practiced in China and is intended to help users feel connected with friends and family during the pandemic. With more than 350,000 gifts redeemed and sent to loved ones in April 2020, TikTok launched a second round of ‘Small Gestures’ in August 2020.
Reimagining the physical store
The decade of the home is here. Retailers are under unprecedented pressure to maximise return on their physical assets and adjust their operations for omnichannel offerings. Australians will be excited to return to stores and retailers will need to determine how to engage customers in a meaningful (and safe) way. However, to retain the attention of shoppers long-term, stores must be able to offer something the online experience alone cannot replicate.
Japanese beauty brand, Shiseido, embraced this challenge with the opening of the Shiseido Beauty Square concept store in Tokyo in June 2020. The store is divided into four sections – Go-Live, Brand, Installation and Salon. Go-Live features screens displaying live streams and product advertisements, while the installation area is designed for pop-up stores and events, where shoppers can create their own 3D avatar and experiment with makeup by Shiseido. Shoppers are also able to book physical sessions with Shiseido’s hair and makeup artists in the Salon. This engagement channel activates for Shiseido the best of the virtual world into their physical space to make the shopping experience more experiential, social and unique.
Being good is good for business
We are living in the new era of responsible retail. Globally, 66 per cent of consumers are likely to make more sustainable or ethical purchases in the next six months (Accenture Consumer Pulse Survey, 2021), and ESG factors must be incorporated into every decision to manage risk and generate long-term brand value. For beauty retailers, the ‘social’ in ‘ESG’ is particularly important, with inequality and social injustice becoming dominant issues in recent years. Brands should be looking for opportunities to bring ethics to the forefront of their business, taking a stance on social issues and driving a more inclusive and diverse beauty industry in innovative ways that are authentic to the brand values.
Sephora has paved the way by signing the ’15 Percent Pledge,’ dedicating 15 per cent of shelf space to Black-owned companies, vowing in their social posts to ‘understand the blind spots and disparities’ in the industry.
MAC Cosmetics took social causes combined with customer experience innovation to new levels by partnering with The Sims to inspire 12 new makeup looks and colour palettes that worked with an array of skin tones. Through the Create-a-Sim tool, gamers can sample and mix and match, then replicate the on-screen looks in real life by opting into buying the physical products. With the ongoing pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, MAC saw the opportunity to engage a diverse and universal audience that had taken to creating their own utopias via gaming. They took advantage of this platform to connect with consumers, offer a virtual customer experience, enhance brand relevance by promoting inclusivity and, ultimately, encourage sales conversion.
As we emerge from the pandemic, retailers must be conscious that health and beauty is a personal experience and unique to each person. Consumers will be looking to purchase more ethically and sustainably and will have introduced new self-care rituals that retailers will need to catch up with and engage consumers in a very targeted and authentic way. They will also be craving refreshed, innovative products and experiences, and the ability for brands to cater to consumer lust for the differentiated will be critical to their future success.
A great example is that of perfume producer, Eau de Space, which worked with NASA to develop a scent that smelt like space. For every sale of the product, the company gives a portion back to a STEM program encouraging experiential space education.
Beauty experiences post-pandemic must be experiences that matter, that constantly strive for uniqueness, that are inclusive, accessible and representative of all – and will be driven first-and foremost by the needs of the consumer.