The pandemic has caused rifts across many sectors whose function depended solely on human interaction. However, in recent months brands have driven innovative strategies in response to the changing environment – beauty being one of them. Confer With look at what customers are looking for now and what it means for the future of beauty.
Overview of beauty sector
Before COVID-19, 85 per cent of beauty products were purchased in-store, with millennials and Gen Z accounting for 60 per cent of those purchases. Even tech-savvy generations relied on in-store interactions to influence specific purchases that require consultation prior to purchase. Store closures and social distancing will mean when we do go back to a state of normality, the way consumers shop and brands market their products will be far from what it was before.
The beauty industry is well and truly undergoing digital transformation. GlobalData identified that 37 per cent of consumers purchased health and beauty products online. GlobalData also forecasts an eight per cent rise in overall health and beauty spend, equating to an additional £2 billion. More interestingly, beauty brands are investing heavily in Augmented Reality (AR) and Video Commerce to replicate in-the-flesh purchases.
Augmented Reality in beauty
Global AR ad spend is estimated to grow to an astonishing $2.6 billion with companies racing to provide a seamless online journey. Afterall, 87 per cent of consumers say brands need to try harder in providing such an experience. L’Oréal’s Tap and Try is a prime example of using AR technology. Consumers can have a “virtual try-on” based on recommended products. Online ambassadors are also available to enhance the customer journey, whilst empowering them with knowledge of customer interests and needs. Secondly, in November 2020, features were added like “Signature Faces”. This integrates with platforms like Snapchat and Zoom and allows users to select predefined filters, escaping the “just got out of bed” look. These examples demonstrate the mission to humanise the virtual shopping experience. People thrive on social interaction and this behaviour filters down to the shopping experience.
Video Commerce in beauty
For key beauty players, investing in AI is a financially available option but is there a more inclusive alternative for businesses? Video Commerce could be the answer. Customers can browse a website and when prompted can schedule a video call or begin one immediately with a beauty expert. Then, a shared basket is created allowing a great sense of transparency and control between the shopper and retail expert. The customer can experience a high level of product immersion, with the expert showcasing inventory through imagery, videos, and on camera. Beauty and LED specialist, Light Salon, have been using the shared virtual basket with their customers to great success. Having the entire stock inventory at their grasp allows for natural cross-selling whilst addressing the needs of the consumer. The product immersion and human interaction is a close match to the much-missed in-store engagement.
Finally, what does it all mean for beauty retailers? From a customer point of view, they want a close imitation of previous in-store interactions whilst experiencing a seamless online journey. From an operational point of view, beauty brands must invest in their digital strategy to remain competitive and drive sales. What we can learn here is even in a growing digitised world, customers want a personable service with their needs being met.
Confer With provides a platform for one-to-one and one-to-many livestream video dialogue between retail experts and shoppers online. Learn more about Confer With.