By  on May 7, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Total Beauty Media Group is the latest to enter the beauty-sampling fray.

Starting today, the company, which operates a variety of beauty and lifestyle-oriented Web sites, including totalbeauty.com, beautyriot.com and limelife.com, is offering Total Beauty Collection boxes of four to six deluxe beauty samples for $15. In a crowded field of monthly beauty sampling services, led by Birchbox, but more recently crowded by the likes of Beauty Army, Beautybar.com’s Sample Society, Sindulge, Beauty Army, MyGlam and Goodebox, Total Beauty founder and chief executive officer Emrah Kovacoglu believes Total Beauty Collection will cut through the din with its reach — Total Beauty Media Group’s online properties have garnered 160 million visits annually — and its industry experience.

“It is not cheap providing these samples. It is hard for [beauty brands] to measure direct ROI [return on investment]. They aren’t looking just to get their products into the hands of people. They are really looking to get into their products into hands of people that are in the market and are influencers. Those are all things that we understand,” said Kovacoglu, who emphasized that Total Beauty will conduct a post-sampling analysis for brands that will track sampled items from sampling to, hopefully, eventual full-size purchase.

In the roughly eight months Total Beauty Collection was in development, Total Beauty quizzed potential customers about their sampling service preferences and learned they often object to the subscription model used by many in the monthly beauty sampling service space, most notably Birchbox. So, Total Beauty Collection decided against monthly subscriptions. For its first month, it will offer two sample boxes — one earlier and one later in the month — each of which can be purchased on their own without customers having to sign up for future boxes.

“From a short-term business perspective, it sounds great, but there are long-term effects, said Kovacoglu of the subscription-based sampling service model. “Consumers get pissed off because they get stuff because they forgot to cancel, [or] they like some of the products, but they don’t like it every single month. We actually think we will generate more revenues and get more people by not making it subscription.”

Kovacoglu argued that Total Beauty Collection would also differentiate itself from its beauty-sampling competitors by giving customers a premium experience from providing better brands featuring samples in superior packaging that he likened to the iPad packaging. “It is going to be very delightful for the consumer, and it is going to make the brands proud to be in this type of setting,” he said. Among the brands involved in Total Beauty Collection from the outset are Murad, Alterna, Pixi, NYX, Blinc, June Jacobs, Pevonia, Senna, Pur-lisse and Skindinavia.

Kovacoglu said Total Beauty Collection would be profitable from Day One for the Total Beauty Media Group. Before the sampling service went live, he noted that Total Beauty has already signed up tens of thousands of people, and he anticipated that millions would eventually do so. Going forward, themed sample boxes and enhanced customization are in the plans for Total Beauty Collections. Partnerships with retailers could be possibilities as well.

Kovacoglu was confident the Total Beauty Collection would prosper, even as he expects several beauty sampling service players to exit. “The people that will win out are the ones that really understand the beauty industry, and have beauty consumers. That’s why I think you won’t have 15 to 20 of these [beauty sampling] guys a year from now,” he said.

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