Elizabeth Ray speaking at the Beauty Inc. Wellness Summit.

Attentive vice president of client strategy, Elizabeth Ray, presented a strong argument for text message marketing. At Beauty Inc’s Virtual Wellness Summit, Ray spoke about the massive swell of business Attentive experienced at the onset of COVID-19, and the marketing opportunities inherent for brands moving forward.

Attentive, which analyzes data anonymously from the 1,000 brands it counts as clients, turned to the numbers when reasoning out its strategy moving forward. “Looking back over the first 90 days of the pandemic, what we saw was that e-commerce sales across all verticals were pacing above average starting around April 15,” Ray said. “It’s possible this was due to people realizing the effects of the pandemic may be longer than originally thought, and they started shifting their purchases to primarily be online due to help precautions. Also brick-and-mortar and store closures.”

According to Ray, there came other shifts in beauty buyers’ spending habits. “Consumers started getting used to the new normal, self-care and at-home hair-care items are primarily the top purchases in April, with perfume and makeup trending down,” she said, reiterating that the first half of the pandemic saw a mass stocking of essentials before anything else. “It really wasn’t until May that consumers started purchasing less essential items. By month three, they started shopping for more of the discretionary purchases like perfume, makeup and hand creams.”

Elizabeth Ray

Elizabeth Ray  Courtesy Photo

Beauty aside, another wellness trend started to decline, according to Attentive’s data. “Consumers were focused at at-home health, wellness and fitness during March and April. In May, as the weather got warmer and some states removed stay-at-home directives, many consumers opted for the outdoors versus in-home fitness,” she said. “We did also observe that home fitness and virtual training started trending down.”

Ray also shared marketing insights, as well as Attentive’s point of view on how customer communication is evolving. As an example, she cited text messages sent by Four Sigmatic with immunity tips. “If someone agrees to let you text them, they’re very engaged,” she said. “We’ve seen a huge uptick in mobile usage in general over the first half of the year. And it’s really what your consumers are already doing and say they want. When consumers are asked, ‘Would you like to sign up to receive text messages from businesses,’ 79 percent already do or would like to.”

The impact means greater return on investment, Ray argues, especially when implemented into a broader communications strategy. Other tools like geographic targeting, or messages triggered by consumer behavior, also boost efficacy. She even mentioned seasonal messaging, as with a product category like sunscreen, as a strong component of her clients’ communication strategies. “Text messaging drives 10 times more revenue than e-mail per message with a 99 percent open rate and upward of 30 percent click-through rates,” she said. “When it comes to incremental lift, these numbers make a very strong case for increased focus and budget.”

For more from WWD.com, see:

Can Beauty E-commerce Sales Make Up for Store Closures?

Coronavirus Impact: Ulta Beauty Furloughs Store, Salon Workers

Beauty Inc Launching Virtual Wellness Summit

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