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Beauty Roundup: January 15, 2010

Many Americans are using their cell phones as a shopping tool, and this trend will undoubtedly impact how beauty products are marketed in the future.

There’s an App for That

As a reporter just a few years ago, I was often confronted by store security when taking photos in stores. Now I can shoot away on my cell phone without a glance from store personnel. In fact, it is downright expected. Sometimes I send a photo text to my daughter of an outfit she might like (and sadly she texts back, despite being in school).

I’m not alone.

Many Americans are using their cell phones as a shopping tool, and this trend will undoubtedly impact how beauty products are marketed in the future. According to a recent Motorola Global Survey, more than half of consumers used mobile phones for holiday shopping activities. The phones are used for price-comparison shopping, peer feedback, product information and coupons.

According to the study, the use of mobile shopping technologies hit a crescendo during the holiday season. The survey identified that 64 percent of Gen Y (aged 18 to 34) shoppers used their mobile phones for in-store shopping-related activities during the holiday season. In addition, all surveyed age segments cited interest in next generation retail technologies, demonstrating the growing consumer demand for real-time information to make better informed shopping decisions. In fact, when in-store associates were equipped with mobile technologies, such as two-way radios and handheld mobile computers, surveyed shoppers reported a better experience due to the use of the devices (59 percent and 56 percent, respectively).

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“With nearly seven in 10 surveyed holiday shoppers either reporting flat or declining budgets, retailers vying for finite shopper dollars need to provide a seamless customer experience,” said Frank Riso, senior director of retail solutions, Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions. “By utilizing mobile technologies, consumers have become empowered, better informed and more critical shoppers. Retailers need to establish near-term strategies to provide product information, stock availability, discounts and coupons directly to shoppers to help them remain competitive.”

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How can cell phones be used in beauty? Companies such as Markwins are already activating coupons via cell phones for Wet ‘n’ Wild products. Going forward, companies might have an option where a consumer could scan a UPC item on, say, a mascara, and then get tips on how to use it and what other products to buy with it to achieve a look. Cell technology could even become a beauty consultant, offering advice about products in the store. For example, a consumer scans a bar code on a new fragrance and automatically gets either a text or voice message about the notes of the scent.

It really is a brave new world of retailing. Now excuse me while I take a photo.

People, Places and Things

A few words with Bill George, president of Markwins, about the holiday. Markwins tried some new programs this year with retailers, including tailoring its kits to specific needs.

WWDBeautyNews: How was Christmas?

Bill George: We saw a nice lift. There were two frames of thought by retailers — those who kept very tight inventories for a clean sell-through and those that wanted to really offer a big selection. Sell-through was good, so we think people will look to grow their top line for next year.

WWDBeautyNews: What categories did well?

B.G.: We found pencils in particular were strong this year. Eye and nail are driving the business. In top-to-top meetings, we find the mood is very positive into 2010. But value is important and price points that are considered a value.

What’s in Store

With Shiseido snapping up Bare Escentuals, many market experts expect to see a flurry of further acquisitions. There are a handful of mass brands that could trade ownership in the next few months, some industry sources predicted.

P&G Online: P&G and e-commerce services company PFSweb will begin piloting an online store this month. Named the eStore, the online shopping site will be owned and operated by PFSweb and exclusively feature P&G products to consumers in the U.S.