The Estée Lauder Cos. has long had an army of makeup artists and hairstylists help spread the word about products through social media, but during the pandemic when many stores around the world shut their doors, they became more vital for the global beauty giant than ever.
“COVID-19 just accelerated everything, and we realized we have all of these incredible makeup artists who love to do different looks, love to give different trends, and having that ability to post that and share that has enabled us to reach more people,” said Jane Lauder, chief data officer and executive vice president of enterprise marketing at the Estée Lauder Cos. “There’s so many consumers who research before coming in store. One of the reasons people love social media channels like Instagram or TikTok is that you’re seeing the whole video and people talking about what’s important to them, so being able to bring that to life is really exciting.”
The company has aimed to marry a formalized blueprint for artists on social media with creativity and authenticity, Lauder said, noting the guidelines help the artists consider the setup, swatches, lighting and positioning.
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“It’s not as intuitive when you’re doing it on a camera,” Lauder added. “It’s more around the techniques of using the technology and being able to show yourself in front of the technology that really makes a difference. Part of it also is feeling comfortable because once you feel comfortable doing it, you’re going to post more and more and we see this constantly. We’ve seen a 200 percent increase by using real people, real artists and real experts to connect with the consumer.”
As for platforms, Lauder called TikTok “incredible” — especially when it comes to bringing ratings and reviews to life. “It’s about seeing creators or influencers or real people talking about your product and they’re sharing what’s great, what they like, what they would do differently, how it works and for me that’s really powerful because one of the number-one ways that consumers select a product is looking at ratings and reviews.”
Snapchat, meanwhile, has been more about working with its lenses. MAC, for example, saw huge engagement from users being able to try on lipsticks through different lenses, resulting in an uptick in online sales, according to Lauder.
On what’s next, the company has been trialing virtual try-ons followed by the user being sent a sample of the product in question in order to “close the loop.” “Those are things that are going to be really exciting as we go into the next couple of years. Creating those connections that are full circle,” she said.
Then there’s live shopping, which is seeing its best results for the company in emerging markets or markets where it doesn’t have as a big of a brick and mortar footprint.
“Think about China, think about the huge growth of shopping and live selling there,” added Lauder. “Part of it also is that they have hundreds of cities with millions of people in each of these cities, and quite honestly, we’re still trying to be able to put up brick-and-mortar stores in some of these cities. So you think of tier-three and -four cities [that] have 10, 15 million people in these cities, that really don’t have a lot of brick-and-mortar, so the only way for consumers to be able to learn about products, get products, is through online and having that virtual live selling really helps create that personal connection.”
As for the metaverse, Estée Lauder Cos. was one of the first beauty companies to get in on the action. Clinique debuted its first NFT in 2020 and in March, Estée Lauder introduced its first NFT as the exclusive beauty brand partner of Decentraland’s Metaverse Fashion Week.
“Metaverse is one way that you get new consumers to consider the brand, so Clinique has had a lot of new followers on Instagram and their social media channels by participating in this space, but I think there’s a lot more in the future to think about how we connect physical, digital and virtual,” concluded Lauder.
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