Commerce and community are top of mind for Jane Park of Julep, a brand that creates products with its clients input and Gregg Renfrew of Beautycounter, which is a line with a mission to sell safe beauty products via consultants, online and in select distribution.
The chief executive officers and founders sat down with Jenny B. Fine, editor of WWD Beauty Inc, to chat social selling and brand growth at the WWD Beauty Summit.
Both women are inherently focused on multichannel distribution, which Renfrew noted is an expectation of the consumer.
“Today the consumer doesn’t want to isolate or interact with any one channel,” noted Renfrew. “In terms of direct sales the story of safe ingredients and how they impact your health is really best told person-to-person.”
Park echoed Renfrew’s point of view on interacting with a customer on a physical level. “How we think about each channel is very different and we have our consumers help us with product development,” she said, giving the example of Julep’s new lip product, which the company’s community helped create. “Each channel serves a different purpose, but there is something really special about meeting someone face-to-face.”
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Fine segued into social media and asked what platforms are the most accessible.
For Julep, the most interactive places are Facebook and Twitter.
“Instagram is great for social sharing,” said Park. “But the issue with that is you can’t necessarily link them back to your Web site. Also, it’s not as interactive in terms of having a back-and-forth conversation.”
“Facebook has been extremely important for us in terms of our network independent consultants,” added Renfrew. “Many of these women are moms who are very comfortable on Facebook. In terms of brand-building and awareness we found that Instagram and Pinterest are very successful for us. In some ways there is no such thing as a channel anymore. We’re all on our phones, we’re in store, we’re online, we’re talking to people face-to-face, you need to be doing all these things simultaneously to have an effective customer experience.”
In terms of product innovation, Park explained that focus groups aren’t always the best way to go. She bluntly admitted that women lie because they are trying to be nice.
“We launch all our products as one-time only stockkeeping units and it’s only when they get repeat purchased is when we see a demand,” said Park. “Until you ask her for money, I don’t believe anything that she says. I need to see them pull out their credit card to see that this is something they really want to pay for.”
She gave the example of Julep’s Plié Wand, which was crowdsourced four months before its launch. Within 24 hours Julep had thousands of people making a purchase.
“No longer is there a day where you can tell your clients what they want,” said Renfrew. “They’re telling you what they want and what they need, what they will buy and where and how they’re going to buy it. The whole dynamic has shifted dramatically.”
Wrapping up the conversation, both women noted their brand’s current best sellers. For Beautycounter it’s Lip Sheer in Twig, cleansing oils and cleansing balm. As for Julep, its Korean inspired skin care, such as its Konjac Sponge, is doing best.
“Simplifying is a really important opportunity right now. People are time-starved,” added Renfrew. “The fact that we disclose all of our ingredients has been really effective for us.”