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Post-pandemic Needs of the New Beauty Shopper

Today's beauty shopper demands greater personalization.

Amid broad societal and personal changes due to the pandemic, beauty customers are now more discerning about the products they choose. There’s a greater focus on personal wellness and self care as well as an overall desire for personalization.

At the recent WWD CEO Summit: Beauty Unfiltered, Raji Behal, head of partner success at Klarna, interviewed Tracy Kline, senior vice president of merchandising, spa and supply chain at Bluemercury, who shared insights about these changes and how the brand evolved to meet the needs of the “new beauty customer.”

To set the context of the discussion, Behal noted how the beauty industry has gone through dramatic shifts over the last two years “with the new significance in both online and in-store shopping.” She then asked Kline how Bluemercury is catering to the customer demands of an omnichannel shopping experience.

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Kline said during the pandemic the brand shifted to digital as well as responding to changes in product categories. The company also had to shift two of its core attributes, personalization and education, to a virtual platform. This included offering online master classes, which continue in this post-peak-pandemic period. And there also were other notable changes, she said.

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“One of the coolest things that came out of COVID-19 as a silver lining are categories that were really founded by personal journeys,” Kline said. “We have categories that in the recent year around intimate feminine care, and hair loss. These conversations were more taboo in the past. Now we’re talking about needs during pre- and post-pregnancy, around menopause, around these conversations that everyone was too scared to talk about before.

“And myself as a mother, although my kids are a little bit older, there’s post-pregnancy conversations where you ask: ‘Am I the only one that has mastitis?’ You feel that way. These conversations are now being put at the forefront. And I think that’s so cool and exciting that we’re talking about things again or things that we never talked about before.”

So, as Bluemercury responds to these new customer needs, Kline said their shoppers are also communicating more with the brand. “Our clients are honest,” she said. “They talk to us. They are also super educated. They were educated before COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 even more educated. But beauty is also fashion now. And the client isn’t shy about asking questions. And if we don’t arm our teams and our digital platforms with the answers to their questions, then we’re not doing our job.”

Kline said because personalization is core to Bluemercury’s mission, offering master classes and virtual beauty hours is essential. “We just need to make sure that the client feels that we are still accessible to them,” Kline said adding that beauty has become “more personal and unique.”

That directly ties into how consumers shop, which is truly omnichannel. Kline said this also means ensuring that the shopping experience is seamless and offers flexible options, which include buy now, pay later services from Klarna. “We’re not perfect,” she said. “I haven’t seen anybody that’s perfect quite yet, but we just have to ensure that we have consistency. And of course, it needs to be anchored in technology. But there’s a fine balance when using technology. You need to be careful that you don’t lose that personal piece.”