Jamie Kern Lima

QVC is set to launch Beauty iQ, a home shopping channel devoted solely to beauty, WWD has learned.

According to industry sources, the new venture, which will be launched Oct. 31, could initially reach an estimated 40 million homes through partnerships with cable conglomerates DirecTV, Dish and AT&T U-Verse. A Beauty iQ e-commerce site will be launched in tandem with the cable channel, and products mentioned on air will be available for purchase there as well.

Beauty iQ is speculated to launch with over 50 of QVC’s current prestige beauty vendors, including Givenchy, Tarte, Becca Cosmetics, Peter Thomas Roth, Josie Maran, Nest Fragrances, It Cosmetics, Nudestix, Laura Geller, Edward Bess and Dr. Dennis Gross. “Any of the big [beauty] vendors” on QVC are set to be involved with the channel in some capacity, said a source.

Sources noted that live programming will be scheduled five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The rest of the content, according to sources will be produced and slated for repeats throughout the week at the West Chester, Pa., studios.

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A big social media play is expected, and one source noted Beauty iQ content will be created for Facebook Live, YouTube and Instagram, and brands will host Beauty iQ content on their own social channels. The source noted that it’s a way to capture the attention of the “beauty enthusiast,” or a shopper obsessed with beauty products who is turning away from the QVC channel when a beauty brand isn’t live on-air. Industry sources estimate that beauty currently makes up 17 percent of QVC’s total business, and is one of the “faster-growing categories” on the network. One sourced noted that a separate QVC beauty channel already exists in the U.K.

There is also some speculation that the introduction of the new channel is a play to grab the attention of Millennials, who are less interested in watching scheduled TV, and more interested in consuming media and content when and where they want to. Though it’s no big revelation that Millennials are a key demographic to target, it’s the so-called “beauty enthusiast” who is important for QVC to capture.

Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail, noted that QVC isn’t a brand known to attract a younger audience, and is likely facing the same concerns as other traditional retailers over their beauty business losing share to e-commerce businesses and niche purveyors. Beauty IQ, she said, could be a solution to both issues. In order to attract both the Millennial and the “beauty enthusiast”, “they have to disrupt themselves,” said Liebmann. “Beauty consumers are absorbing content on Instagram and YouTube in a transparent, flexible format. They’re looking for new content all the time, and in a very personal approach, not as formulaic as you’d see traditionally on QVC.”

Meanwhile, rival HSN has ramped up its beauty business significantly this year, giving its beauty section of its website a major overhaul and listening to customer needs in order to determine what new brands to add. Liebmann, however, doesn’t see the new Beauty iQ as a direct play at upping the competition for HSN. “They’ve both been quite aggressive lately in beauty in trying to get more established and emerging brands,” said Liebmann. “I don’t see it as a direct competition — the beauty business is becoming increasingly fragmented and it becomes a big issue for any traditional retailer to hold on to share.”

Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst at NPD, noted that attracting a Millennial consumer to the Beauty iQ channel will actually help bring in other consumer generations as well. “It’s wanting to get that younger consumer, but not lose their core consumer,” said Grant. “Millennials are very much engaged with their moms and grandmas, and they’ll introduce to them to what they’re being targeted for [as well].”

The beauty category is the fastest-growing of all categories that NPD tracks, and Grant called a beauty-centric shopping channel is a smart move on QVC’s part, but noted they’d need to meet consumers “more than half-way” by placing a big focus on digital efforts and social media.

“Color is having such amazing growth, and so much of it is coming from a video media format,” a source noted. “QVC is trying to recognize the power of the beauty enthusiast within their current audience, and they’re willing to partner with more brands on their own social media channels and to try different approaches to content — they’re evolving the classic, main channel presentation.”

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