Homepage. Check. Facebook fan page. Check. Twitter account. Check. With the basics covered, a number of beauty companies are blazing a more aggressive path online.
It’s a bid to go where their customers go. Consumers worldwide spent more than five-and-a-half hours on social networking sites in December, an 82 percent increase from the month in 2008 when users were spending just more than three hours on social networking sites, according to The Nielsen Co.
This story first appeared in the January 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The way we communicate to consumers from an advertising point of view and how we promote brands has evolved,” said Scott Beattie, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden Inc., an early pioneer in leveraging the power of the Internet and social messaging sites to sell beauty products, notably with the company’s Britney Spears fragrance franchise. “We saw the use of innovative new digital, viral and social networking really explode with the celebrity fragrance category,” he said, adding that companies could leverage a celebrity’s online presence. “We are realigning how we’re talking to customers. Traditionally, they learned about our products through the beauty press; now, just as many or more get their information from blogs and online search engines, and the way we allocate our dollars is going to reflect that on a global basis. And there’s been a tremendous emergence of micro apps for smartphones and more are coming.”
Avon Products Inc.’s flirty beauty brand for young women, Mark, broke new virtual ground late last year by introducing one of the first digital social selling applications on Facebook, which now boasts 350 million active members. According to the social networking site and Avon, Mark’s sales widget is a first for the beauty industry. The online tool allows members to socialize and buy products from Mark representatives without leaving Facebook.
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Avon’s move to link online shopping and social networking ties into Mark’s larger strategy of infiltrating communication channels most relevant to the legion of 40,000 to 50,000 Mark representatives, who range from 18 to 30 years old.
Mineral makeup company Bare Escentuals plans to forgo TV ads and rely heavily on the Internet for its latest ad campaign, Rethink What Matters, which launched Jan. 22. Each of the campaign’s outdoor ads directs consumers to a microsite, rethinkwhatmatters.com, which present visitors with a weekly discussion topic. Bare Escentuals is also partnering with Facebook to run a variety of “engagement ads,” including video, polls and fan page invitations. The company also plans to launch a Flickr page.
For its new Beyoncé Heat fragrance launching next month, Coty Beauty first created a teaser Web site, readytocatchthefever.com, which made its debut in December with an e-blast to Beyoncé Knowles’ fans on Facebook and MySpace. The Web address now bounces users to beyonceparfums.com, where visitors can view behind-the-scenes moments with Knowles, discover the details of her scent collection and find out about promotions retailers are doing. Users can also link from the Web site to a unique Facebook application, How Hot Are You?, which rates a user’s profile on its Fever Meter. It is designed to allow potential purchasers to see just how sizzling — or fizzling, as the case may be — they are (as Knowles is heard singing “Fever” in the background). Higher scores — which can be obtained by recruiting new users to the site — allow users to access unique Beyoncé content.
Referring to wealth of material about beauty online, Beattie noted, “The information itself has become very sophisticated, as has the ability to access it — both wireless and traditional networks offer the capability now. Customers can do significant research on all their potential purchases quite easily — they’re able to find the best price and understand all aspects of the product. I think ultimately, a much higher percentage of beauty business will be done online.”
“Facebook and Twitter are all part of this growth,” said Beattie. “Next, maybe someone will develop an app to buy beauty products. While the technology is next to impossible to predict, the next 20 years will change the global beauty industry in ways we’ve never seen. We’ve played for the last 50 years to 25 percent of world’s population. As markets emerge — including China, India, Eastern Europe and South America — personal care products are one of the first things they aspire to. Companies that can leverage awareness of their brands on a global basis — like Procter & Gamble, the Estée Lauder Cos., Avon and Arden — will continue to be very significant global players and winners as a result of these opportunities.”