Who needs influencers?
Julep is calling on its best customers to become brand ambassadors. To support new product launches at Ulta, where the brand entered 250 doors last June, Julep will roll out an ambassador program that relies on loyal customers spreading the word to their networks to get people in the store and shopping.
“We’ve always known the most important influencer in life is the one you know — your friend,” said Jane Park, founder and chief executive officer of Julep. “The way companies can reach customers is different today than ever before. It’s combining the community that used to be part of Tupperware clubs with influencers…the last five years we grew from celebrities to YouTube influencers, and now there’s even more democratization of that.”
During a beta test in January, 100 Julep brand ambassadors in five markets — Chicago, Dallas, Houston, San Diego, Seattle — used their local networks to support the launch of the brand’s K-Beauty skin-care set, Korean Skincare Made Simple Kit, at Ulta during the retailer’s annual January skin-care event.
And it worked, Park maintained. The approximately 50 doors that used Julep Brand Ambassadors saw 100 percent sell-through of the kit.
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“We’re using marketing dollars to geo-focus. We’re thinking in a very nuanced way about being hyper-local and hyper-personal,” Park explained. “We posted on social [media] asking people, ‘Hey we love you and how enthusiastic you are…and we want to leverage what you guys love about us,’ and asked if they were willing to help us out.”
She said that within 24 hours of the brand opening up the ambassador application process, about 500 hundred customers applied. Using geo-targeting, the group was capped at 100.
No ambassador received monetary compensation, but they each received an initial box of training materials so they felt “confident and knowledgeable,” Julep T-shirts and product to share with friends and family to get their circles excited. They were also the first to hear about all Julep happenings from products to events, as well as gain access to a private Julep Facebook group that regularly held one-on-one training meetings with Park.
“They had different tasks like handing out the samples in-store…each week they were given new tasks, [like] taking a picture of the cash wrap and hashtagging it to show they were out there and supporting the brand,” Park said, noting that the first wave of ambassadors resulted in triple the amount of customers applying to take part in the program.
It’s not the first time Julep has tapped into its consumer base to help with business decisions. Julep regularly calls upon a group of VIP customers to give their input on upcoming products and try them before they’re released. When Julep launched at Ulta, one product exclusive to the retailer was an Ultamate Fuchsia nail polish that was created with help from customers in Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards Program.
Julep has selected 50 ambassadors in the program to help with their spring promotion of the brand’s double-cleanse program, which includes Love Your Bare Face Oil, Love Your Bare Face Stick and a Konjac sponge. Each ambassador selected was provided with four oil and Konjac sponge deluxe sample sets to share with friends and encouraged to share a “shelfie” of the product showing how they “love their bare face” with a dedicated hashtag. Additionally, they will host Double Cleanse parties to introduce the brand and the K-beauty cleansing items to their community.
“It was about them connecting with their social network…telling their friends, posting about the products and sharing products they had with their friends and telling them to go to their local Ulta. It wasn’t so much what was happening in the store, as what was happening online and in their living rooms,” Park said. “In a lot of bigger companies this action couldn’t happen. There is power in unlocking smaller communities in more personal ways.”