In the beauty industry, it pays to have people talking.
For Landing International, the B2B technology company that provides web and mobile tools to beauty and wellness brands to connect with buyers and succeed at retail, retailer’s beauty advisors hold the key for brands to connect with a greater, more meaningful influencer base. These advisors are quite literally where the customer is shopping for beauty, in the store and poised to lead a consumer on the shopping journey.
“For retail brands, the battle is won or lost on the retail sales floor,” said Sarah Chung, founder and chief executive officer of Landing International. “Yet most brands would rather invest in influencer marketing than in education or gratis. We think that is a huge miss because while those brands are not paying attention to wooing beauty advisors, other brands are converting beauty advisors and building an army of ambassadors.”
Unique to the beauty industry, Chung told WWD is that consumers are so often looking to address a very specific concern. And with so many brands on the floor consumers will often rely on a store advisor to help them navigate. Better informed beauty advisors are better able to help consumers who walk in with questions about brands and products.
“Given the sheer number of brands and products, it is quite difficult to stand out unless you have a solid recommendation or compelling reason to choose that particular brand or product,” said Chung. “One hundred percent of beauty advisors in our recent survey concluded that they are either more likely or much more likely to recommend a product to customers after receiving training on that product. Nearly 71 percent of respondents said that sharing their personal experience with a product is the best way to convince customers to purchase it themselves.”
The company’s survey also found that 91 percent of advisors said that customers sometimes or often ask about products they know little about. And 62 percent of respondents said the majority of customers come into stores looking for products that address a specific skin concern, showing how important it is for beauty advisors to truly understand the products.
It’s a huge problem for the consumer, the brand and the retailer. According to survey data from Landing International, the top reason that customers don’t see results from a product is an incorrect usage. This issue is something that not only could have been easily avoided with proper information from a beauty advisor but ultimately costs the brand and retailer who lose a customer due to poor experience.
“This highlights the importance of educating customers on how to use a product,” said Chung. “Education is critical to repeat purchases which is a key factor in maintaining sales to justify shelf space.”
Unfortunately, retail training today is largely not only costly but also ineffective for brands and unempowering for beauty advisors. Landing International’s research found that brands can expect to spend 10 percent of retail sales on training, making it unaffordable for smaller brands. Still, Chung estimates that indie brands that don’t invest in training will not last longer than 2-3 years at retail. At the same time, the training is often impersonal where brands receive little to no feedback on training and have no insights as to what is happening in stores, making it difficult to measure.
Training has also been a pain point for beauty advisors who told Landing International that past experiences have been inconsistent, hard to remember, not rewarding and disconnected.
Having helped hundreds of beauty brands launch and work to maintain in retail, Landing International’s newest solution, Beautyfluent, aims to tackle all of these pain points and level the playing field for brands to create influencers out of beauty advisors. The mobile app is designed to make education effective, transparent and rewarding for brands, beauty advisors and retailers.
Beautyfluent offers a better way to train with a lower cost for retailers, increased knowledge on the spot, design for selling and increased employee engagement. Acknowledging that smarter data also leads to smarter decisions, the Beautyfluent app also provides brands and retailers access to track training outcomes, monitor processes and asses brand engagement.
“We have seen from experience that when training with Beautyfluent sales not only spike while trainers are in store but there is a sustained increase as beauty advisors can always access the info within seconds on the app,” said Chung.
The Beautyfluent app has been designed to value education, collaboration and community. Beauty advisors train on the spot with the ability to scan the products to learn more, learn more about the brands at a specific retailer and discover product benefits and demo tips.
“We are the first to bring barcode scanning technology to pull up training information in seconds,” said Chung. “We focus on information that is focused on helping the beauty advisors – such cross-sellers, how to demo and sales tips. We are also building a rewards system that rewards beauty advisors for their participation on the app, giving feedback to brands and allowing them to select the gratis they are interested in.”
Beauty advisors are also able to connect with brands through direct messaging that supports building a relationship and engaging with other professionals to access the most diverse, inclusive and connected community of beauty advisors in the world. Additionally, the app creates instant benefits for beauty advisors, the more they engage, the more perks they can earn.
Notably, a beta version of Beautyfluent was used to help Landing International launch 17 brands in J.C. Penny’s new beauty concept. Brands that utilized Landing’s BeautyFluent app to train J.C. Penney sales associates saw an immediate and sustained increase in sales. Results include Everyday Human experiencing a 117 percent increase in sales in the average weekly sales following training. Similarly, ST. Moriz experienced a 166 percent increase in sales in the average weekly sales following training.
“What we learned from launching these brands at J.C. Penny Beauty is that we need to tell a unique story for each brand so that the beauty advisor, and customer, quickly understand what is special about the brand and their products,” said Chung. “We also learned how important it is to break down product recommendations into concerns, skin types and benefits because a beauty advisor has to quickly know which product is the best for the customer coming in with a concern.”
With J.C. Penny Beauty expecting to launch in 600 stores by the end of 2023, Landing International will continue to provide support for brands and beauty advisors with tools including Beautyfluent.
“We believe beauty advisors are the true beauty influencers,” said Chung, “and we are committed to empowering and elevating this group of professionals.”