Brands such as Glossier, Bevel and Urban Decay are elevating the beauty, cosmetics and grooming space by treating customers with the type of care that builds long-term relationships instead of merely driving immediate sales. These brands are digitally transforming their categories, striking a chord with consumers beyond splashy ad copy and giving marketers at traditional beauty brands a run for their money.
And there’s a lot of money at stake. Last year, the global beauty and cosmetics market exceeded $445 billion — $80 billion in the U.S. alone. What’s more, worldwide sales are expected to see a yearly compound growth rate of 19 percent until 2023. It’s not just about female shoppers — men’s grooming is now a $50 billion industry. Meanwhile, spending is shifting rapidly to the Internet: American consumers spent roughly $12.1 billion on health and beauty items online last year, nearly double what they doled out in 2013. In a matter of five years, Dollar Shave Club, which sells men’s grooming kit subscriptions, grew from a digital-first idea to a company worth $1 billion.
Innovators in this space, like Dollar Shave Club, have proven that digital transformation isn’t just about mastering the path to purchase. It’s about caring for customers at every step — through thoughtful communication, useful content and service that goes above and beyond expectations.
In a crowded but growing space, it’s not enough to get customers in the door; caring for them after they buy is equally if not more important. After all, keeping customers happy is a cost-effective strategy; Bain research shows that increasing customer retention rates by just five percent increases profits between 25 and 95 percent. Glossier, Bevel and Urban Decay are a few of the players leading the way when it comes to operationalizing state-of-the-art customer care.
Offering Delight at Every Step
Emily Weiss, the founder and chief executive officer of skin care and makeup brand Glossier, created a label “she could be friends with.” Since launching in 2014 as a blog and community called Into the Gloss, Glossier has developed a cult following by sticking true to its founding vision and keeping its customers in mind at every point of interaction. The brand’s emphasis on one-to-one care, including direct engagement via social media, has inspired many people to become brand evangelists known as “Glossier Girls.”
In addition to publishing quality content, Glossier listens to its audience by keeping communication channels like Instagram open for direct messaging. The company offers free and easy returns, encouraging customers to try their products at home and send back what’s not working for them. These features not only make life more convenient for Glossier’s customers, but they also empower shoppers by giving them more control over their experience. Such offerings can only positively impact brand loyalty.
This strategy is working: the company raised $52 million in funding earlier this year and tripled sales last year compared to 2016. Its flagship store in New York City reportedly has a 65 percent conversion rate, and sells more per square foot than the average Apple Store.
Investing in Educating Consumers
Bevel is a five-year-old e-commerce player that designs shaving kits specifically for black men, including blades, creams and accessories. The brand creates content across its digital properties, often focusing on education and touching on subjects like why different hair types require specific razors and how to address common grooming issues like razor bumps. Bevel cares for its customers by developing content that makes their lives easier and provides inspiration.
The brand recently took this approach a step further with a 10-part video series called Mirrors, which features folks like actor Broderick Hunter discussing topics like art, business, life and shaving. Code, the Bevel blog, publishes fashion and lifestyle articles that look straight from the pages of GQ. Bevel’s web site also includes a Find Your Barber feature that lets viewers locate barbershops in 10 different metro areas. The barbershops have been vetted by the brand’s editors, who offer information such as each spot’s specialty haircuts, prices and what kind of vibe patrons can expect.
Bevel has retained an incredible 95 percent of its subscribers, with consumers spending an average of $49 per online purchase. The brand lifted sales by 200 percent annually in its first few years, landing offline distribution partnerships with Target, Walmart and other big-box players.
Making Delivery Transparent
Like Glossier, makeup brand Urban Decay has built a loyal following with smart digital marketing, then added a post-purchase layer — branded order tracking pages.
IBM research shows that consumers consider the post-purchase part of their experience more critical to their brand relationship than the experience they have before they buy. This is backed up by my company Narvar’s research, which finds that tracking and delivery are a critical component of customer care: 54 percent of consumers will give repeat business to a retailer that accurately predicts the date their package will arrive. Further, 77 percent of consumers will return to a merchant that resends lost or damaged items with expedited shipping.
Urban Decay’s tracking pages provide information including order status and expected delivery date. Since making the change, the brand has seen customers convert to sales 31 percent higher than average, while their bounce rate is 25 percent lower. These messages also enhance customers’ anticipation for deliveries, keeping the brand top of mind. The engagement is real — customers are visiting the brand’s site, on average, for 37 percent longer.
Today, shoppers are loyal to brands that exceed their expectations for customer care. Brands like Glossier, Bevel and Urban Decay are showing consumer giants the extent to which that’s true — all the while shaping the future of marketing in the realm of beauty, cosmetics and grooming.
Amit Sharma is founder and chief executive officer of Narvar.