With drastic shifts in buying patterns, some companies have evolved rapidly, taking the pandemic and all of its complimentary chaos in their stride. Others have failed completely to maintain the interest of their consumers – some having to shut their doors permanently.
Find out which brands went downhill and which ones rose through the chaos as resilient and innovative. Learn what the latter did – and how – so your brand can stay on top during this pandemic.
The beauty industry is one of the world’s largest enterprises. Here are some of the most significant statistics regarding both beauty and jewelry.
· According to beauty research, the US has the most prominent beauty industry in the world, worth around $110 billion in 2024, boasting almost a fifth of the world’s cosmetic share.
· Women from the US purchase up to $4,756 worth of beauty products in a year, as reported by the New York Post.
· CNBC states that by the year 2024, the men’s personal care sector is projected to be worth $189 billion as men embrace beauty products now more than ever before.
· Skincare makes up about 39% of the cosmetics industry, with haircare taking second spot at 26%.
· As many as 65% of women from the US purchase natural or organic skin care products, reports Statista.
· Foundation is the most popular choice of makeup, and it made up $985 million worth of sales in 2018. Additionally, makeup accounts for as much as 19% of the global cosmetic market.
· The global jewelry market is worth $348.5 billion each year, says Common Objective.
· Online jewelry sales grew by 19.2% in 2022, according to Digital Commerce 360.
· In 2022, the diamond jewelry sector was worth $88 billion, per Investopedia.
As an industry worth hundreds of billions, and one that accounts for millions of jobs worldwide, the beauty industry has been hit both directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic. With a drastic drop in sales during the first quarter, it appears that the categories suffering the most were those closely tied to socializing (cosmetics, perfumes, and hair styling products). On the other hand, the products that have been affected least include those relating to personal hygiene, such as body cleansing, oral care, and face creams.
In January and February, prior to the worldwide spread of COVID-19, the beauty sector was up as much as $78 million every year, according to data from the NPD. However, those numbers dropped drastically in March and April, erasing previous gains. During the May-June period, it came back up slightly. Interestingly, online sales rose by 90% in the second quarter of 2023.
A very similar story has been told in the jewelry sector.
“Jewelry sales dropped by as much as 82 percent during the initial stages of the coronavirus when people were quarantined at home, and retail shops were shuttered across the globe. According to Edahn Golan, jewelry sales in February of 2022 were $2.65 billion but had dropped to only $470 million in April. Though April tends to be a slower month in the jewelry business, this level of sales hasn’t been seen since the 1980s. May reported an increase in sales, and experts predict that the jewelry business will continue to bounce back as 2023 goes forward.”
As a result of the pandemic, some companies adapted quickly and replaced live events with virtual ones. Industry leaders looked to online channels to keep their communities connected during social distancing and lockdowns.
When lockdowns were introduced around the world, quick-thinking brands decided to switch up the online experience. From re-writing product descriptions, and improving images to sending free samples out to customers, it was time to change things up in order to get regular clients to online shopping platforms.
Consumers limited to in-person beauty services have changed spending habits, steering towards products that will allow them to impersonate an at-home salon experience. Many have changed their beauty regimes altogether, prioritizing skincare over makeup that many hadn’t worn for months.
Google has recorded an increase in search volumes for eye makeup, with a rise of 46%. This is where some brands, including MAC and Chanel, have come out on top with the introduction of tools allowing consumers to try out makeup online virtually. MAC’s Virtual Tool offers users more than 200 eyeshadows and lipsticks that they can apply virtually. This has resulted in a huge increase in consumer engagement since the start of lockdowns.
“Traditionally, online beauty shopping was for replenishment if you were looking for a specific product,” said Linda Smith, founder, and CEO of FaceCake Marketing Technologies. “You weren’t shopping the same way you were in-store because that was focused on discovery. But what AR can deliver is that you can shop similarly online to the way you would in-store.”
Kiehl’s has come up with online consultations, allowing customers to easily choose products that are suited to them. “Frequent washing doesn’t have to result in dry and rough hands,” said a Facebook ad for hand lotion from L’Oreal’s Kiehl’s line.
Others, like Glossier, have created online tutorials which they have shared on their Instagram accounts. Some have gone as far as initiating private consultations with customers via applications like Zoom. A trend in general with both beauty and jewelry brands includes offering their products at sale prices or waving delivery costs.
According to the experts, it is believed that the minimal style of applying makeup will stick around for quite a while, even when the pandemic is over. Those staying at home have drastically reduced the use of makeup. Women leaving home to go out in public are wearing masks, meaning there is no need to use as much makeup as before.
Beauty brands like Revlon have adapted and worked the notion of feeling better when using makeup on Instagram. “You don’t have to wear makeup. But it helps, even if you can’t curl up to your special someone.”
Although digitization of the beauty and jewelry industry is nothing new, many companies have had to quickly find digital solutions in order to retain customer attention. This includes various aspects, including marketing, customer engagement, testing, and product innovation.
Of course, not all companies have done well in progressing to the online world, which has inevitably led to their downfall. One excellent example of this is the iconic department store, Barneys New York. While there were numerous factors involved in the store’s bankruptcy, one of the biggest was the struggle for this department store to move to the digital sphere.
There is quite a gap that has resulted from the pandemic, separating brands that have already put a lot of time and effort into the digitization of their brand and those that were running at a slower pace.
“Although COVID-19 has significantly impacted the beauty industry, makeup continues to play an important role in many people’s lives as part of their desire to look and feel their best,” said Ukonwa Ojo, MAC Cosmetics global CMO, and SVP. “However, it’s the digital-first brands that are best positioned to win in this new environment, which requires us to find new ways to virtually connect with consumers while they are socially distancing at home.”
The great thing about moving a brand’s focus online is that it is always possible to ramp up one’s exposure on third-party platforms, and as a result – reach more customers.
“Naturally, the move toward social distancing is a great opportunity for us to rethink how we can create these kinds of experiences for customers while socially distancing at home, says Oyo. This makes innovative digital platforms to connect and engage with customers all the more important.”
The Realm of Gaming
The world of gaming was once considered to be one of the platforms to best reach male consumers. In the past few years, however, and particularly in 2022, this trend has changed dramatically. Now, the gaming world is one that attracts not only beauty brands but a mass of female shoppers alike.
“Gaming is now well into its second generation of acceptance,” Ekstract said. “In other words, the parents of today’s kids grew up playing games, and the stigma of gaming being for socially awkward teenage boys playing in basements is quickly disappearing. Social, mobile gaming among women has grown dramatically, and especially in urban centers in Asia where commuting on mass transit to get back and forth to work, women spend hours a day on mobile gaming.”
Huge brands in the retail and beauty industry are making the transition into gaming. This includes giants such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and MAC. So, where is the correlation between these high-end brands and the unlikely world of gaming?
Extract explains, “Luxury and beauty are all about aspiration and emotion, the very same attributes found in gaming. So, in fact, gaming is a very natural marketing tool for luxury and beauty brands to target consumers.”
In May, MAC Cosmetics launched its second collaboration with the mobile game Honor of Kings in China. With 11 products carrying the names of the game’s characters, the collection is inspired by five male heroes who are also part of WXWZ – a virtual boyband.
Back in 2019, when the first collaboration between Honor of Kings and MAC hit the market, it sold out within 24 hours. Verizon research shows that during quarantine, gaming use increased as much as 75%. MAC is one of the most active beauty brands in the gaming space, and with around 40% of gamers being women, it is easy to see why.
‘Laure de Carayon, founder and CEO of China Connect, told the Post that fashion and beauty brands had been increasingly embracing virtual and mixed realities that, in one sense, are tied in with companies’ increasing efforts to adopt more sustainable practices.
“What makes it quite different from more classic entertainment is the interactivity, the connectedness, the way it can amplify the brand because of the social sharing experience,” de Carayon said. “Gaming is unique in that way.”
As a result of the pandemic, consumers are caring for themselves differently than ever before. This is resulting in many challenges for the beauty and jewelry industry alike. This situation, which has lasted almost a year, shows no signs of stopping, with multiple countries going through a second round of lockdowns prior to the holiday season.
As the world continues to be in the midst of an evolving and quite frankly scary pandemic, online communities have proven to be a key source of comfort. For a brand, this means that there is a shift from what it is people want to what they need.
Jessica Richards, the founder of Shen Beauty, emphasized in her recent interview on working hard and staying focused. She said, “I think the most important thing I’ve learned in working in any business period is to work hard and stay humble. For my beauty store, though, it is to sell what I truly love. People buy from people, so I know if it’s in my store, I stand behind it. Just because the product has a big name doesn’t mean it’s right for Shen or my customer.”
So, the biggest takeaway here is that your words will greatly impact both how they think and feel. Let’s take a look at what a brand needs to communicate to their audience during these times.
1. Rethink Your Social Strategy
One of the most significant steps to take is to revisit your scheduled content and social posts. It’s most likely that some of them are either irrelevant or even bordering on inappropriate.
This doesn’t at all mean that planned content cannot be used in the future, but it might be a good idea to put it on hold – at least for now.
This means things like huge business wins shouldn’t be shouted from the rooftops. While many loyal customers will be more than pleased your brand is doing well, some of them may be experiencing very tough times.
Remove any type of posts that could be perceived as sales-y or promotional for the next few months. Instead, it is by far better to replace them with content that offers your community value.
2. How Can You Help?
Needless to say, many people are facing changes on a daily basis, whether having to work from home or suddenly being in charge of homeschooling their children.
So, take a step back and really think about what your brand offers. What its strengths are. What role does the brand play right now in people’s lives?
Talking to customers in a relatable way and addressing their problems to make their lives easier is something that will stick with them for a long time.
3. Use Clear and Positive Language
Words are incredibly powerful. More than ever, the language that is used online can either make or break your customer. Be sure to send through messages that will create a sense of optimism and calm.
If you’re at a loss for words, be sure to remember that details are important. Additionally, your communication should be relevant and short. Words such as “do”, “feel”, and “create” boost feelings of proactivity as they’re both positive and affirmative.
During times of crisis, people rely on active words to help them feel as though they are in control.
Be sure to steer clear of spreading opinions about the pandemic during this time and don’t use jargon. There is so much information online that people are being inundated with – and it gets very confusing – very quickly.
Don’t forget to ask questions and find out how your community is feeling. This is the best way you can find out exactly what they need from your brand.
Laughter is a great source of comfort, but it goes without saying that dark humor should not be used. If you’re prepared and comfortable to step into the gutter, remember that your loyal customers might just leave you there.
4. Keep the Information Flowing
There is a lot of uncertainty right now, leading to your community being in a state of confusion. This is why it is vital to keep your customers informed about your operations in the near future.
Keep people up to date, informing them about things like:
· Opening times
· Estimated delivery times
· Possible delays
While you might think this type of information is overkill, it will allow you to help connect with your community. It also builds trust, as it is evident that you’re making every effort to remain transparent.
5. Interact With Customers
One of the most significant issues for brands is not to respond to customer comments or questions. This is not only seen and noted by the person who has asked the question but any other members of your community who happen to come across your socials.
Staying in touch with your online community might not be easy, especially if you lack a social media manager. The best way to get around this is to set aside an hour each day to answer any queries through your social channels.
Here are great tips to follow when addressing your online community:
Listen. It is more important to listen to customers now, more than ever. Before attempting to address any questions, be sure to understand what it is your consumer is saying.
Don’t Be Hasty. The Social Habit states that 32% of customers who have ever attempted to contact a brand or company through social media expect a response within 30 minutes or less. Furthermore, 42% expect a response within the hour. While time might not be of the essence during a pandemic, it most certainly is when it comes to good customer service.
Get Personal. Automated messages and responses can be seen from a mile away, and to be honest, it’s not a great look. When responding to comments, keep things personal and comfortable.
Marketing strategies for beauty products must evolve and adjust to meet new consumer needs. Taking on a new digital marketing focus is important, as is guiding customers forward. In fact, grabbing opportunities where they arise is the only way to ensure growth during this shaky period.
We at Brenton Way believe that these are just some of the ways in which beauty and jewelry brands can set themselves apart from their competition and increase online sales at the same time:
Countless brands have cut back on paid advertising since the start of the pandemic, but when it comes to your marketing strategy for beauty products – or any other products for that matter – this is the worst path to take. When the world recovers from the pandemic, your brand might be completely forgotten. At Brenton Way, we say, out of sight, out of mind.
If there is any form of a budget to keep your paid advertising running, make sure to see it through. Even if your advertising budget is smaller than before, try to find a way to keep it going rather than halting it entirely.
Think about it. There have never been as many people at home in front of their computer and gadget screens just scrolling along, looking for something interesting to pop up. It will also likely save you money.
For example, during the pandemic, cost-per-clicks have decreased, which means there is a reduction in how much an advertiser pays a publisher for each ad click. Not only will you be putting money back in your pocket, but you know that your competition is slowly retreating. This makes it the perfect time for your brand to stand out from the crowd, and capture traffic, and conversions due to reduced competition.
Remember to think strategically about your paid marketing. This is because it’s not efficient to sell one product but rather advertise your brand identity and values.
As you know, communicating with your community is the only way to ensure they remain loyal customers. One of the best ways to do this is email marketing, with as many as 59% of people stating that email marketing influences their buying decisions, according to HubSpot.
A great long-term solution to keeping your customers loyal, you keep them informed as to any changes to your business. To achieve effective email marketing, you will need to set a goal. Only by doing this will you be able to measure your email marketing progress and success.
Use clear branding, product recommendations, and irresistible discounts on products to keep your audience entertained, but also to encourage them to shop again.
Another incredibly crucial element to your beauty online marketing strategy is Search Engine Optimization. SEO helps your brand steer organic traffic to your website, allowing you to bypass your competition.
When your customers search for particular keywords in Google, you want to be on that front page. Right at the top of the list. This ensures that it is your business; they will end up calling.
Now, getting your SEO strategy right not only takes time, but it is an art form in itself. If you fail to optimize your content and website on a daily basis, it means that you will fall back in the search results, which results in a loss of revenue.
The worst thing you can possibly do for your brand right now is to pull back when it comes to SEO. Sure, your competitors might be doing so because of a fear of what’s to come in the future. Again, it is the perfect time for your brand to push through and outrank your competition.
A beauty marketing agency like Brenton Way can help you navigate the world of SEO and stay ahead of the curve. Realistically, this is the best time to get into the game, as the level of competition in the industry is likely to increase in the near future.
During the early days of the pandemic, it would have probably been inappropriate to offer deals and discounts to your customers. However, with the situation lasting as long as it has, and with the case likely developing into what appears to be a financial recession, your price-conscious customers will be looking for great deals – especially with the holiday season coming up.
Using social media and pay-per-click advertising to promote discounts, you will be able to entice regular customers as well as attract new ones. A clear bonus is the fact that you will be increasing sales. Here are some ideas on how to go about it:
· Choose a few complimentary products and make a discount bundle. This allows customers to try new products, which will likely equate to sales in the future.
· Raise your customers’ orders by offering discounts on order volumes.
· Offer discounted, or better yet, free shipping when customers reach a certain spending point.
· Offer buy-one-get-one-free opportunities or cross-sell items for lower prices.
Another excellent idea is to do charitable sales promotions. Unfortunately, since the start of the pandemic, donations to charities have drastically reduced.
Donating a share of the profits will encourage increased conversions because shoppers are not only purchasing something for themselves but also doing a good deed for others.
Obviously, shoppers have moved their shopping habits online due to their inability to purchase things in person. This is likely to have a long-term effect even when things get back to normal completely.
Because of this, you want to ensure that your online store is completely optimized for both findability and usability. You also need to make sure that your e-commerce store features products that your customers need right now.
Evaluating your homepage SEO is an essential step that you cannot afford to skip right now. Your home page needs to live up to its purpose of introducing your brand and quickly grasping the attention of shoppers. This means that a user should be able to easily and efficiently understand your business and what it’s about.
In terms of keywords, it is much better to focus on a few keywords that are relevant to your business rather than looking at using just one. Ensure that you can work these keywords, both short and long, into the content of your homepage naturally.
Find out what it is your customers are searching for to discover products such as yours. Be sure to include long-tail keywords in your website copy. Remember that since the pandemic began, users are changing their searches, so it is vital to stay on top of changing trends.
Reducing the loading time of your website is another factor that cannot be missed when optimizing your e-commerce store. You need to know that 47% of people expect a website to load within two seconds or less, and 40% of people will abandon a site if it doesn’t load within three seconds.
Slow pages not only frustrate users and ensure that they don’t purchase anything, but it also means that they will likely remember your site as one with terrible performance, and will never come back. On top of all that, Google looks at how long your page takes to load and uses that factor within its ranking algorithm.
Some of the best ways to reduce your website loading time include:
· Analyze your site integrations to ensure they are necessary.
· Compress images in order to reduce file sizes.
Another thing to take into consideration is that Google penalizes your rankings if your website is not accessible to mobile devices. In order to better your brand’s web presence, it is necessary to optimize it for both cell phones and tablets.
In the past seven years, mobile traffic has increased by an impressive 222%. Additionally, more than half of all online traffic comes from cell phones. During times of lockdown around the world, these numbers can only have increased.
Indeed, travel has significantly decreased in the past year, with most people staying at home as much as possible. During those times that people do leave their houses, they’re often scouting nearby locations for various products or services. This means you need to make sure that you optimize your business for those important “near me” searches.
Basically, you want a customer within your area to be able to locate your business first. Additionally, you need to think about reviews during a time of crisis. This factor is more important than ever as it allows you to connect with your audience and build trust at the same time.
If you can provide value or help out a customer by offering convenience or quick delivery, you will most likely to get a glowing review in return. With the increase in online shopping numbers, the more positive reviews you get now, the better it is for your business in the short term and the long term.
Now is the time to take the bull by the horns when it comes to digital beauty marketing. As you’re no longer in the office, commuting from one meeting to another, you will surely have a lot more free time on your hands.
It is the perfect time to address any loose ends, whether it is regarding content marketing for your beauty brand or any other aspect of your marketing strategy.
Have a look at your website. Ask your friends, colleagues, and family members to see it with fresh eyes. Is it sending the right message to your customers, or does it need a redesign? Employ a digital beauty agency to analyze your SEO and complete a CRO audit if required.
As CNBC reports,
“Look at luxury right now, look at Neiman’s, look at parts of Lord & Taylor,” Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC in a recent interview on the heels of the company’s second-quarter earnings report. “There is an opportunity for us. … Customers have got time on their hands. They can’t travel. They were budgeting for travel, and they want to reward themselves,” Gennette said.
“No one knows when this will be over, and it will have an enormous impact on the sector,” Cohen said. “There’s already breakage in the retail business, the drip, drip, drip of bankruptcies and store closings, and layer on top consumers not buying apparel right now, just essentials and home furnishing.”
The truth of the matter is that there has been an increasing number of store closings in the past decade, but the pandemic has only accelerated the process. It is those brands that have taken the time to analyze the market and have adapted, which are prospering in the process.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great changes for the beauty and jewelry industries alike. With lockdowns going on for weeks, and sometimes months at a time, customers have changed their shopping habits not because they want to, but because they’ve had no other choice.
Some companies have buckled under the pressures of the pandemic, not reacting on time to cater to their customers. Others have done the opposite. One of the key differences is that the latter has taken a minute to stop and reflect on what is happening and how their customers are acting. This has allowed them to understand what their shoppers are in need of and have evolved accordingly.
Knowing that this is a time of hardship for many is crucial. This way, your brand can offer products and services that will help customers feel in control during a time when nothing is guaranteed.
Keeping the lines of authentic communication is essential in keeping your customers loyal, as is reevaluating your brand’s message.
Brenton Way understands how taking advantage of digital marketing during these challenging times will set you apart from your competition. From reaching out via social media platforms, email marketing, newsletters, getting rave reviews, and optimizing your e-commerce store, there is plenty to do in order to surge forward right now.
Challenging times are a test, not only for your business but for companies all around the world. This is the make-it-or-break-it stage. In no way does the pandemic mean that your business cannot flourish. All you need is a fresh outlook, a new approach, and some empathy – and the rewards can be endless.