Words by Elisabeth King
With the increasing use of tech tools, online and at-counter, and the necessity to be present in a wider number of distribution channels, retaining brand loyalty is as difficult as ever. Consumers have an overwhelming number of choices and many are no longer attracted by labels, brand image and even price in some cases.
The experience with the brand has returned to the spotlight, especially in prestige beauty. But even among mass and self-select brands, how consumers interact with a brand is again one of the major reasons of whether they will return.
Many beauty brands are modernising their approach to customer service by providing more personalised experiences. But the human touch is as important as ever because many consumers still prefer to engage with a knowledgeable expert they can discuss their needs with.
A big discovery leading brands are now talking about is that growing online sales can have another effect. As more people buy replenishment products only online, they are not being introduced to more suitable or new products in-store. The beauty advisor has made a strong comeback in Asia, notably in skincare, with the proviso that they provide relevant advice. Prestige beauty brands have re-focused their energies on delivering the best possible outcomes for their clients through the latest technological innovations coupled with highly trained beauty advisors.
The retail landscape has drastically changed over the past few years, with customers choosing to shop in multiple channels, notably online, says Gemma Rogers, Retail Education Manager NSW for Estée Lauder. “While the Estée Lauder brand is well-represented in different distribution channels, we have evolved our service strategy in department stores for the in-store shopper. We know that these consumers have made a considered choice and effort to visit stores, so we need to engage and reward them at counter”.
Education is vital to the on-going success of the Estée Lauder brand, says Rogers. “We ensure best-in-class education for our BAs, starting with a learning platform which has an engaging editorial feel and covers a library of products such as interesting articles, social media training and quizzes. BAs can access the platform via an app or on a desktop browser and we build upon this e-learning through practical skill-building workshops and on-counter coaching activity, with plenty of time built in for creating content for social media. We also engage our teams through social media channels to create BA communities, where best practices and celebrations are shared. In addition, we have a technology to livestream interactive training tutorials for quick, topical product launches and our BAs can comment, ask questions or make suggestions in real time”.
In-store experiences cannot be replicated online, so Estée Lauder has a toolbox of everyday events that our on-counter teams have the autonomy to create according to the specific needs of their customers and business, says Rogers.
“Our eventing strategy has been a huge success over the past year. These easy-to-run events have quickly become the norm for our BAs and the consumer feedback has been incredibly positive. To enhance the experience and expertise of our BAs, we have a digital tool that offers consumers their perfect foundation, lip and cheek pairing suggestions in just three clicks.
Our city doors also have iPads which allow customers to virtually try on any of our lipsticks. Both tools are fun, interactive and great conversation starters, but will never take away from the expert advice and personalisation that our BAs offer to new and existing customers.”
For the full article of peer conversations on the juicy subject of interweaving the human touch with beauty tech and tools on-counter, see esprit Magazine January issue – out Jan 10th 2020.