Why Beauty Brands With A Challenger Ethos Embrace New Buying Frontiers

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A Q&A with Liz Fogerty, Chief Strategy Officer of Edge Marketing

AW360 sat down with Liz Fogerty, the Chief Strategy Officer of Edge Marketing, an agency offering omnichannel shopper activation, to talk about the wide world of beauty marketingincluding what’s changing and how to heighten impact and drive sales.

Q: What are the “buy” moments when it comes to a person’s cosmetics journey, and how do they play into your concept of “borderless retail”?

There are a variety of triggers that create buy moments in the cosmetics space, ranging from the very simple restock to the more complex exploratory personalized treatment. Adding even greater complexity is the size and depth of the category, which offers a wide variety of products at all levels of value—from high-end luxury to private label value. Simply putting your brand out there on pegs and racks in the beauty aisle won’t get you where you want to be. Today’s brands have to truly understand, with clarity, where and when they want to present themselves. The conversation and their brand story has to start long before their shoppers walks into a store—virtually or otherwise. Their next purchase is always just a click or tap away and they need to embrace what it will take to win in each of those moments.

Q: How can beauty marketers leverage this reality and extend the path to purchase by understanding the opportunities in our new borderless retail world?

Beauty marketers, like most brands today, need to adopt an always on mentality, making sure there are present when the consumer determines they are ready to engage. It means embedding your brand in more than a functional way, thinking beyond product benefits or basic differentiators, toward becoming relevant expressions of their consumer’s lifestyle. To their benefit, beauty and cosmetics brands have the ability and the right to think beyond product usage to expand and customize the conversation to address the many diverse occasions, personalities and needs of their consumers.

Q: You talk about the importance of becoming a challenger brand. Can you describe what that business model looks like?

We believe in a challenger mentality that goes beyond the most traditional definition. Adopting a challenger mentality allows a brand to think beyond the norms, explore the slightly uncomfortable, approach a solution through a new lens and believe that there is never just one path forward. A challenger mentality is not taking a willing nilly approach, but instead making informed choices at each step in the process ensuring they are focused on the end game—maybe even changing direction along the away. Possessing a challenger mentality makes a brand fearless in all senses of the word.

Q: Tell us about the growing impact of online buying for the global beauty and cosmetics business?

The global beauty and cosmetics industry is one of the fastest-growing segments in online commerce led by indie brands like Glossier and specialty retailers like Ulta who deliver a connected, seamless experience between online and in-store. While I believe the convenience factor assigned to online purchasing lends itself more to the refill, replenishment or brand loyalty space for beauty brands, the beauty explorer may still find an in-person experience more preferable in the long run.

That said, the recent trend in pure play providers, like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club being purchased by traditional CPGs and subsequently finding distribution in traditional retail channels indicates that manufacturers see significant value in embracing e-commerce as a viable source of incremental growth, and not necessarily as a direct threat to traditional business lines.

Q: You talk about the experience society, and how experiences are the new currency. How must cosmetics brands market in ways that take advantage of multi-sensory, real-time engagement via retail design and UX? 

Actually, user experience is a space I believe that beauty brands and the industry at large have been investing in. From the vast online community of social influencer and beauty bloggers to the adoption of new technology to enhance, assist and engage with consumers, beauty brands are demonstrating that they understand the need to make shopping for beauty and cosmetics more than transactional. The beauty footprint in traditional brick and mortar retail like CVS and Target, for example, has been transformational, serving to drive significant foot traffic. Brands that are willing to differentiate when it comes to the experience they deliver to customers will be rewarded.

Q: Almost every beauty brand would agree that members, or loyalists, are more valuable than one-time buyers. How can shopper marketing strategies help to this end? 

Shopper marketing today is a sophisticated discipline, leveraging behavioral shopper data to drive consumer choice and product conversion. Once only thought of as a promotional activity, brands are embracing the practice of shopper marketing as a long-term equity builder. When done right, shopper marketing has the ability to attract and retain new buyers to a brand. Brands and categories that are embracing shopper marketing are being rewarding with growth that is as much as 50% higher than brands that have yet to take that first step.

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