From supply chains to retails stores, COVID-19 has disrupted the economy in an unimaginable way. Governments, scientists and conglomerates are hard-pressed for a solution in the face of an issue that is, for most of us, unprecedented. As companies grapple to survive, those who find means of adapting to the new ‘normal’ will have a competitive edge.
Sustainability has become a key oscillating factor in purchasing decisions over the last few years, but with the current pandemic putting millions of workers on furlough, consumers are paying particular attention to social responsibility.
Avon has been distributing soap across the world, and, in the UK, The Body Shop has been offering care packages to local hospital workers. Conglomerates, like L’Oreal and LVMH, are utilising their factories to manufacture hand sanitiser for hospitals, care homes and pharmacies across Europe.
On the other hand, we’ve seen brands like I Saw It First resorting “to hoarding in a time of heightened demand. Promising its first 1,000 customers a free bottle, this might be the starkest example of capitalising on a crisis when economic insecurity is rife.” Brands are finding themselves under scrutiny for their sense of social responsibility, and not all are passing with flying colours. Those who are giving back during these times of hardship are putting themselves at the forefront of customers’ minds.
A study by McKinsey shows that, prior to the COVID-19 eruption, more than 85% of beauty product shoppers preferred buying in store. This is easily explained by the convenience of trying and testing makeup before making a final purchase, especially since foundation shades and other colour cosmetics can prove tricky to buy online.
With the current pandemic, the tables have turned. Makeup labels with a robust digital DNA are flourishing.
For brands like L’Oreal, who started investing in AI and Augmented Reality back in 2019, the competitive edge is substantial and could even pave the future. L’Oreal’s acquisition of Modiface has given them access to tech that facilitates virtual makeovers both in the makeup and hair colour sector. In an industry where products can give starkly contrasted results on each individual, AI and AR promise lucrative opportunities.
Having the Right Pitch
With outdoor entertainment put on hold and remote work becoming more prevalent, colour cosmetics might well be on the decrease, but data from Contentsquare shows that, overall, the UK’s online sales for personal care products has soared by 53% over the week of April 6th to 12th.
Salon and spa closures have drawn consumers towards home care products, and these also help fill homebound evenings with new beauty rituals and regimens. Companies are harnessing this gap with the use of pertinent marketing, like this email campaign from Tarte Cosmetics: “No salon appt necessary. Lift your lashes (& your spirits)”. Adapting to new consumer behaviour and finding the right pitch can tantamount to having the one step ahead.
While face-to-face meetings are becoming a thing of the past, video calling applications, like Zoom, have become integral to work-related communications. Smart brands are learning to pitch their products to a demographic that wants to look great virtually.
Despite being under duress, creativity and data-backed strategies are helping beauty brands forge the way forward. With new challenges come new opportunities, and as makeup labels learn to circumvent the hurdles of COVID 19, the beauty industry is reshaping itself to adapt and endure.