The biggest innovation right now is in beauty kits being sold online. Think of these as meal kits, but with a variety of cosmetic products instead. Typically, these kits will include a colour palette for eyes, face powders, concealer, and eyeliner. Depending on the season, retailers will promote these kits and create a basket to entice consumers to purchase. However, the biggest drawback that retailers have voiced is that because consumers cannot sample these products before purchasing, they are seeing more product returns. When consumers go online and start interacting with different colours to purchase with their kit, colours reflected on the website need to be exact because if the colour does not turn out to be the colour perceived, (even by a slight shade), consumers will often return it. This ties back to the difficulty in crafting a quality customer experience with these products when the store environment has drastically changed.
Another popular innovation is in virtual education and customer service. Brands and retailers are collaborating to teach consumers how to apply makeup either through video or by utilizing virtual reality to view how a product will look when applied to the consumer. Each brand has created a team that educates retailer teams about their brand and how their products work in practice. The brands even train the retailer teams on how to promote their products. If customers have specific questions about the product, they will also advise the retail teams on how to best answer them and provide support. If I am shopping online for example, and I need assistance, e-commerce site associates can help me directly via chat or video on specific products, and they can also direct me to ‘how-to’ videos that the brand has created. This model has shown to be very strong, and retailers outside of prestige and cosmetics such as fashion and apparel have adopted a similar model.
Lastly, many brands have begun to shift away from working with celebrities on product endorsements. This was happening before the crisis had started, as many consumers have adopted mainstream social media applications such as Snapchat, Instagram and Tik Tok. Brands and retailers are now able to identify and partner with ‘influencers’ through these platforms. Influencers are people who express expert-level knowledge of a product or a niche (such as foundation, colour palettes, etc.) and use video, photos, and other media to connect with consumers. Influencers create creative, interactive campaigns with brands and retailers which have proven to be very effective to drive in-store and online traffic. For example, they would request consumers to post videos and photos of how they are using their products to win prizes such as free products or store gift cards. In fact, one of the biggest influencers today are consumers’ own children. Children will talk about new products with their parents and effectively ‘influence’ their purchase decisions. This has been noticed with more traditional and start-up brands that are targeting 15 to 20-year-olds.