We’re looking ahead to IRC 2019 in a series of interviews and previews. Today we hear from Ros Lawler, senior ecommerce consultant at Pai Skincare
InternetRetailing: At IRC 2019 you’re taking part in a panel session on the changing nature of customer loyalty. Who is the beauty customer today – has this changed in recent years, and how?
Ros Lawler, senior ecommerce consultant, Pai Skincare: Customer loyalty in the beauty industry has changed dramatically over the past decade. Where previously consumers were fiercely loyal to a brand and a routine (Clinique 3-Step System being a great example) they are now easily persuaded to change brand for a number of reasons:
- There is a continual influx of new brands and products coming to market. Newness is a massive driver of sales and there is no end to the launch of innovative, exciting new products
- Beauty products are now available across a wide range of channels – from Instragram, to airports to supermarkets, curated beauty boxes and online behemoths like Sephora, Look Fantastic and Amazon. They are no longer contained in the domain of overly lit, highly perfumed department stores which makes it very easy to try new brands.
- Discounting, along with the whole retail industry! Once loyal customers will jump ship for new brands and products on offer. The number of intro offers is overwhelming. And once customers have made their first discount purchase, the real challenge is persuading them to make a second purchase to cover the cost of acquisition.
- The growth of #cleanbeauty, particularly amongst younger consumers, is making an impact. Shoppers want to know what’s in the products, how they were sourced, where they were made and if the packaging is re-cyclable. Gaining accreditation for this can be slow and expensive.
IR: Tell us about a challenge that you’ve encountered in understanding and retaining those customers – and how you’ve dealt with that? Is it the result of a longer-term change in the way that customers buy/interact or something that’s specific to the brand?
RL: Beauty brands are looking for ways to build long-lasting relationships with customers and to move away from discounting which ultimately devalues the brand and hits margins. As an example, I am working with Pai Skincare who offer free phone consultations, providing specialist advice with no pushy sales techniques. It’s a very personal service which has a big impact on people calling in. The feedback and product reviews from people who have had consultations is outstanding.
IR: Are there one or two tactics that you have found particularly useful in developing long-term relationships with these customers? Do you have one piece of advice for other retailers trying to get to know their customers?
RL: Keep testing ideas and learn how your customers respond over time. Invest in good analytics and track everything.
IR: Aside from your own presentation, what are you most looking forward to at IRC 2019?
RL: There is a lot to choose from, however I am particularly looking forward to hearing from Andy Lightfoot from Space NK – I am a big fan of the company.
Ros Lawler will be speaking in a panel discussion at IRC 2019. Loyalty transformation in a fast-paced disruptive market: defining, measuring and committing your customer is at 2.15pm on October 10.
IRC 2019 takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London. A full-price retailer delegate ticket costs £495, but as an InternetRetailing reader we can offer you 75% off full price tickets if you use discount code IRMSEB100 (for retailers only).
Image courtesy of InternetRetailing Events