Before I entered the beauty industry, I had the opportunity to experience the power of technology first-hand. As a founding employee of a software company that focused on apps for mobile devices, when no one even knew what those were, I evolved into one of the first female officers of a Fortune 25 technology company.
The most valuable lesson I learned from my time in high-technology was the importance of listening to the client and designing to their needs. I conducted focus groups around the world asking, “What can we do to change your life?” The responses were generally the same, “I am tired; I do not feel good about the way I look; I do not have any time for myself.” It was clear how much a person’s self-esteem was tied to what they saw in the mirror. That is when I first started thinking about the idea at the center – self-improvement – which led me to follow my passion for skin care.
Today, with more than two decades in the beauty industry under my belt, I see more than ever before, the importance of leveraging technology in skin care to meet the clients’ needs for personalization, customization, and instant (or at least, fast) results.
Embracing technology is the smartest way to serve these needs and enable your offerings to be more than skin deep. For an industry that is rooted in the ability to touch, smell, and sample, it is interesting that beauty and personal care is a rapidly growing segment of the $188 billion United States electronic commerce industry.¹ Additionally:
- Global health and wellness product sales are projected to hit $1 trillion by 2017.
- Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population uses
- the Internet.
- In 2013, 191.1 million United States citizens were online shoppers. This figure is projected to surpass 200 million in 2015.²
The demand for fast, effective, and customized beauty and wellness is there. We have the experts to deliver, but our industry often lacks the technological know-how to get the job done. I want to share and highlight some areas where technology can change your business.
A key way to play in the high-technology game is to insure your knowledge and expertise can be found when and wherever the client seeks it. Clients do not shop for services by channel. They do not wake up thinking, “I will be a retail customer today and a spa client tomorrow.” They just know that they have a need and seek education and information to find solutions.
They seamlessly use technology to traverse all the channels by searching the Internet for education, using it to locate and visit stores, book and experience treatments. Today, clients use online, retail, and professionals as entry points into one large Omni-channel. You have to be accessible when and where the client needs you. A survey of consumer product companies, conducted by the software company SAP, shows that 86 percent of respondents agree that Omni-channel has meant that customer and consumer expectations of the organization have increased. The same percentage agreed that the benefits of investing in an Omni-channel approach to consumer sales clearly outweigh the challenges.
As a result of having a multi-channel strategy, most companies say that their organization has experienced increased sales (74 percent), increased consumer loyalty or acquisition (64 percent), competitive advantage (62 percent), and better consumer experience (57 percent).
The survey data further suggest that simply operating a large number of channels is not a competitive strategy moving forward. Rather, the key focus for consumer products companies now, is to apply data gleaned from direct consumer interactions, through information inquires, online purchases, social engagement, and more, to improve the consumer experience.
The beauty of Omni-channel is that the customer is always happy and the brands involved always win. I urge you to collaborate with your partners on how to have an effective, continuous dialogue with clients. It is everyone’s role to keep a positive experience going that gets them back into your facility.
Social Media Strategies
A key part of the Omni-channel circle is social media. Apps, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media websites are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reach the greatest number of people… and that is not going away:
- Facebook has passed 1.19 billion monthly, active users.
- There are more than 645 million people on Twitter.
- As of July 2014, Android users were able to choose between 1.3 million apps. Apple's app store remained the second-largest with 1.2 million available apps.³
“People are becoming their own advertising agencies,” says Mark McKenney, social media expert. “Space out your social media to have good content at all times and for every season. Be part of the discussion on what is happening now! Make your facility or product relevant to current news stories.”
McKenney stresses that social media is not a selling medium. “Social media should be 10 percent to 15 percent of your budget. It is for public awareness, to get your brand known and to start a conversation.” Advances in social media include Facebook, Directr, and even Southwest Airlines!
Facebook Atlas is a new tool that opens up a tremendous opportunity for brands. Facebook's Audience Network already enables advertisers to find appropriate audiences demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data. Atlas gives advertisers access to Facebook's targeting precision across the entire website, wherever consumers access it. For example, your brand could leverage Facebook targeting to reach a consumer on any beauty company website, and then use Atlas to reach that same consumer on that same company’s app.
Directr is a free app that was launched in 2012 and was acquired by Google in 2014. This mobile-video app can be used by small businesses to create marketing videos. Directr provides templates or storyboards that explain how a scene might best be shot or framed. The app then pieces the shots together, adds music, and prepares the video to be shared across social media channels. The videos can serve as short infomercials for your brand, as well as educational tools for consumers (demonstrations of how to apply sunscreen properly, how to use sunless tanner, and much more).
McKenney cites Southwest Airlines as a leader in social media monitoring. He says Southwest employs a team that constantly monitors social media feeds for mentions of their brand, such as those from someone who is stuck on a runway. The employees then reply quickly with customer service help and advice. In your facility, I suggest that you have one team member dedicated to monitoring Twitter and Facebook feeds for mention of your brand name. This should be done throughout the day, Monday through Friday, and can easily be managed from their phone. This employee needs to be up-to-date on your brand’s messaging and customer service strategies.
While on the subject of strategy, McKenney suggests that you alsohave one person in charge of your social media posting, and that they follow the overall communications strategy of your brand. They should plan to dedicate one hour daily to posting and content creation, such as taking photographs and shooting videos.
Technologies that are Crossing Over
Some of the hottest technologies are the ones that are crossing over industries. Technologies that are crossing over into skin care and vice versa include medicine, science, beauty, and wellness. These are some of the interesting examples being tracked:
- Skin Growth Factor technology is being used by dentists to assist in gum growth.
- More apps are tracking fitness and nutrition, such as Fitbit, Jawbone, and MyFitnessPal.
- Wearable technology, such as jewelry from Cuff.
- 3D Beauty crossing over into traditional beauty and makeup channels. Mink is a desktop 3D printer capable of creating any color of eye shadow, lipstick, lip gloss, and nail polish.
- Beauty apps are using technology to deliver completely customized results for instant and personalized purchases. Right now, the focus is mainly on makeup and nails, which gives both the skin care and spa industries the opportunity to jump in.
- Wellness and beauty websites are increasingly offering access to experts either through live chatting, interviews, and other means of communication. By using Skype, FaceTime, and virtual coaching, experts and coaches can create relationships without actually touching the client.
Another fast growing area of digital beauty brings services to clients’ homes. Companies like Vênsette and Glamsquad cater to a clientele who use apps to book services and want convenient, professional service that often comes to their living room. Skin care and spa professionals should not shy away from looking into the logistics of incorporating similar offerings into their brand. If the business model is not a fit right now, you could also examine partnering with like-minded companies in your town that are offering in-home treatments that do not currently include skin care.
The Bottom Line on Bloggers
No discussion on technology would be complete without touching on how to best work with bloggers. There are at least 152 million blogs, which means you cannot ignore the bloggers’ power in helping to make or break your brand.
Rachel Hayes, content consultant, beauty blogger, and founder of Pretty Impressed, says “bloggers are very in-the-minute and want to post during events and launches. Do not introduce a new product or service to them until you are okay with posts and photos coming out.”
Hayes further suggests that when a post comes through, you show social support by sharing it on your social media channels. She also recommends thanking the blogger with Tweets and posts, “If they feel you have a great relationship, they will continue to engage.”
She suggests beefing up that engagement by offering giveaways to readers of your favorite blogs, “Narrow down your list to 10 to 20 blogs. Look at their social following, make sure the blog is relevant to your consumer, and engage socially.”
¹ A.T. Kearney
² Euromonitor, InternetLiveStats.com, Statista.com
³ Facebook, Twitter, Statista.com
With two decades in the beauty and skin care industries, Celeste Hilling is the founder, CEO and product formulator for Skin Authority. Hilling is a respected speaker and media resource on skin care, healthy lifestyles, self-esteem, and business. Skin Authority is respected for developing pure and powerful products without the use of parabens, added fragrance, dyes or animal testing. www.skinauthority.com, Facebook at Skin Authority, Twitter @SkinAuthority and @MissSkin