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The Changing Way Consumers Shop Online for Cosmetics

By: Ross Glick and Judy Shulman Brown
Posted: January 20, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Shulman Brown: True experience commerce is a 365-degree experience—people are now being exposed to brands via many different touch points. Experience commerce is just an extension of marrying content and commerce which sounds easy, but can be quite difficult to balance for a variety of reasons. Beauty companies are trying to create a personal relationship with consumers by making their experience as good as, or in some cases better, than it would be at a store—and that positive, clever experience creates loyalty. Virtual makeup applications make it possible for consumers to see an unlimited number of shades and combinations in seconds on digital photos of themselves or a model and that could not be replicated in store. Videos (content) enable people to enjoy watching and learning from renown makeup artists and celebrities in the intimacy of their own space; insider tips and tricks along with backstage access are now theirs to enjoy and, along the way, they might decide to buy what they see being used, research the product by reading reviews or go to a store to explore.

Or it’s a Saturday night and you decide you want that smoky eye, well a trip to the counter isn’t an option, and then it’s all about going digital for the how-to and as quickly and efficiently as possible. This doesn’t mean that the experience has to be in a minute but it has to be right, meaning being considerate of the customer and not wasting her time with bad content; thus a negative brand experience.

Q: What is your opinion of experience commerce and beauty brands today?

Glick: Today brands are saying, “Look, yes, obviously we want to sell lots of product. We also recognize, we don’t want to just sell to consumers. We want to connect to them and consequently extend the selling cycle on the first or second buy.” The more educated marketing executive at beauty companies recognize that by investing in a richer, more meaningful online strategy from the beginning, they are more likely to keep their relationship with consumers fresh and real —so much so that they’re much more likely to stay connected with the brand, and equally, they’re more likely to share the experience and content with a friend.

Q: Is experience commerce different for beauty brands as opposed to other industries or markets?