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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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Glick: Experience commerce is a very broad term, but it’s really about consumers buying into the narrative the brand it is offering, and utilizing digital channels and devices that support video and Flash and HTML 5 to build an experience that resonates with that target demo.

When we talk about e-commerce, it’s not necessarily also true for a company that sells direct to consumer, like some of the pharmaceutical brands, which have a two-step conversion process. Pharma companies need to convert the consumer into first connecting with whatever their medical problem is and then sending them to a doctor to get a prescription written. There are multiple steps to the transaction.

Q: How does narrative marketing, another trend in the online promotions business, relate to experience commerce?

Glick: By narrative-based marketing, we are talking about the narrative of a brand, manifesting it through visual, motion-based devices that can be executed through digital channels for distribution in the dot-com, social media and mobile arenas. There exists a functional expectation for narrative-based marketing; so that could mean taking surveys or registering for an account or actually buying a product or subscribing for a membership, like some of our magazine clients, such as Cook’s Illustrated. For Cook’s Illustrated magazine we had to redesign the whole video section of their site because their conversions—from visitor to sale—were below expectations. It was a creative assignment leveraging narrative marketing, but it was really driving towards a functional motivation to improve their subscriptions based on the video component of

Shulman Brown: Online, the experience is the brand and that experience in turn drives the narrative. If you have a great experience with a brand, chances are you’ll be loyal and in this day and age—let your friends know who’ll let their friends know, who’ll let their friends know, etc. Consumers know when a brand understands them and is perceived as even “cooler” by incorporating technology that enhances the experience.