Beauty In The iPhone Of The Beholder – Why Virtual Beauty Consultations Are Here To Stay
It’s fair to say that the Covid pandemic has proven to be a period of adjustment, not only for consumers, but for brands too. With many businesses still forced to close their doors for the foreseeable future, businesses that rely on face-to-face contact with clients (everything from facialists, makeup artists, hairdressers, waxers, nail bars and perfume counters) have had to shift the way in which they interact with consumers. For many, this means connecting with them in ways they never have before.
As beauty’s major players continue to show great resilience to the current climate, we are continuing to see intelligent new innovations, one of which is that of online beauty consultations.
With consumers no longer able to pop out to a clinic or salon for a beauty appointment, nor able to visit the beauty counter for the likes of a foundation colour match or to try out a new shade of lipstick, the £427 billion global beauty industry (Statista, 2020) has had to think on its toes and innovate. A handful of brands are now bringing their experts directly to their consumer’s homes to chat product and regimen recommendations via the phones and computers we find ourselves glued to more than ever (who knew that was possible).
Online beauty consultations are enabling consumers to meet with beauty specialists over online platforms such as Zoom to address their beauty concerns. For some, this may be just a quick 10-minute chat; a product they would like to incorporate into their skincare routine, or need a product recommendation for the dreaded ‘maskne’, in which case many beauty brands are offering these to the consumer free of charge. For those requiring a lengthier consultation, more detailed and tailored to their beauty needs, most major beauty brands are now offering paid consultations, offering wedding makeup masterclasses, virtual makeup try on tools, and even online eyebrow appointments. The prices are even occasionally reduced if you bring a friend.
Trinny London are just one of the many beauty brands offering their customers beauty expertise in the comfort of their own homes
Having only launched the brand in October 2019, Trinny London was quick to respond to the lack of retail. Trinny London adapted to an online free consultation instead of in-person appointments so potential customers could talk to an expert before purchasing. After a month of trialling this service for free, they started charging £25 per consultation to be redeemed against the product.
A Free Service That Pays Off
For many beauty brands, virtual consultations are working wonders, with cosmetic beauty giant, Bobbi Brown, being just one success story amongst many having entered the online consultation crowd. The brands ‘Artistry Like Never Before program’, launched in May 2020, and was initially set up as a pilot program for the brands top-tier loyalty customers. Following it’s early success, the program then became publicly available toall shoppers, with 46% of consumers converting to Bobbi Brown products from the consultation within three hours, and 51% of customers who converted during the pilot then coming back to repurchase. Bobbi Brown also saw a 15% rise in new customers during the pilot program, with many existing customers sharing consultation emails with non-customers.
The possibilities around scaling such programs are huge. With such consultations enabling brands to create genuine connections with their consumer base, the authenticity of the engagement is a highly effective means of not only expanding the customer base, but also enabling existing customers to feel valued and understood by the brand.
Longevity For Virtual Consultations Post-Pandemic
Without a doubt. The greatest advantage to online consultations is the lack of risk of spreading Covid-19. At a time where we are all told to stay at home and limit human interaction, an online consultation seems like a no-brainer. Online consultations also give an element of accessibility to consumers who may still find the idea of going in-store too overwhelming.
For those living in more rural locations, online beauty consultations may come as a delight. Considering the time and cost of traveling to a major city such as London on top of the expense of many beauty related consultations, it makes sense that virtual consultations are more affordable for many consumers.
Now with access to a multitude of beauty expertise at the click of a button, and many consumers at home with greater amounts of time to indulge in self-care, virtual beauty consultations are all the more appealing for the consumer. This is of further benefit to the brands themselves, who now have the opportunity to target new consumers.
Virtual consultations are likely to hold their value post-lockdown. We will likely see many of the major beauty giants continuing with elements of online consultation, as well as those smaller companies who will continue to benefit from the freeing of time and reduced organisation required.