After launching on QVC’s website and mobile app in April 2020, Estée Lauder is taking the livestream plunge on the shopping channel. On March 16, the 75-year-old brand will make its first-ever appearance. Maggie Turner, executive director of education, special events and artistry for Estée Lauder and Aerin Beauty U.S. will be EL’s on-air spokesperson.
Claudia Benshimol, svp and gm at Estée Lauder and Aerin Beauty North America, said the brand’s broader QVC launch is about meeting customers where they are, as the retail landscape has shifted in the last year. “QVC offers an opportunity of high-touch service in our brand storytelling across a myriad of consumer touch points,” she said. “It gives us a new platform to bring the Estée Lauder story to mind in a much more modern way through in-depth tutorials and live engagement.”
Estée Lauder’s expanded QVC strategy follows that of sister brand MAC Cosmetics, which launched on-air in fall 2020. QVC was a bit of a surprising move for MAC since the former is known for its older customer of women 45 years old and above. But MAC remains a global beauty juggernaut and needs to pull many levers to maintain relevance and market share. In tandem with its QVC launch, MAC launched with Boots and Asos in 2020, released an Underground drop program, debuted AR try-on tools and launched regional influencer squads. Estée Lauder, too, is a massive brand. In Esteé Lauder Companies’ fiscal 2021 second-quarter earnings, announced in February, Estée Lauder was called out as one of the brands that saw double-digit sales growth, alongside La Mer.
“We currently have a robust assortment of Estée Lauder Company brands across QVC and HSN. We launched MAC back in June across our digital and mobile platforms, and the brand debuted on our broadcast and streaming channels in September. MAC’s launch across all platforms was extremely successful, with five sell-out items. We brought the brand to life with rich storytelling and an array of content. We will be looking to replicate this approach with Estée Lauder,” said Mary Campbell, CMO and chief commerce officer at QVC parent company Qurate Retail Group.
Benshimol underscored that Estée Lauder’s customer demographic remains diverse. “She can be 25. She can be 45. She can be buying her first house or buying her first beauty product. It’s less about checking an age-appropriate box and more about buying beauty that makes her feel good,” she said. The Estée Lauder assortment on QVC will span skin care, fragrance and color cosmetics, with a focus on complexion, given the ongoing woes of the makeup category. According to NPD Group, prestige makeup sales were down 34% in 2020.
QVC has made great inroads to lure younger customers with the launches of emerging, founder-led brands like Alpyn Beauty, Bloomeffects and Mented via its The Big Find program, as well as through its multi-prong video strategy through Facebook and Instagram. Moreover, the QVC shopper remains sticky. “We over-index with customers in their 30s to 70s, and our customers are highly loyal and purchase frequently. This engagement is remarkably stable over time and across markets. For 2020, approximately 92% of QVC and HSN’s sales in the U.S. were from repeat and reactivated customers,” said Campbell. “We see our millennial customers engaging with us through mobile and social.”
She added, “In the fourth quarter of 2020, QVC and HSN in the U.S. gained share in beauty in a down market. In the beauty category, we are tapping into growing segments including QVC and HSN clean beauty brands, multicultural beauty and salon beauty.”
Shoppable livestreams have become increasingly important for U.S.-based beauty brands in the pandemic. Instagram and TikTok are moving in on QVC’s territory, with the latter launching a specific TikTok beauty livestreaming opportunity for Walmart last week. Meanwhile, Beautycounter and Ulta Beauty are creating their own proprietary experiences with partners.
For its part, Estée Lauder, has seen growth in China via marrying influencer content with social media and livestreaming. According to Glossy-exclusive Launchmetrics data, which tracks where influencer content comes from, the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, represented 48% of Estée Lauder’s influencer voice in February. In fact, nine out of the 10 top posts for the brand were on Douyin, with one of their top-rated posts from the Chinese KOL, Austin Li, generating $343K from a single post. Estée Lauder has focused on growth in China for at least the past four years, according to Glossy reporting.
But Campbell emphasized its first mover’s advantage here in the states. “We have a unique vantage point to observe the current livestream shopping craze. Our HSN team invented live video shopping on TV about 40 years ago, and today, our QVC and HSN brands form one of the world’s largest video commerce platforms, reaching millions of homes and devices across broadcast, streaming, social, mobile, and web platforms,” she said. “We’ve been expanding our livestream video commerce experiences onto new platforms for many years, and we’re excited to see so many companies embrace and elevate this powerful form of retailing.”