Clean beauty brand Lilah B. made a pleasant discovery in the midst of Covid-19, despite the headwinds that the brand — and the beauty industry as a whole — encountered. With stores largely closed between March 2020 and June 2020, Lilah B. found that Gen-X customers were rapidly gravitating toward its DTC e-commerce site. Now, Lilah B. intends to keep them there.
The 6-year-old brand has taken a prestige and minimalist approach to its branding. It was embraced by some Gen Xers when it first launched, due to its in-store retail positioning at Barneys New York. Lilah B. now sells through Net-a-Porter, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, among other retailers. With the addition of retail partners like Sephora and Anthropologie since 2019, Lilah B. found that most of its online customers skewed younger, which influenced its social presence, online advertising and influencer marketing.
Lilah B. experienced triple-digit growth in Gen X shoppers on its website over the last 18 months. Gen Xers are people born between 1965 and 1980, according to PEW Research. Older shoppers, in general, contributed to the lift in e-commerce across industries seen in mid-2020, as people had to acquire items online by necessity. According to a United Nations report from March 2021, U.S. e-commerce’s share of total retail sales rose from 11.8% to 16.1% between the first and second quarters of 2020. At the end of 2019, Lilah B.’s sales were 85% wholesale retail. By the end of 2022, Lilah B. expects sales to be approximately 50% DTC e-commerce and 50% wholesale retail, according to Cheryl Yannotti Foland, founder and CEO of Lilah B.
“It will take [multiple] investments to get there, but we’re building a unique audience, and we see the return,” she said.
Between 2020 and the first half of 2021, Gen X customers have been loyal to Lilah B.’s e-commerce experience. Gen-X customers come to the website up to five times before converting. Gen Xers on average purchase four products at a time, and those customers shop multiple times per year. Compared to this behavior, the brand’s millennial and younger customers shop from the DTC website 1-2 times a year but gravitate toward Sephora more often.
As a result, to target Gen Xers, Lilah B. has invested 200% more in paid media in 2021, compared to 2020. Gen Xers are predominately active on Facebook, compared to other social platforms, and often enter the site through marketing emails, said Hillary O’Connell, head of digital and e-commerce at Lilah B.. Gen X makes up more than 50% of email traffic and revenue. Lilah B. plans to conduct an at-home mailer campaign in 2022 tailored around new product launches, the anniversary of when someone made their first Lilah B. purchase and a customer’s birthday.
“This consumer craves personalized content based on their shopping behavior from past purchases. But they are also invested in [learning about] ingredients and formulations and the nitty-gritty details of our products,” said O’Connell. “[Gen Xers] also resonate with Cheryl as a Gen-X founder. That not only includes tutorial content with Cheryl but also lifestyle content, [as they find] her inspiring.”
“I always took a backseat [publicly] in my career… I’m not an influencer, and I’m not a celebrity. But I am a real woman in my early 50s,” said Yannotti Foland. “The team has pushed me to share my world. We all want to sell products — this is a business, after all — but I also want to connect with this community long-term and for there to be longevity and vitality to the brand.”
Within its e-commerce website, Lilah B. is also beefing up its review and loyalty programs and offering more gift-with-purchase opportunities and sampling. Sampling options have expanded from color offerings to deluxe skin-care prep products, like the new Aglow Golden Priming Oil. Lilah B. created mini sizes that are also part of several product sets, which is part of a larger strategy to get the product into customers’ hands and convert them to full-size products. The Aglow Golden Priming Oil digital campaign also features Gen-X models.
“The Gen-X clean beauty consumer today feels underserved. The campaign of Aglow Golden has pushed forward our strategy to build the community and Gen-X customer base,” said Yannotti Foland.