Customized beauty has become a bonafide category in beauty, but the ability to create unique formulas for thousands of individuals has always been a pain point.
If data is considered the ultimate commodity, then being able to tap into it and refine it into something that is usable, like a product, becomes essential. Customers have demonstrated a willingness to offer personal data if they feel they are receiving something valuable in return, especially in the case of brand quizzes. Prose’s post-purchase survey, called Review and Refine, has helped it increase customer satisfaction and broaden its product portfolio. It’s also allowed Prose to scale its customization capacity in tandem with customer growth. Review and Refine, which launched in March 2019, improves a customer’s subsequent order based on their feedback and therein gives shoppers an incentive to provide feedback.
“The traditional retail experience [for providing customer feedback] is frustrating,” said Paul Michaux, Prose co-founder and vp of product. “There is no reward for the customer [when a company] processes their feedback and uses it.”
Prose has received over 100,000 responses through Review and Refine since its debut, with 70% of its repeat customers providing feedback. After three weeks of receiving an order, a customer is sent an email introducing Review and Refine and requesting feedback, through up to 22 survey questions. Questions include ranking (out of five stars) someone’s scalp sensitivity, oiliness and flakiness with using Prose, and how products feel on one’s hair and scalp. There are also open-ended questions. Arnaud Plas, Prose co-founder and CEO declined to state how many current customers Prose has, but since its launch in Jan. 2018, the company has provided over two million online quiz consultations for customers’ first orders and now sees 700,000 website visits per month.
Prose previously told Glossy in 2019 that the brand’s sales were growing by a double-digit percentage month-over-month and that it was “close” to reaching $1.5 million monthly revenue. Plas said that as of April, more than 50% of customers have opted for a subscription (granting them a 15% discount for ordering the full line) and that the company doubled its revenue over the last four months.
Competitor Function of Beauty has its own unique customer feedback loop, aided in part through surveys and social media. Makeup and hair on-demand service Priv previously told Glossy that its goal was to foster one-on-one relationships with customers because that trust led to more feedback.
For Prose, Review and Refine has led to improvements in customer satisfaction. Prose’s net promoter score, a tool that measures customer satisfaction and relationships on a range of -100 to 100, was approximately 27 when the brand launched, slightly below the market average of 30 for beauty, said Plas. (Other industries like hotels have a market average of 22, while luxury automobiles rank at 31, according to a 2019 NPS report from Forrester.) Since the introduction of Review and Refine, the NPS increased by 40 points to approximately 70. NPS scores in 2020 for E.l.f. and L’Oréal Group are -8 and 16, respectively, according to Customer Guru that tracks NPS scores.
The Review and Refine algorithm, which determines improvements to a customer’s product formula, is updated every month — Plas compares the process to a smartphone operating system. In the past, these updates have included additional or adjusted questions, and new possible ingredient combinations.
“This is how we are bringing the network effect to consumer products,” said Plas. “The more customers we have, the more feedback we get, and then we can continue to improve customer satisfaction.”
Review and Refine has also helped the brand develop new products over the past 14 months, such as a curl cream launched in January. That is because customers were continuously asking for more curl definition out of their conditioners, which prompted the need for a more specific item that does not need to be rinsed out.