To build a better direct connection with customers, luxury makeup brush brand Artis is using a three-prong approach: It’s rolling out a new pop-up experience, called the Artis Apartment, relaunching its website to drive interest around both product and education, and introducing two subscription services to encourage customer loyalty.
By the end of 2018, Artis will be in more than 600 retail doors, including Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Space NK, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and HSN, but as of late August, Artis began rolling out its plans for retaining and attracting consumers via its own channels.
“When we launched in 2014, it was about just getting the product into customers’ hands. Now we want to nurture and foster those relationships on a permanent basis,” said Artis gm Leigh Adelman.
At the beginning of September, Artis unveiled its ongoing Washington Square pop-up salon, where customers are invited in for general brush training, makeup applications and personal shopping appointments. Appointments run between 30 and 45 minutes. This is Artis’ first foray into the pop-up and live-event space.
To spread the news to customers, Artis shared the details of the opening to its over 500,000-person database. To personalize the invitation, Artis prioritized its top-tier customers. Six thousand VIP customers — those that were already high-spending purchasers or active on social — in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area received early access via email from the Artis customer service team. Additionally, 650 loyal, “friends of the house” clients with personal relationships with the brand received text messages or Instagram direct messages inviting them to attend directly.
“We’re using the Artis Apartment visits as an avenue to personally connect with our online customers and fan base — taking these relationships beyond the digital space and allowing our customers real access to our brand,” explained Adelman. “It’s important to have those two-way conversations constantly.” She added that the Apartment services will be played out at customers’ homes for special occasions in the coming months.
In the four years since the brand’s launch, Artis has already sold more than 1 million brushes, according to the brand. However, Adelman said, it plans to double that number by the end of year. Considering that Artis brushes are not inexpensive — its smallest brush, the Elite Mirror 1 Circle for blending eyeshadow, lip color and concealer, is priced at $36, while its Elite Mirror Ten Brush Set that launched in April is $360 — engaging customers’ needs directly allows it both a revenue and retention opportunity. The brand would not comment on sales figures, but industry sources remarked that in 2017, Artis exceeded sales of $30 million.
To capitalize on that connection, Artis invested in updating its website, which relaunches on Wednesday. On average, Artis’ e-commerce channel accounts for about 40 percent of the total business; Adelman is expecting that number to jump to around 50 percent to make it more even with third-party and wholesale channels.
“The direct-to-consumer connection is one that our business has really prioritized,” she said. The brand is switching from a Squarespace platform to a Shopify experience to fully understand where customers are spending more of their time on the site. Shopify analytics not only monitor marketing and behavior patterns around product acquisition, but they also include custom reports on first-time and ongoing customers.
Whereas Artis’ previous site focused on trainings that strictly showed consumers how to use the brushes, Artis.com 2.0 focuses on usage and aspirational content, said Adelman. “It was a little confusing before to just look at a brush and figure out how to use it or why or how it would fit in my hand,” she added.
Face tutorials and videos are front center on the new site: Around 30 videos were planned for launch. Two videos are dedicated per brush for the complete Elite Collection, which consists of 14 brushes to start. Weekly and monthly content will roll out on an ongoing basis depending on customer reactions. Some of these videos, like more technical video content, will be cross-promoted on YouTube and social.
Some new site features came out of necessity, like a scheduling tool versus a direct number and email to facilitate Apartment appointments, and a social linking functionality. “We’re looking forward to hosting a better experience for our customers that will result in a lower bounce rate and increased engagement,” said Adelman.
However, sales are the ultimate driver to facilitate increased business on the site. As such, Artis will be launching the first of two subscription services starting Oct. 1. The Elite Collection subscription will allow customers to slowly build their 14 brush assortment. It will be monthly and retail for $40 per month. A secondary service, a cleaning-based subscription of Cleansing Foam, Cleansing Pad and Brush Wipes, will be tiered for monthly and quarterly replenishments, and will roll out later in the fall — the included items continue to be the brand’s bestsellers.
Steady monthly or quarterly purchases means recurring revenue and growth for Artis. About 20-25 percent of current Artis consumers were already coming back for repeat purchases, Adelman explained.
“When we saw that people were buying a brush pad or a cleansing pad or a brush up to five times a year, we couldn’t ignore it,” she said. “Yes, launching subscriptions was a business decision, but it was also a way to engage our customers more.”