It’s no secret that beauty brands are pros at personalization. From skincare to makeup, and everything in between, these products help you put your best face forward, so taking a personalized marketing approach is a natural and intuitive fit.
According to Sailthru’s Retail Personalization Index, beauty companies have dominated the highest echelons of the rankings for the second year in a row. Cosmetics giant Sephora is the top-ranked brand with a score of 91 out of 100, while The Body Shop comes in second at 84.
In many industries the experience of early adopters can be instructive for everyone else. Here’s how the beauty industry is leading the way for all retailers, regardless of product or size.
The beauty industry is outflanking Amazon
Last year, our index showed that the top-ranked companies combined two things: what made them unique and what made their customers unique. This year, there’s a third factor: where Amazon is lacking. The leaders are actively using personalization to create a customer experience far more specific to beauty than anything offered by Amazon.
The Body Shop, for example, pairs top-quality content with a first-class recommendation engine while Sephora has a virtual reality application that is designed to take in the specifics of a person’s face to show how the brand’s products will look once applied. Amazon is also experimenting with virtual reality, for both fashion and home furnishings, but using that technology to show how makeup will look on your face is a lot different than showing what an Instant Pot will look like sitting on your kitchen counter.
The beauty industry aggressively leverages its expertise
Even customers who are obsessed with skincare and cosmetics are constantly learning more about it. There are always new brands, new products and new ingredients. So for beauty retailers, personalization goes far beyond pushing products — it’s about education too. Yes, that means providing general information about new products but also includes guidance about how to use them and which ones work best for each particular person. The Body Shop’s personalized emails organize products by color, streamlining bestsellers and curated products. Sephora has a strong community section of its website, featuring message boards, makeup artists and other experts.
This is not Amazon’s strength. Amazon is not positioning itself as an expert in beauty and doesn’t have the credibility to do so. For more specialized retailers — and almost everyone is more specialized than Amazon — there’s a real opportunity to establish leadership by combining commerce, content and expertise.
Beauty industry loyalty programs are omnichannel
Personalization and loyalty need to go hand-in-hand. Sephora knows that customers who come into stores will buy more than those who shop online, so they use their digital marketing and loyalty program to encourage customers to visit their stores. Some of Sephora’s in-store events are tied to loyalty tiers, and the brand is developing an expanding catalogue of experiential perks for the highest levels of its loyalty program.
In one recent promotion from Sephora, loyalty members were offered a discount code that could only be used once online, but had unlimited use in-store. Every Sephora email notes the customer’s point balance, which is carried through in-store. At each retail location, associates ask customers at every transaction if they would like to redeem points or continue to save them. The Body Shop also uses store associates — along with customer relationship management software — to bridge the online and in-store experience.
Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated, providing huge potential payoffs in customer loyalty, revenues and sustained profitability. For those who may still be developing their own strategies, the beauty industry is leading the way.