The Future of Beauty in The Era of Coronavirus

With new challenges brought by COVID-19 have come new opportunities for retailers to rethink their selling strategies.

How the beauty industry is dealing with the pandemic and, most importantly, how will in-store experiences change with the new social distance enforcement and safety measures are questions that need answers. From global firms to high-street brands, the beauty world has reacted differently throughout the various phases of the outbreak. 

French luxury conglomerate LVMH was one of the first companies that joined the cause by manufacturing – and delivering free of charge – hydroalcoholic gel to French health authorities. The same initiative was taken by The Estée Lauder Companies, which reopened their Melville manufacturing facility to produce hand sanitizer for high-need groups and front-line medical staff. 

MAC Cosmetics took action through their Viva Glam campaign, giving 100% of the proceeds of the signature lipstick to 250 local organisations supporting COVID-19 relief efforts across the world. Coty has also utilised its production facilities to make a hydroalcoholic gel for medical and emergency services. 

Although there is a necessity for brands to help prevent the spread of the virus, it is still uncertain how their presence in department stores will impact sales now that makeovers and testers are no-gos. 

According to WWD, retailers are looking at possible innovations like low-touch dispensers and single-use testing palettes made from sustainable materials to facilitate in-store experiences.

That is the case for Sephora's retail stores in China, which have recently opened their doors and are implementing customer temperature checks and mask requirements upon entry. In addition, shop floors are being sanitised every two hours and employees equipped with wrapped, disposable tools to use individually. 

Similar norms are being adopted by Douglas Group, which reopened its stores in Italy on May 4th. All employees are subjected to temperature checks as well as issued to wear a protective mask and gloves throughout the entire work shift. The same rules apply to customers, who are only allowed to enter the store in a limited number and requested to respect social distance when seeking assistance. As makeup application is not permitted, employees will use a face chart to guide customers in product choices, offering tutorials and colour testing by booking online appointments beforehand. 

‘No Touch’ consultation is also being adopted by Macy’s Beauty, which reopened 68 US stores on May 4th. Staff will follow enhanced hygiene and cleaning procedures, including having testers available for customer viewing only. Longer-term solutions could also include re-working store layouts as well as implementing protective shields and antimicrobial displays.

As the organisation of department stores is still being finalised, brands are trying to temper the economic damages and drive sales through online marketing campaigns, consciously keeping their community in mind.

Brands like Highline Wellness have been releasing new topical products like CBD Immunity Gummies to help relieve stress and anxiety. Next in line is Glossier, which launched a new hand cream donating the first 10,000 units to healthcare professionals.
 In a press release, the brand stated: "We wanted to make something that inspired — something displayed on your desk and shared with coworkers, carried in your bag and doled out to friends, or that strikes up a conversation with a stranger on the train."

Some retailers are also using influencers and reputable make-up artists to advertise their products through live stream tutorials, sharing tips on their daily beauty routine. As a matter of fact, according to a research campaign conducted by Mintel Group Ltd, 40% of consumers who browse for beauty online look for beauty tips and 30% look for beauty tutorials. Consultation is not only restrained to makeup though, as brands like DECIEM, Kiehl’s and Bobbi Brown are reinforcing trust in their products providing in-depth product education to their customers.

In conclusion, the way brands are responding to the outbreak is defining their future success. By connecting with their guests on a more human level, they encourage trustworthiness. In a moment in life where the whole world is fighting for the same cause and each and every person is struggling with the same issues, there is a need to feel united. Hence, it is more likely that brands who think beyond basic advertising and put customers first will profit down the road.

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