Beauty is about aspiration. With customer journeys so disrupted, brands need to do more than just find new ways to connect with consumers and drive customer engagement. They need to find inventive new ways to help consumers fulfill their aspirations.
In our three-part series spotlighting Gen Z, “Beauty Under Quarantine”, we’re examining how women’s customer journeys have been upended by the pandemic and how brands need to complement analytics with a “stay human” storytelling approach to stay connected with women and successfully navigate the dramatic changes.
In Part 1, we examined how core beauty motivations are changing due to the pandemic and how psychographics can help brands stay in sync with women, understanding what they want from beauty during this unprecedented time.
In Part 2, we explore how brands can use psychographics to help them re-capture some of the magic that’s been lost along consumers’ beauty journeys during lockdown – and potentially even deepen their relationship with consumers.
To gain insight into how customer journeys are changing during the pandemic, we complemented the many hours of conversation we’ve had with women about beauty in recent years with online beauty-centered labs in April with Gen Z women.
Where Has All The Magic Gone?
Beauty is an immersive experience. Consumers love to surround themselves with beauty in so many ways – walking into an Instagram-ready pop-up store, trying and testing products at the cosmetics bar, sharing makeovers before heading out into the night with friends.
It’s no wonder, then, that consumers’ beauty journeys have been so disrupted as wide swaths of the country – beauty stores included – have shut down and people have been sequestering inside. Some of the most captivating steps along consumers’ beauty journeys, from brand awareness through to customer conversion and brand advocacy, have either disappeared or lost much of their allure:
Influencers Are Starved For Content – Gen Z women have been spending a lot more time on Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms in these past weeks. Business Insider reports that influencer marketers are seeing a notable uptick in engagement on sponsored and unpaid social media posts alike.* Ironically, though, when people most want to engage, influencers have less to talk about. Stuck at home instead of attending video-worthy events, influencers have to work harder to create compelling content – plus strike just the right tone, especially when promoting products against the backdrop of a global crisis.
Events Are Being Scrapped – The calendar of live beauty events and festivals is being re-written. For example, Sephoria, Sephora’s beauty festival, has been cancelled for 2020 while BeautyCon has been postponed until December.
Offline Shopping Is Off-Limits – In perhaps the biggest change, most in-person beauty shopping is no longer an option. Gen Z prefer to see, touch and feel products before they commit to purchase – especially from brands they’ve never tried before. In a Fall 2019 Piper Jaffray survey of Gen Z, 91% of female teens preferred shopping for beauty in-store vs. online.** As one Gen Z woman noted, “I need to see the product and try it. I will not buy online.” Describing her beauty shopping during the pandemic, she said, “Unless I run out of something I use every day, I won’t be buying anything.”
With so much changed in the journey across all channels, brands big and small, mass and prestige, digital native and not will all need to re-invent how they engage with consumers – and that means more than just posting clever ads on Instagram.
Pyschographic Mindsets Shape The Journey
So what is the way forward? What can brands do to build engagement with consumers along the journey when so much of beauty’s magic is on pause?
Customer journey analytics will provide a critical part of the answer. Brands that can integrate customer data across channels and touchpoints will be able to discern, through millions of historical and real-time data points, how consumers’ behavior and cross-channel brand interactions are evolving – and therefore how brands might respond.
Equally critical to filling the gaps in the journey will be understanding the human stories and psychographics driving those millions of data points – because customer journeys are not just a series of functional transactions along a path to purchase. There’s an emotional thread that weaves through each consumer’s journey. In beauty, as in other image-driven categories, customer journeys are a path to pursuing and fulfilling aspirations.
A consumer’s psychographic mindset and core beauty motivations not only impact what they want from beauty, but also the type of journey they want to take. Different psychographic mindsets look to fulfill different engagement needs along their journeys. As consumers pursue their beauty aspirations, seeking out information and ideas to help them along the way, they’re intuitively trying to satisfy one or more of the following needs:
The journey needs above reflect the various ways consumers want to interact with brands. Importantly, each psychographic mindset prioritizes these needs differently – and that shapes each person’s journey.
Influencing, Not Creating
Brands don’t create customer journeys. In their quest to learn, discover, express and connect, consumers create them. Brands, however, can positively influence journeys by bringing inventiveness and originality to the way they satisfy journey needs and interact with consumers – and certainly some positive influence is needed now as the curve flattens and the pandemic stretches into the months ahead.
Each psychographic mindset brings unique engagement needs to their journey. Understanding these unique needs will put brands in a better position to connect with their consumers and infuse some of the magic and aspiration that’s been lost during the pandemic back into the beauty journey.
Self-Expressives, for example, who are more daring and experimental, use beauty as a way to project their individuality and originality. Leaning to Expression and Advice journey need states, Self-Expressives are constantly scanning for ideas from multiple sources. They’re looking to both be inspired and demonstrate their creativity throughout their customer journeys.
“I go to Instagram and Twitter for inspiration. If I see a cool look on Instagram, I’ll go to YouTube for the video to see how you do it.”
“I use TikTok a lot. I’ve noticed that it’s not tutorials, but a lot of DIY, tricks and tips. It’s short-form media, so it’s a great way to get lots of ideas.”
“I hardly ever buy online. I need to see the product in person to know how I’ll use it. I need to touch the product, try it on, test it out.”
With the in-store experience on hold during the pandemic, brands need to engage Self-Expressives with virtual “hands-on” approaches, doing what they can to create an immersive, idea-rich experience. ColourPop, for example, is posting “swatch party” videos with presenters who cover their forearms with swatch after colorful swatch while describing products in full see-it, feel-it sensorial detail.
Achievers are more practically minded and intent on improving their skills at creating a natural, but polished look. Education is the need state that most drives their customer journeys, with no-nonsense information and recommendation from influencers and brands informing their product choices.
“I haven’t done anything new in quarantine, but I might want to learn how to do something like a winged eyeliner. I would then have the confidence to do that when things get back to normal.”
“I like Nikkie Tutorials because she’s drama-free – instead of someone like James Charles who’s apologizing while he’s doing his makeup.”
“If I want some objective information, I have to look it up on the internet because obviously influencers are promoting themselves. It’s harder for me to know on influencers’ pages how objective it is.”
In the pre-pandemic world, Achievers liked to learn from in-store beauty consultants and rely on their recommendations when purchasing products. Influencers and brands need to step in now with even more content that teaches and guides in an approachable and accessible way.
Nikkie Tutorials speaks to this practical need with her “Affordable Flawless Makeup Transformation” video, posted on March 30th, 2020. A tutorial for the times, Nikkie steps in as a virtual beauty advisor, stating, “If there ever was a time for you to experiment at home with your look, with your hair, with your makeup, with your outfit, to kind of see yourself in a different light, I think the time is now.”
With consumers more willing to engage on social media, Gen Z favorite Tarte Cosmetics is stepping up their day-in, day-out tutorials and how-to’s with #tartetalk LIVE, livestreaming tutorials that consumers can watch in real time.
Extroverted and social, Magnetics love to connect and see beauty as a way to amplify their easy-going allure. They seek Connection, Entertainment and Discovery through their customer journeys, relying on sharing with friends, relatable, yet aspirational, influencers and in-store curation to help them discover up-and-coming brands.
“Ashley (@bestdressed on YouTube) is one of my favorite influencers. She’s just so honest about everything. When you watch her videos, she just feels like a good friend.”
“I wouldn’t purchase something based on Instagram ads – unless an influencer or my friends are using it. I trust suggestions from my friends who watch a lot of beauty bloggers and wear makeup a lot.”
“I like shopping at Sephora. When I go to Sephora, I love finding brands I’ve never heard of, and because it’s Sephora, I know they’re reputable and trusted. If I just see something on Instagram, it doesn’t have that Sephora stamp of approval.”
Magnetics love the element of discovery that comes with shopping for beauty. Influencers, retailers and brands will need to re-create the excitement of being in-the-know as a way to engage them. A master of the immersive experience, Sephora is flooding its social media accounts with demos, tips & tricks, videos and livestreaming across a wide range of brands, creating an online experience reflective of the discovery that takes place in their stores.
To help their consumers connect with both the brand and their friends, Benefit is tagging content with #AtHomeWithBenefit — including downloadable Zoom backgrounds, video calls with Benefit employees talking about their stay-at-home experiences and fun quarantine-related Instagram Story templates to repost and share with friends.
The Brand’s Ultimate Role In The Journey
Analytics and data will be essential to uncovering how customer journeys are evolving in response to life-as-we-know-it shutting down, and then slowly starting up again. Analysis will reveal where the path to purchase is changing – and logistically how brands need to adjust in the post-pandemic landscape.
What data will not reveal, though, is what consumers need from their beauty journeys during this uncertain time and therefore what role brands can positively play in fulfilling those needs. Understanding how to drive engagement with consumers can only come from analyzing journeys through a “stay human” psychographic lens.
The brands that do the work during the pandemic to go deeper on psychographics and understand how each psychographic mindset prioritizes journey needs – expression, advice or connection, for example – will be able to weave a stronger emotional thread through the journey. That emotional thread, in turn, will help brands not only preserve their bond with consumers during the pandemic, but potentially to make it even stronger.
* “How the coronavirus is changing the influencer business, according to marketers and top Instagram and YouTube Stars”, Business Insider, Amanda Perelli and Dan Wateley, April 30, 2020.
** “Taking Stock With Teens Survey”, Fall 2019, Piper Jaffray Investment Research.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of our three-part “Beauty Under Quarantine” series where we explore key tactics for building brand loyalty within beauty.