PART of the thrill of shopping for make-up in stores is being able to test products. This helps determine whether or not an item is worthy of purchase.
Is the lipstick too red? Does the foundation make you look fresh or ashen? Is the mascara up to par, as one Instagram post claims?
For many, product-shopping is more than just nailing the right hue. Many treat shopping as a bonding or pampering session with friends and family.
With beauty advisors on the floor, customers can interact, get expert advice and learn more about the products and techniques.
However, this has completely changed since the outbreak of Covid-19. New standard operating procedures (SOP) are in place, including limiting customers in a store to maintain social distancing.
Consumers are no longer allowed to try make-up testers to prevent the possibility of the virus spreading.
While there has been no report of people getting infected with Covid-19 through make-up testers, we know that testers are breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria.
In 2017, a woman in the United States claimed she caught herpes from trying a lipstick in a well-known cosmetics store.
The issue of dirt, viruses and bacteria in make-up testers has long been established but this pandemic has made us more vigilant.
The beauty industry has to adapt to new practices and that means creating a safe environment for customers.
With the removal of make-up testers from the shopping experience, beauty brands need to think of how to court customers and maintain strong engagement despite the no-touch policy.
Testers make products relatable and they are all gone now.
Let's say a customer wishes to find a foundation shade that matches her skin. How can she do so when she is unable to use the testers?
Coty Southeast Asia managing director Jose Bianconi says the company — which is home to brands like Gucci Beauty, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs — will have beauty advisors in stores, following strict SOPs of course, to provide recommendations.
Tools such as make-up app or foundation shade finder will also be provided.
"Beauty advisors need to follow a certain protocol to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for customers," he says.
Korean beauty brand Innisfree aims to provide interactive displays and personal consultation in its retail stores.
"We want to create an experience that appeals to all the senses – something that is very important to us and to our customers," says its Malaysia marketing manager Peggy Low.
MAKING THE MOVE
Now more than ever, it's all about leveraging on visuals and technology.
Despite the challenges faced by the industry, Bianconi views this as an opportunity to improve.
"We are accelerating the development of e-commerce and digital transformation, shifting sales online, introducing new ways of connecting with consumers, for instance, live-streaming with local influencers and beauty advisors, and using AR technology to enable customers to sample our products online.
"We are confident that demand for beauty products will recover strongly. We will be innovating with our retail partners to help consumers find the right choices," says Bianconi.
Low said one of the strategies for Innisfree is to create informative digital content.
"Make-up tutorials, colour swatches and product visuals are key tools in helping our customers visualise how the product will look on their skin. It's not quite as good as an in-store experience, but it is the closest we can offer now," she says.
To drum up excitement around new products, the brand hosts Instagram Live sessions with the help of content creators and beauty experts to engage with customers and bring back some of the interaction that's missing from online shopping.
Innisfree is also looking at introducing a new O4O (online for offline) strategy where online consultation services will be provided for customers who will be able to make purchases and then opt for store pick-up or have the products delivered.
"Reach continues to be important, so we are investing in more online ads to remind potential customers we're still here and we offer products that can be purchased online," says Low.
While there has been a decrease in demand for make-up products, Low said there has been an uptick in interest for categories like personal hygiene and skincare.
"We have taken it upon ourselves to work towards meeting that demand and hope to see our peers in the industry join in the effort," she adds.
Source: New Straits Times