As consumer attitudes towards buying beauty products begins to normalize, brands are forging onwards. Subsequently, CEW Beauty News reached out to beauty brands to discuss the how, the why and the challenges behind launching product during a pandemic. Here, our third story in this series, featuring Jane Moran, Brand Vice President of the Brooklyn-based hair care brand, Eva NYC. Jane discusses how the brand has evolved their selling strategies for new launches; online sales trends; supply chain disruptions; retail partnerships; budgets; and changes in customer engagement since COVID-19 started.

On Shifting Selling Strategies for New Launches…

“Previously, many of our new customers were able to discover us on shelf through our retail partners. Bright packaging and shelf placements made for a very eye-catching display, which we know our customers love. Now that the consumer is unable to touch or smell our products, we are finding new ways to engage her outside of her usual shopping behavior, and are required to capture her attention through content that’s just as striking and eye-catching.

Our marketing strategy this year was already heavily focused on digital, with two key components being our influencer program and social content, which continues to drive awareness and sales both online and in-store. Regarding our influencer strategy, we have created a robust model which allows us to work with all levels of influencer from top powerhouse creators right down to micro and nano influencers. We’re also embracing new platforms such as TikTok. We have many direct relationships but also utilize some of the up-and-coming UGC creator platforms, which open up conversations with creators that we might not have previously worked with.

For example, with the launch of our Shapeshifter Texturizing Spray back in March, our influencer partnerships formed the basis of our paid social ad campaign. Across the board we used real girls instead of conventional hair models, so through this approach we challenged traditional launch strategies that simply push out branded content.

Another aspect we are focusing on is to create a quick and easy shopping experience through social media, utilizing platforms such as Instagram and enabling plug ins such as LikeShop to create a seamless shopping experience. This means that through our content strategy and influencer partnerships, we serve our audience inspirational hair looks as they scroll, while featuring products that can be easily shopped with a single click.”

On Online Sales Trends…

“Naturally, I think most businesses have seen an increase in online sales as doors have closed, but we’ve seen an exceptional uplift in our own e-commerce business as well as across some of our key retail partners. Our own conversion rates have exceeded industry standards with one key trend being the sharp increase in our new customers coming to shop with us online for the first time.

Another trend that we’ve seen is regarding the type of products that our consumers are purchasing. Our Therapy Session Mask and Deeptox Exfoliating Salt Shampoo are just two examples of this, where consumers are spending more time at home and perhaps adding more self-care elements into their regimen.”

On Supply Chain Disruptions…

“Aside from some minor delays in production and receiving inventory from our global third-party manufacturers, we have experienced minimal disruptions. For any sku’s affected, we have been proactive with informing customers of updated timelines, providing warnings of potential cuts to orders and advising on temporary out-of-stock risks.

With regards to our warehouse facilities, we have of course been taking strict precautions to ensure we really take care of everybody coming into work to continue to process orders. At the same time our operations team has been crisis planning for many weeks and as such we fortunately haven’t had any issues on that end other than a few days increase in shipping times, which I think is standard across the board.”

On the Evolution of Retail Partnerships…

“As a smaller budding brand, we need to partner with our retailers more than ever (Target, Ulta Beauty, Urban Outfitters and Sally Beauty to name a few). Early on, when non-essential retailers were forced to close their doors, tough decisions were made to help weather the storm. What we have found most encouraging is the determination of our retail partners to support us. As true partners they have checked in on us, provided countless business updates and helped us navigate the way forward. Together we have made plans to get to the other side and beyond. COVID-19 has forced us to put all our cards on the table and operate more transparently than ever. It has fostered comradery, strengthened our partnerships and built stronger foundations for the future.”

How Covid Has Affected Budgets…

“We decided not to pull back on any of our digital spend this year as long as we continue to see positive results. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been through our budgets with a fine-tooth comb, I can’t imagine there isn’t a single business out there that hasn’t done its due diligence on the financial side. But having said that, this process has meant that we feel absolutely confident that we will see a return on every dollar. If we can’t guarantee that, then we simply don’t do it.

Fortunately, we are a very progressive company with expansive long-term goals and a great leadership team, so this enables us to remain committed to bringing the best quality hair care at an affordable price to our consumers and in order to do that we will keep bringing new ideas to the table. We are still moving forward with launching a few new exciting products in the upcoming months. We still want to bring the essentials, infused with fun, to our customer’s hair routine.”

On Changes in Customer Engagement…

“Our customers are more engaged now than ever before, and our community continues to grow each day. We’ve already launched five new products this year, which have been hugely successful, so we know that our customer is looking for new things to try.

We could, however, see a change in the type of products that she’s looking for and the quality of ingredients/formulas that she demands. This is absolutely a time for beauty brands to be more transparent. And it’s our job to meet her needs in terms of what she wants, but also where she’s not willing to compromise. This means we will have to work even harder to bring her clean, innovative formulas, and continue to edit our assortment to address her hair concerns.”