Celeste Hilling has gone from high-tech to high-touch…literally. With more than two decades in beauty, Celeste is the CEO, Co-founder and Product Formulator for Skin Authority. Prior to following her passion for helping everyone have access to effective skin care, Celeste was one of the first female officers in Fortune 25 high-tech. Here, Celeste, in her own words, cites research from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) on the three trends millennials are driving that’s changing shopping behavior.
How do you plan to capture the attention of beauty shoppers this holiday season? Basic BOGO, counting on Black Friday and passive sales clerks won’t make the cut. With the majority of beauty shoppers being millennials, it’s all about wowing, customization and technology.
Often referred to as being in the “era of narcissism,” millennials created the selfie and put their needs front and center when shopping. Research from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) shows millennials are the largest work force, 87 percent say their smartphone never leaves their side, and they are money-driven, creative and open to change.1
The research also shows that in the past 100 years the average household size has declined from four-plus people to 2.5. Therefore, there’s likely to be more disposable income to spend on self. When compared to Gen X or Baby Boomers, millennials are willing to experiment, take risks and want to be wowed. Above all, technology is king when it comes to capturing their attention and dollars.
Before I began working in beauty more than two decades ago, I was one of the first female officers in Fortune 25 high-tech. My time in high-tech taught me many things, including how technology can be an enabler of human connection versus a disconnection. When properly applied, this connection is a key factor in making the often passive process of shopping for beauty an interactive experience.
The following focuses on how today’s millennial consumers want to shop for beauty. Here, three trends millennials are driving that are changing shopping behavior:
• The “I Want It Now” Mentality – E-commerce is at nine percent of total retail sales versus one percent in 1998 per research from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) KPCB. Yet, 76% of American shoppers view customer service as a “true test” of how much a brand values them.2 Is it possible to accomplish both? Apps and technology put customer service, coaching and customization at consumers’ fingertips.
Connected smartphones enable concierge services for anyone. Without leaving home, consumers can seamlessly reserve, connect and pay. Glossify, The Glam App, Glamsquad are just a few of the new apps bringing beauty direct to consumers. To make the skin care shipping experience interactive and effective, I led the creation of the new My Skin Authority app. My Skin Authority is the first free, interactive mobile app that enables a live session with a certified skin coach. The coaches give personalized recommendations & guidance when and where the consumer needs it: at the point of sale, at home, traveling, etc.
Speaking of point of sale, apps can be used as an extension of a store’s staff to provide personalized coaching from brand experts, order fulfillment of items that may be out-of-stock in the store, inventory management, etc. I’ll cover this more in the next article.
Technology is just one of the ways the role of a store associate is changing. In a new report,3 PricewaterhouseCoopers touched on this movement, “Even in mass-market stores, tomorrow’s sales associates will need to be researchers and diplomats, adept at using technology and making connections with customers.” The report added, and I agree, that by giving salespeople more information about their customers’ interests and histories, retailers will enable the consultative selling approach most customers prefer.
• Hyper-personalized – Gone are the days of XX product, color, scent works for me; we are in the days of consumers wanting products made for them. Want your lip color and nail polish to match your outfit? 3D printing makes that possible.
Hyper-personalized beauty was a key trend named in Spafinder Wellness 365’s Global Spa & Wellness Trends Forecast. Former Spafinder Editor Jackie Burns explains, “With the onslaught on social media, consumers are so connected to the brands they use. This added level of personalization makes them feel as though they are truly part of something, a member of “tribe.”
• The Authority Mindset – Smartphones have created the “How To” culture. Tutorial and review videos are critical to selling beauty. To make your videos shoppable, Joyus.com is a great resource. At any point during viewing, viewers can click-through to purchase the item being demoed as well as other items in the video. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have shoppable features in testing phases or already launched.
More proof: the KPCB report adds that 80% of millennials reach for their smartphone as soon as they wake up. With the internet, shoppers have access to everything. This changes the way we should approach product selection. Previously, there was a mindset of, “Look at her make-up, clothing, etc.; they must be from New York or California.” The reality is, beauty is ubiquitous, so the decisions we make as beauty leaders must cast a wide net.
Product mix will take a bigger role in my next article in the series. This piece will also delve deeper into the advancements of high-tech shopping and the benefits & challenges of the new marketplace.
About the Author – With more than two decades in the beauty and skin care industries, Celeste Hilling is the Founder, CEO and Product Formulator for Skin Authority. Skin Authority is respected for developing pure and powerful products without the use of parabens, added fragrance, dyes or animal testing. More on www.skinauthority.com, Facebook at Skin Authority, Twitter @SkinAuthority and @MissSkin.
2. Aspect Software