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How data can (and should) drive your beauty marketing strategy

As a beauty brand, you encourage consumers to express their individuality. But are you marketing to them as individuals—or as a general mass?

One of the biggest challenges we see beauty brands facing is that they’re spending millions of dollars on digital marketing every year, but it’s nearly impossible to understand what’s actually driving sales for each individual consumer.

You know if your sales go up or down, but you have very limited visibility into who—specifically—is buying your products and what influenced that individual to buy.

It all comes down to a lack of data. Beauty brands tend to be data-poor. You have very little first-party information on who your customers are and what they’re interested in because people largely buy your products at retail stores.

But if you want to be more relevant to each and every person—to celebrate and encourage their individuality—you’ll need to figure out a new approach.

Enter syndication.

What is a beauty syndicate network?

Networks and audiences built on syndicated sales data have been around for years in the CPG industry, mostly specific to grocery through working with a partner like NCS or IRI. Retail partners pool their data to create the syndicate and sell the combined data to CPG brands. This aggregate purchase data and panel data helps brands get an estimate of audience segments that are buying their products—with the goal of targeting and measuring their digital marketing more accurately.

This syndicate concept is relatively new to the beauty industry (outside of the few large brands in the grocery stores)—but it has the potential to revolutionize how you communicate with your customers.

At Conversant, we’ve been developing a syndicate specific to beauty retailers, so beauty brands can leverage all of the great insight and online/offline customer data available from those retailers. Our solution is called Brand Connect, and it aggregates information on past online and in-store beauty brand buyers, plus in-market shoppers that are actively searching for products online. The data comes from key beauty retailers like Ulta and Sally Beauty, and the real-time information from these retailers offers:

  1. A better understanding of who is actually in-market for your products (and who is shopping competitors)—at the product level.
  2. How your marketing influences each buyer throughout the campaign—no need to wait 30 days to understand your impact.
  3. How to get consumers to buy more at your retail partners.

But what’s the difference between Brand Connect and working with a regular CPG syndicate network? Although helpful for CPG brands, who don’t have access to first-party customer data, these syndicates have some drawbacks. The data is all from offline purchases, and it’s typically at least 12 months old, which is very removed from in-market consumers.

Why beauty brands need to think 1:1

Why do you need all of this data on individual consumers?

Although well-staged Instagram photos and influencer vlogs had their heyday, personalized and relevant communications are what drive action in today’s beauty industry. And you can’t have relevant conversations without understanding who to talk to and what to talk about.

For the best results, you need to:

  1. Find the people most likely to want your product
  2. Send them messaging and creative they care about, at the right time, across all their devices
  3. Suggest the retail partner they’re most likely to purchase at based on past behavior

Brand Connect allows you to accurately identify your existing customers, as well as your best prospects, while they’re in market for your specific products (right down to the SKU).

For example, let’s say L’Oréal is looking to increase sales of their True Match Foundation. The brand could use beauty syndicate data to deliver personalized messages to consumers who have bought the foundation in the past (online or offline) or who have searched for or browsed the foundation online through one of the participating retail partners.

Once someone buys the foundation, L’Oréal can use that conversion to better understand who is purchasing to continually optimize audience targeting. And if it makes sense, they can turn off messaging after purchase—you don’t want to waste ad dollars on someone who has already converted. With other syndicate offerings, you have to wait 30 days to see if anyone on your target list purchased your product, and there is no opportunity for real-time suppression.

What does beauty syndicate marketing look like in real time?

Let’s pretend Maria is looking for a new mascara.

  1. She browses a specific foundation on ULTA.com but does not immediately purchase.
  2. Thanks to our syndicate data, that brand can see that Maria may be in market and offer her display ads for the foundation, co-branded with ULTA.
  3. Maria ultimately purchases the foundation in-store at an ULTA retail location, which the brand can see and measure while the campaign is still in flight (with syndicate data, brands can accurately report on number of items sold, both online and in-store).
  4. The brand can then suppress further foundation ads to Maria and use her conversion to more accurately target additional consumers like her.

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Be the individual in your industry

Few beauty brands today are using smart marketing solutions based on transactional data. But it’s time to stop marketing to the masses. It’s time to stop spending millions on campaigns you can’t measure.

The future of beauty marketing lies in treating each consumer like the individual that they are. Don’t guess at what products your customers want or where they want to shop. Instead, show them that you know them and understand them. Offer them highly relevant, personalized messaging—that you can accurately measure and continually optimize.

It’s all newly possible, thanks to Conversant Brand Connect.