lancome_300x199This week we released our fifth annual 2013 Digital IQ Index: Beauty report. The beauty and personal care industry as a whole is projected to grow by 6% in 2013. E-commerce in that segment, however, is set to grow by an astonishing 29.1%. That is the highest digital growth this year among the soft goods sector, which includes apparel, retailing, home care, packaged food, and alcoholic drinks.

 

Lancôme earned the number one spot for the second year in a row in the 2013 Beauty Index due to a strong e-commerce site, the best mobile and tablet site among its peers, and social innovation.  We did a Q&A with Lancôme’s Vice President of Interactive and E-business Marketing Alessio Rossi and Lancôme’s Director of Social Media, Mimi Banks. Here are a few takeaways from our conversation:

 

Analyzing consumer habits or knowing when and where they use each device is key to building mobile experience. 

For example, consumers make quicker decisions on tablets. Lancôme invested in tools and resources to better understand their consumers’ path to purchase. These insights have been key to differentiating the experience across multiple devices, and delivering more targeted and personalized content that is tailored to consumers’ needs.

For Lancôme, social is a unique opportunity to engage into an open, bi-directional conversation with fans and customers. 

This strategy not only allows them to feel as if they part of the brand, it helps shape content. Often, social is thought of as something external to the company website. At Lancôme, social is integrated into all campaigns both online and offline.  Mimi Banks believes, “It is important to integrate superfans/brand advocates or user-generated content in a compelling way to complete the 360’ experience and continue to empower the consumer. We want to make sure that we reach our customers at the right place at the right time and in the right way.”

For example, Lancôme.com integrates social on the brand site with user-generated content on the product pages description pages, the ability to invite Facebook friends to join Lancome.com, and the opportunity to share products across all social channels. La Galérie, is a new space where users share their purchases and chat about their product experiences. “It’s a place to get customers to talk without imposing our brand,” Rossi says.

For Lancôme’s Social Media Director Mimi Banks, social is a place to listen and engage with the consumer.  “The shift of content is leaning towards fans/brand advocates as content creators.  Since social media is all about being authentic and engaging with the audience in a relatable way, we have seen a shift to less ‘manufactured’ ads and more Instagram-like pictures.” User-generated content can be a powerful tool for keeping a fan base engaged. “We make sure our publishing strategy is optimized and gives the consumers what she wants,” Banks says.

50% of an online transaction is what happens after the consumer has checked out.

People will remember the box the product came in, the gift message, and the tone of voice of the customer rep.  They will appreciate if they can instant message a customer care representative till 10 p.m., or that their credit card will be refunded in a few hours. A common mistake brands make, Rossi says, is focusing on getting the customer to the checkout point and abandoning the experience there.

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Amazon has raised the standards for everybody in the industry, but it needs to learn from other brands when it comes to luxury.

It is to be seen whether Lancôme products will be available on Amazon’s Luxury Beauty store, but Rossi believes Amazon has changed the landscape for any brand that sells online.

It has trained consumers to find everything in one spot, and is extremely curated in terms of fulfillment, Rossi says. Consumers can choose to receive everything the next day with the Prime option or have them shipped for free if they are willing to wait a few days. Rossi says he has never called Amazon, because he never had to. “What they do is artful and flawless in terms of experience,” Rossi said.

In entering the luxury space, however, Amazon has found that it needs more content. It is following the example of beauty brand websites and making moves to become more editorial. (It recently leased a 40,000 square-foot space in Brooklyn, New York for fashion shoots.) For Rossi, this signals that Amazon will face the same challenges as other retailers in its push to capture the luxury market. “They challenged us, but now they face the same challenge,” Rossi said.

Eventually, Rossi believes there will be a balance between the Amazon and other online retailers in terms of how many consumers they are able to capture.

 

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