One of the more popular digital transformation stories on diginomica in recent months is that of cosmetics giant L’Oreal. That firm has tapped into digital so effectively that its mantra has become:
E-commerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake.
Others in the beauty industry have struggled more to make the shift to the digital world, but some, like Revlon, are stepping up their efforts, driven in part by consumers taking matters into their own hands. Revlon had a shock in December, admits CEO Fabian Garcia:
New consumers shifted their purchases from mass retailers to specialty beauty and online channels at an accelerated rate and that was to lower food traffic in mid-tier department stores…We have said we seek growth wherever and however consumers shop. We need to be strong in the mass channels. We need to see accelerated growth in specialty and we have been on a quest to accelerate growth on e-commerce…The magnitude of the December change was a surprise, but we have actions in place to start to see change as we go forward.
Part of this will undoubtedly be helped by the integration of the Elizabeth Arden brand into the Revlon family, being more advanced and sophisticated in its use of digital and e-commerce channels than the new parent company. But there are also new initiatives underway to grow online presence, most notably a ground-breaking deal with e-commerce behemoth Amazon.
As part of a campaign called the Love Project, the cosmetics maker will stamp its name and the slogan #loveinthreewords on 10 million Amazon shipping boxes until the end of this month, explains Garcia:
In February, the Revlon brand teamed up with Amazon behind an innovative campaign which features co-branded shipping boxes and a social activation campaign that invites consumers to share their personal views on what love means to them in three words, #loveinthreewords. Revlon is the first beauty company to execute a program like this with Amazon.
With an eye to the millennial market - now spending $13 billion a year on cosmetics - Revlon is hoping to get some cool association by signing Gwen Stefani as its global brand ambassador, as well as getting its name in the music video of Lady Gaga’s ‘Million Reasons’. Garcia says:
Gwen strongly resonates across generations of fans including her 6 million Instagram and 7 million Facebook followers and the new influencers offer the potential to further amplify our messaging and consumer engagement.
The increased emphasis on social outreach is paying early dividends, he adds.
The first 30 second video which previewed on Lady Gaga’ social media last week generated within 24 hours of its posting nearly 1 million unique views. The campaign which aims to create meaningful connections with Revlon’s consumers, particularly socially conscious millennials achieve more than 570 million media impressions within 72 hours of its launch. This multi-faceted program drives more consumers to revlon.com and further expands the go-to action #loveinthreewords.
With marketing spend accounting for around 20% of total revenues, there will be a greater emphasis on digital, confirms Garcia:
This is indicative of three things. One, our intent to make our brand stronger by investing more behind them in brand support, but allocating more of that brand support to the channels that matter. Today, the consumer is everywhere, so you cannot just be on TV or print or more traditional advertising, you need to be more active digitally. So we're investing a lot more digitally as a percent of our total investment and in 2017, our commitment is to increase the support behind the brand as we're having their content to show to our consumers. And the last thing that I believe this is indicative of is greater activity to drive to e-commerce.
Offline as well
That said, Garcia still talks in terms of offline retail as the “mass channel” for Revlon and as part of the omni-channel thinking, the firm is engaged in conversations with major US retailers to come up with a plan to “restore growth and excitement” there. Garcia explains:
All of our mass trade partners are keenly interested to lure the consumer back to their channel and they are improving for the most part that in-store beauty experience. I would invite you to visit some of the larger names in this space and you will be surprised to see the improvement that they're making in their walls, the improvements they are making with their services, the improvement they’re making with their portfolio of brands they're offering, the improvement they’re making with the overall experience in and outside of the store and a lot of action digitally. So I think this is good news all around for the consumer. It is good news all around for all of us who participate in omni-channel and I think there's going to be a lot of competition going forward between channels that is good for the consumer at the end of the day.
It’s omni-channel thinking that’s going to win out, he argues, pointing to Revlon’s growth in China as a case in point:
We continue to do well in China, both in brick and mortar and online. We have done well because of our omni-channel strategy, so we are upgrading counters, making sure we're selling to higher end retailers at high quality of those, making sure we introduce in that market, Asia specific product innovations, especially in care and in foundations and also making sure that the service we provide in those countries is very competitive. And last but not least, continuing to learn how to be competitive online. We're very happy with how our Chinese subsidiary is managing the balance between online and offline.
The trick now is making sure that the same balance is struck in the domestic US market.
Overall it’s clear that Revlon’s digital presence and strategy is not as significant or as well-honed as that of L’Oreal, but the firm is clearly intent on upping its omni-channel game. One to return to for an a progress report in a few months time.