Image by: Angelica Cionci
While beauty remains essential during the pandemic, how women engage with beauty has abruptly shifted – making it crucial for beauty brands to re-think every touchpoint along their various customer journeys.
No industry has been left unaffected by the Coronavirus pandemic with the beauty industry taking a major hit. COVID-19 has completely changed the beauty industry at least for the time-being. People have been forced to adapt their “preferred” customer journey due to the restrictions from COVID-19. Brands must rapidly revisit their customer journey strategies – “to both optimize existing journey touchpoints and invent new ones – from building awareness through to engagement, conversion and brand loyalty.” The global beauty industry has been jolted by this pandemic. Nail salons, hair salons and beauty stores all remain closed as they are considered “non-essential”. In most major beauty-industry markets, “in-store shopping accounted for up to 85 percent of beauty-product purchases prior to the COVID-19 crisis.” With the closure of premium beauty-product outlets, approximately 30 percent of the beauty-industry market was shut down according to an article on Mckinsey and Company, How COVID-19 is changing the world of beauty. I personally do not do any of my makeup or beauty product purchasing online. When I do any makeup or beauty shopping, my preference is going to Sephora. I follow the customer journey below for Sephora. It is important that I view the products in-store, have a consultation, and try the products to see what is works best for me before I make a purchase. The “experience” portion of the journey is essential for me to actually follow through with making a purchase.
So what will does new customer experience for Sephora look like?
I wanted to see for myself what the new customer journey for Sephora is like now that stores are starting to open. I didn’t think there would be much change from Sephora’s previous customer journey but my experience was completely different than what I am use to at Sephora. The “Wanting” and “Searching” portion of the customer journey is still the same because luckily that is virtual (desire for a product, get inspired and find reviews). The Experience portion has completely shifted… which is the essential part if not most important part of their customer journey.
Upon arrival there is a Sephora employee out front of the store managing the number of customers allowed in at one time. This is nothing new because of COVID. I was asked if I was familiar with the new rules for shopping at Sephora. I replied that I was not. The rules basically revolve around a “no-touch” concept. No touching products and no trying products and you must keep your mask on at all times.
During the “Beauty consultation” there was no trying on of make-up; so for a consultant to “match” your product, they spray the product on an acrylic plate then hold this up to your forehead. This did not seem helpful because products look completely different on skin. I ended up not purchasing the product. The no-try policy is tough for both customers and Sephora because it creates fewer chances to recommend products and make sales. Although the steps of the customer journey did not change very much, the changed consultation and “try-on” portion of the journey completely changed my overall customer experience
Sephora is trying fill the experience gap of their customer’s journey with utilizing their augmented reality feature that is available on their mobile app. This aims to give the customer the same experience of testing products like they would in store. They also are offering free shipping on all orders to entice customers to purchase. I have tried the augmented reality feature and it is pretty accurate for showing which shades of products will look the best.
How has your customer journey for the beauty industry changed? (Cosmetic stores, Hair salons, or barber shops)
Do you feel that the augmented reality makeup application offered by Sephroa is enough to fill the “experiencing” gap in their customer journey?
Gerstell Emily Gerstell and Emma Spagnuolo are associate partners in McKinsey’s New Jersey office, Emily, et al. “How COVID-19 Is Changing the World of Beauty.” McKinsey & Company, www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/how-covid-19-is-changing-the-world-of-beauty.
Gilliland, Nikki. “How the Beauty Industry Is Responding to Coronavirus.” Econsultancy, 8 Apr. 2020, econsultancy.com/how-the-beauty-industry-marketing-is-responding-to-coronavirus/.
“FK Insights: Beauty Under Quarantine: Customer Journeys Take A Detour.” Fletcher Knight, 22 May 2020, fletcherknight.com/fk-insights/customer-journey-mapping.
Utroske, Deanna. “19 Ways the Beauty Industry Is Responding to CoronaVirus.” Cosmeticsdesign.com, 18 Mar. 2020, www.cosmeticsdesign.com/Article/2020/03/18/19-ways-the-beauty-industry-is-responding-to-CoronaVirus.