While many of us have felt comfortable buying certain items – eg. tickets, CDs (remember them?!) – online for some time, even products which we’ve previously wanted to try, or look at, are now finding a place in the digital world.
More and more women are researching, reviewing, checking-up on and purchasing beauty products online and there is a growing number of social platforms whose ‘members’ tag and review cosmetics. These social platforms are cleverly replicating and improving the retail experience with online chats, make-up masterclasses, video demonstrations and more.
What this is doing is potentially shifting power from the traditional retail model. Instead of almost the entire ground floor of a department store taken up with alluring displays of how you could look if you purchase a particular brand of cosmetics and wear a particular perfume, many shoppers are hopping online to find out what’s new, see what others are saying about it and comparing prices.
These social beauty platforms include sites such as Pampadour.com, Bloom.com, SheSaidBeauty.com and Baobella.com. All allow users to upload pictures of hair, make-up and nail looks they’ve created or like as well as tag the product they use in those looks. A site such as Bloom also directs members to web retailers where some of those products may be sold.
Not to be outdone, savvy retailers are getting social also. Sephora runs BeautyTalk on its website where members are given rankings that include ‘hall of famer’ for the highest honour of the most interaction. Sephora won’t say how many customers belong to its social platform, but it does admit that some users spend more than 30 hours a week on the site. They give super-users advance information on new products and web site changes before others, but do not compensate them.
Many of the founders of these sites, and Sephora, say they are more influential than traditional advertisements as people like to try things that others recommend.
These sites are a potential gold mine for an astute marketer according to one marketing expert.
“You can listen to thousands of women without ever having to leave your desk.”
And once you’ve selected the product or products you want, it’s certainly worth while shopping around online. In fact, if you research long enough, you soon learn there’s not many good reasons to shop in person anymore. As an example, a 30ml bottle of Estee Lauder Beautiful perfume:
- cost $90 at a department store in Australia
- cost $90 online with the same department store and direct with Estee Lauder
- cost AUD$60.50 with an Asian online cosmetic retailer, and
- cost US$57 online with an American department store.
Both the overseas retailers have free shipping if you spend a total of $100.