“With consumer behavior edging toward preventive health, products such as hand sanitizers and hand soaps were out of stock across all channels,” Radhika Singal, research consultant at Euromonitor International told Happi.
While consumers turned to digital channels as beauty retailers closed down, the reality is that sales across many categories dipped. According to Radhika, social isolation negatively impacted the makeup, fragrance and sun care categories most, and the premium fragrance category will be “the worst casualty” long-term as a result of travel bans, low tourism and limited occasions for gifting.
“Professional salon products are also suffering as these services have been halted but there has been a boom with at-home treatments such as depilatories and hair colorants as a result and skin care continues to boom,” explained Singal.
As we slowly emerge from lockdown and into a “new normal,” priorities have changed for most of us; and that means many beauty brands, in order to stay relevant, will have to revise how they cater to consumers.
Many of Asia’s beauty giants are already making changes, adapting to the crisis with an empathic approach and offering “wellness classes” on social media. For example, The Body Shop Malaysia launched an omnichannel initiative with express delivery service via the Grab app-based delivery service. Consumers can place an order on their phone or through a WhatsApp message, pay for it and choose same day delivery to their doorstep or pick up from a designated drive-through location at the mall.
According to Radhika, tele-consultations have also become popular with the likes of Clarins Singapore, which introduced Clarins & Me, a free consultation service with a beauty expert over the phone. Elsewhere, Bobbi Brown Singapore launched a makeup tutorial series on Facebook entitled Beauty Recess, promoting it as a nice lunchtime break for those working from home.
Many beauty brands embraced e-commerce group Lazada’s online interactive engagement feature, LazLive, to directly connect with consumers during the pandemic. And in a three-day #backtobeauty marathon on the platform, L’Oréal livestreamed skin treatments, makeup looks, augmented reality games, and offered flash sales and deals.
“Lazada hosted an audience of 27 million on its livestreaming service in April, generating an increase in GMV by 45% month-over-month aided by its see-now, buy-now feature, helping brands and sellers enjoy increased sales despite lockdowns and stay at-home recommendations across the region,” according to the analyst.
In-Store in the New Normal
As physical retail space re-opens, brands must walk a tightrope—abiding by government measures as well as reassuring the cautious consumer that it’s safe to come back to traditional retail outlets. Many retailers are ordering UV light boxes to disinfect inventory, and there is even talk of quarantining products for 24-48 hours if they have been touche by consumers.
In Malaysia, cosmetics brands are mandated by the government to remove all in-store testers and suspend beauty services, and many are going beyond this to stress cashless transactions and contactless beauty consultations using disposable tools.
In Singapore, the government plans to roll out more than 200 mobile Sunburst UV Bots at shopping malls and healthcare centers which emit powerful UVC light that is said to be clinically proven to disinfect the environment by tearing apart strands of the virus’s DNA and is more effective than manual cleaning.
In the months to come, with product testers unavailable in-store, Radhika says there’s no reason why virtual technology already available to consumers online cannot be utilized in-store.
Virtual Artist Apps
Ulta beauty is already promoting GlamLab, its virtual try on technology, as an alternative to in-store testing on opening in the US.
“There is no reason why Sephora’s Virtual artist app or L’Oréal’s Modiface cannot be adapted for the same application,” explains Singal. “As Sephora gears up to open stores in Singapore, it will be leveraging its Virtual Artist app to digitally try on products whilst in the store using facial recognition technology. The products can either be bought within the app or paid for at the cashier.”
A ban on cash payments will be a boost to the cashless economy, making it easier for retailers to integrate buy now, pay later and other flexible payment options that may become a long-term preference for consumers.
According to the Euromonitor International analyst, there will be an increase in humanitarian collaborations. L’Oréal Malaysia, for example recently partnered with the country’s Hairdresser’s Association to discuss procedures to reopen hair salons.
Meanwhile, Lazada partnered with a start-up, Aspire, to provide working capital loans of up to $100,000 within three hours of application to SMEs listed on Lazada to support small businesses in financially difficult times and ensure that they do not go out of business.
Michelle Yeomans is an award winning multimedia journalist. She has been reporting on cosmetics industry movements in EMEA, US and Asia for five years and has won an award for her coverage of the complexities of operating in the Middle East. Michelle’s passion lies in tracking the beauty culture and trends of the Asia Pacific region. Ever the AV enthusiast, she also relishes the opportunity to create engaging video and podcast content for the B2B industry.