In fact, Accenture’s research shows that shifts in consumer behavior and consumption will be long-term, challenging beauty companies to tailor their products and services to connect with people who are mostly at, or close to, home. This leaves us with an inescapable conclusion: The crisis will define consumption for the next decade; the 2020s will be the “decade of the home.” It has become the workplace, the schoolroom, the place to try new hobbies, the place to socialize and a safe sanctuary.
Home as Hub
The Accenture Consumer Insights team has been examining not just what consumers are doing today, but what this implies for their long-term habits and behaviors. The scale of the shifts in preference we are now seeing are dramatic. And as the crisis continues, they have become more sharply defined.
Stay-at-home orders are introducing consumers to new activities and ways of socializing, all amplified by digital tools and interactions. Not only do they enjoy these experiences, but they also plan to continue them over the long term.
Consider how beauty companies will need to account for this reality. It is a reversal of years of growth in out-of-home channels. It is a dramatic change in the “beauty occasions” such as social gatherings, holidays and weddings; convenience has a different meaning at home than on the go. It means creating superior experiences for consumers—not just ones they choose because they are unable or unwilling to leave their homes. Just look at how Kiehl’s, for instance, has taken its personalized consultations online via a “healthy skin hub.”
As well as dramatically increasing their buying online, consumers are switching to omnichannel services such as digital chat and virtual consultations. Successful beauty companies will be those that get creative, experimenting with new ways of engaging online and marketing strategies which promote products and activities that will continue to appeal, even after the pandemic passes.
Well before COVID-19, social media and communications platforms were an inextricable part of daily life. With continued focus on limiting in-person interaction, we have seen high brands move quickly to create virtual experiences to connect with consumers.
We are already seeing evidence of this is a trend playing out in APAC. A good example is Lin Qingxuan. The Shanghai-based skin cosmetics company was forced to close 40% of its stores during the crisis. In order to generate sales and connect with homebound consumers, the company redeployed more than 100 of its beauty advisors from those stores to become online influencers. They were able to use digital tools, such as WeChat, to engage people virtually and drive online sales. As a result, Lin Qingxuan achieved a major uplift in sales compared to the same period the year before.
Consumers Go Pro
With access to many professional services restricted and 38% of consumers remaining cautious about visiting public spaces, we have seen an increase in do-it-yourself (DIY) hair and beauty care. It calls for companies to create new experiences for the home. And we’re already seeing this play out. Just look at what nail care brand Butter London has done with its At-Home Treatment Kits. The company was quick to tap into the surge in demand for treatments, such as gel manicures, that are typically done in a salon. Butter London connected with consumers by using social media platforms to share educational content and how-to guidance to help create the salon experience at home.
L’Oréal is going one step further by taking the hair salon experience directly into the home with the launch of Color & Co, its hair color concierge service. The 24/7 platform connects homebound consumers with color professionals via text or video chat who can answer a full range of questions from shade selection and color application to guidance on how to find and test the right color using its virtual try-on and diagnostics tools.
The Power of Community
There are socially positive sides to this re-centering around the home, too. And with more time to spare, three in five consumers are taking the opportunity to build their skills in areas like dyeing their hair. Savvy companies can tap into this creative experimentation and these newfound passions to build deeper affinity with individuals.
For instance, when Procter & Gamble launched a razor that delivered a “hot towel shave” experience, it solicited feedback and garnered awareness among shaving enthusiasts through a crowdfunding campaign. Gillette fans and other passionate groomers became investors and part of the product development. It resulted in P&G selling six times the expected number of heated razors in the first week of the campaign.
Look to the Future
In the space of a few months, the landscape has changed remarkably, and we will likely face continued changes and adaptations in the years to come. There will be no return to business as usual.
In many ways, this pandemic has created an opportunity for companies to attract and engage with consumers in innovative new ways. Just as people are seeking to change for the better in this new era, so can businesses. This is the time to focus on the possibilities the future holds.
About the Author
Kim De Maeseneer is senior managing director, Accenture’s Consumer Goods and Services industry group. This article draws from consumer pulse surveys that Accenture has been taking since March 2020.