UNLOCKING BEAUTY: Brand Insights & Content Strategies for Post-Lockdown

As we’ve said before, data and insights from pre-COVID may no longer be an effective, accurate baseline for marketers. Looking at new trends and datasets around audience behaviors and consumer expectations is an ongoing project.

Thanks to our partnership with many of the biggest global beauty, cosmetics, skincare, hair product and personal health companies from around the world, we identified and summarized insights for the beauty vertical during the lockdown. These inputs are aggregated from four distinct sources on both, a U.S. and global scale: Social listening & consumer’s discussion (blogs & forums); Search (SEO requests); Amazon search terms; and Publisher/audience media data. Here are some top-level learnings related to the ongoing containment behaviors, suggestions on how to address the basics, and new challenges to address moving forward:

Key Learnings: Four Lockdown Behaviors

  1.  Health, Safety & Food are the dominant conversation points.
  2.  Consumers have an unrivalled need for consideration, care and support from brands.
  3. “Social” time is being replaced by entertainment in all forms.
  4. Brand content in the beauty industry highlights actions, products and services.

Website visits to routine and recipe sites are up considerably for both, content and product information. This include a revived interest in palliative recipes (health-focused), efficiency recipes (making use of leftovers), and family-oriented recipes (cooking with the kids). The volume of the newsletter’s active subscribers and visits to sites is up, and, in some cases, by 200%. Channels and content created specifically for the crisis attracted some of the biggest traffic numbers across hundreds of websites.

Live streaming of a variety of content – from educational and professional, to entertaining and light, have driven and resulted in an increase in brand-consumer engagement. Sci Fi movies are surging as an escape from lockdown. Video game play is up anywhere from 150-300%, depending on the platform, game and technology. Streaming services are seeing record levels of subscribers, views and secondary social conversation. And SOME eCommerce is booming, but certainly not in all categories.

Key Actions: Five Fundamental Fixes

  1. Revise the Tone. Yes, Again: A big shift in tone has already taken place, as brands focused on the immediate and emergent health threats, lauded the sacrifices of frontline workers and confirmed that, yes, we are all in this together. But, consumers are increasingly ready for another shift in tone, even if not all behaviors are ready to return to pre-COVID “normalcy.” While the messaging needs to be specific for each brand and product, the tone can be this: Embracing our stressful and uncertain present will only make our future brighter, but one thing will never change: Our brand does care for others and our products do play a role in self-care. Things may feel different (and be different) for an extended period of time, so these new rules for daily life will persist: explore them with us and make the most of them. In this era where wellbeing is key, we are here for each one of you because home is where the care is. The ideas of “care” and “self care” will not need to go away.
  1. Re-Think The Role of Your Website: Most of the solutions and content ideas thus far have been social-first, but lifestyle AND lifecycle content on brands’ websites have a significant role to play as well. For many beauty brands, website traffic is up, so balancing engagement and conversion requires a delicate balance. As the primary focus should be Brand Love, marketers must adjust to the needs of their customers and bolster their website experience. Adapt your content and editorial plan to more effectively meet consumers’ new and emerging needs in this time of crisis and beyond. Strengthen the close relationship with consumers through inspiring content and create/maintain a destination for attractive, entertaining and useful content where everyone will find inspiration for an improved containment experience.
  1. Refresh the Content Experience: Some specific tangible opportunities for updating the website experience include:
    • Replace existing content that may be inappropriate or feel stale. Adapt the homepage and welcome messaging that is more contextually relevant, purpose-driven and considerate of social utility.
    • Leverage new production processes and opportunities, such as training an internal or external network of content creators (Advocates, employees, ambassadors, retail sales associates, etc).
    • Boost visibility to the page and website content with CRM and cross-channel media amplification.
    • Work the top of mind and not conversion. Be responsive. Test & learn.
  1. Re-Imagine Your Editorial Pillars: Answering and addressing the aforementioned needs must start with a bit of inspiration and consideration of consumers. Consider their new daily routines. Accompany them towards the future.
    • Reassure: Give solutions to make this time one of selfcare and beauty (in all senses), not of concern, additional stress and worry.
    • Value: Whether they are locked down or an essential worker at this special time, be considerate of different situations and envision what “afterwards” means for them.
    • Distract: Embody a ray of sunshine and positivity that people need right now.
    • Support: Offer support throughout every step of their journey, whether that results in a purchase or not.
  1. Refocus the Priorities:

    • Highlight Your Actions: Brands can continue (or start) to showcase and feature stories about global solidarity efforts made by the company. Consumers want to know what you do to help. This means less talk and more hands-on and socially-focused proof that you can get.
    • Highlight Your Value: Self-care from home has been part of your strategy for years. Your content has always been here. It will be there to offer answers and accompany consumers. In order to do this, you must consider and embrace the revamped daily life of your consumers.
    • Highlight Your Products: Staying at home includes adapting your routine, whether that be your self-care of beauty-focused routine. In the midst of these uncertain and changing times, ground your consumers back to the most essential and basic aspects of their routine. Help them choose the right products according to a sense of comfort and normalcy.
    • Highlight You Services: Consumers have time and want to try new things, either to pass time or divert themselves. Invite them to try new things with your virtual applications or color matchers. This is the time that consumers are more willing and able to experiment with new parts of their lives, so enhance and offer adventures in the services that you offer- if or when applicable, of course.

Key Insights: Six New Challenges to Address

  1. Getting Back to Essentials: With limited social interaction, consumers are adapting their routines. Specifically, reduced use of makeup and embracing “natural hair” have become trending “beauty looks on lockdown.” Discussions from influencers and consumers via social listening reveal these changes to routine, most notably including the celebration of the “natural,” may also continue post-quarantine. If so, education on self-care in a more natural and organic manner, from DIYs to cleaning, to extending the life of or re-using products instead of buying new ones, will come into greater demand.
  2. Experimental Beauty: Lockdown is a new time to question beauty. By staying at home, people feel less pressure perfect their makeup. Instead, they want to use this time to experiment with their typical looks. Whether or not this is because they have more time, want to try new things or have less money to invest in their beauty routines (and those can be costly), the bottom line is that this is the time that people are experimenting- especially with new, vibrant hair colors that require more adventure and beauty “risks.” With greying hair, at-home haircut disasters, new haircuts, new colors, in-between care, hair care is the category where people are experimenting most of their new routines. But, this doesn’t mean forgetting make-up all together. Many consumers still want to have fun, experiment and distract themselves during this time, so tutorials and makeup challenges and creative alternatives are omnipresent, as are wellness videos.
  3. Skin Concerns are at the Forefront: Discussions about skin problems surged around 15 days post-lockdown and have not subsided. Acne, spots, eczema, skincare concern are booming in every country and affecting all the targets due to stress/anxiety, comfort food, new routines (less cleansers due to a perception of less pollution) & hormonal changes due to quarantine. Dry skin is a booming topic, as well, due to handwashing and disinfectants (and this is NOT going away any time soon). This creates a real opportunity for content about best practices, links between food and beauty and tips for a healthier skin. Paging dermatologists at-home to create and share content. With an industry-wide decline in general beauty searches in March, skin care-related search volumes, from an SEO standpoint, have dramatically increased in April and is expected to continue to do so in May. In addition to skin care concerns, more people are using this time to indulge in treatments, including skin care treatments, such as facials and masks.
  4. Men are Much More Vocal About Beauty: Not entirely a COVID-specific trend, but women are not the only ones who are talking about their self-care routines and challenges, and we don’t expect that to go away. The lockdown has heightened volume and frequency of these male-driven conversations, especially with humor within social channels (DIY haircuts, beards and even skincare too). Male-focused brand content that strikes the right tone, addressing “beauty problems,” is being shared and discussed, and searches for products that men can “borrow” are also on the rise.
  5. Collective Beauty: Beauty is experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A true “me” moment turning into a collective activity for families, friends and across social media. It is both, tactical content opportunity and a revolution in the beauty world, and people are in need of professional advice and guidance, whether formal or informal. Hairstylists and spa expertise are booming (pro tutorials, hotlines…).
  6. Safety = Trust: Ingredients and product composition are increasing areas of interest and drivers of purchase consideration for consumers. Post-lockdown, habits will change and people won’t only want results, but guarantees. Influencers will continue to play a big part in changing brand communications and perceptions, but there may be a greater emphasis on the type of expertise and training that make influencers viable and valuable.

Let’s Get Contenting

Okay, so let’s get cracking on your revised content approach. We are here and ready to help with:

SEO content (PAA/long form); Visual content (slideshows, video); How-to/DIY; Expert advice; Q&A; Step by steps; At-home videos; ingredient focus; Influencer-generated content; and more!



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