Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Just how important are Facebook & Twitter to beauty brands?

Most brands now know that they should have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. But do they know why? A good way to work this out is to think about how Twitter and Facebook influence YOU in your perception of brands and your purchasing decisions.

When I had a think about this i realised the following things:

  • If I want to purchase something from a website that I haven’t heard of before, I check to see if they have Twitter and Facebook pages, and if they do, I check the kind of conversation and level of consumer interaction that is going on. This is because I feel like if a company is willing to put a voice and personality to their brand, and if they are willing to open themselves up to a public forum where people can easily complain (and others can see the complaints), then it give me a certain level of trust in them and I will go ahead and make a purchase.

  • If I see people talking about a product on Twitter, I am influenced by their opinions. I recently bought an eyebrow pen that I had no idea I wanted, but seeing people raving about it on Twitter and on blogs made me decide I needed it in my life! (Remember that I have worked in the beauty industry for years so I am not usually easily swayed by new products with big promises, but when the general consensus of my peers is that a product is particularly good, it grabs my interest.)

  • If I am considering buying a beauty product but want to know if it is worth the investment, I ask my Twitter followers what they think about the product and their opinions will influence my decision to buy or not.

  • Sometimes a competition to ‘like’ a brand on Facebook will drive me to join the Facebook page of a brand I have never heard of before (if the prize is appealing). This not only makes me aware of a brand I never previously knew existed, but when their future status updates start appearing in my Facebook news feed, as long as it is relevant to me I find myself engaging with them – checking out their new products that they have announced, or joining their newsletter, or whatever.

  • If I talk to a brand through Twitter and they don’t respond, it makes me think poorly of the brand. Conversely if they respond, it enhances my perception of the brand as I like that they took the time to reply.

This demonstrates not only the importance of being on Facebook, but also how to engage with your consumers once you are there. If you are not there and not joining in the conversation, people may not know you even exist and you cannot influence the perceptions of your brand.

For more information, here is a particulary good article from TrendWatching on how friends, fans and followers are influencing consumers' purchasing decisions.

How do Facebook and Twitter influence you in your perception of brands and your purchasing decisions?

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Beauty industry: business news


My round-up of the headlines relevant to the beauty industry:

Reuters reports that Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has acquired a social media company to explore new ways of reaching shoppers digitally


SmartMoney.com (from the Wall Street Journal) tells us 10 Things the Beauty Industry Won’t Say


Chicago Sun Times reveals the latest findings from the Professional Beauty Association and says that the beauty retail industry is on schedule to reach $59 billion in 2012


Euromonitor is speaking at the Nutraceutical Business and Techonology Awards on 11 May, 2011


The BBC asks: Have we conquered ageing?


Reuters reveals that L’Oreal’s Q1 profits are up by 5.8% like-for-like


The Beauty Bible Blog tells us that the latest pop-up shop at Selfridges, London is Australian brand Aesop

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

BBC2's Britain’s Next Big Thing – what are Boots buyers looking for?


Boots is the Holy Grail for many beauty brands hoping to make it big – their nationwide accessibility on every high street creates brand recognition and sales numbers that most brands can only dream of.

Unfortunately Boots’ Buyers are notoriously difficult to get into, as they usually work with tried and tested suppliers. So when BBC2 teamed up with the health and beauty retailer in Britain’s Next Big Thing (aired earlier this evening), they gave the public a rare opportunity to pitch their product ideas to Boots’ top buyers.

From hundreds of applicants just 10 people were chosen to pitch to Boots’ top buyers; Annabel Franks, Head of Exclusives; Andy Atkinson, Cosmetics Category Manager and Alison Hands, Baby & Food Category Manager.

Here are the key tips and advice taken from the show, for pitching to Boots’ buyers:

•    In the first meeting the health and beauty buyers want to understand who the person/people are and what their product is – what’s the idea, what’s the USP
•    If they are interested in the idea, the buyers will request a second meeting, in which they will then discuss rigorous testing, packaging, distribution... all the finer details of launching a brand
•    Don’t just talk at the store buyers – allow space in the conversation for the buyers to ask questions
•    Personality counts: 2 young guys fresh from university pitched their brand Wingman – male hygiene wipes – which the beauty buyers didn’t feel was quite right for the market, but because they liked the people presenting the pitch so much, they invited them back for a second meeting
•    Logistics are key –an entrepreneur pitched an organic male skincare range, which due to its organic nature had a very short lifespan, so the products wouldn’t last long on-shelf. The entrepreneur suggested that Boots keeps the products in fridges in-store, but logistically this just isn’t feasible and so the buyers turned it down
•    Product testing is all-important and was always one of the first questions the health and beauty buyers asked about. For example, a natural range that treated eczema really impressed the buyers but they couldn’t take the products on until they had been rigorously tested, particularly as eczema products are considered as medical and have to be tested as such
•    What impressed the Boots health and beauty buyers most were the people who completely understood who the Boots customer is and knew how their products fitted into their lifestyle

If you missed Britain's Next Big Thing on BBC2, you can watch it online here

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Press launches: personality & approachability go a long way

Paul Smith chats to beauty bloggers in his office
(pic credit: Really Ree)

When I met with my lovely friend and fashion/beauty blogger Really Ree for lunch recently, she was buzzing from the Paul Smith launch she had just been to. Ree told me that not only had she met the fashion designer in person, what’s more the launch was an intimate affair in his own office rather than the usual kind of fragrance launches that tend to have huge crowds in a hired venue somewhere in London.

Ree raved about how nice and approachable Paul Smith was, and how optimistic and inspiring she found him (which was very fitting given that the launch was for his new fragrance, Optimistic.)

What really interested me over the next couple of weeks that followed was the bout of beauty blogger reviews about their encounters with Paul Smith, which all echoed Ree’s sentiments:
“I was expecting some kind of awkward corporate set-up followed by more awkward questions and even more awkward dingling around at the end. Upon arrival, I was nothing short of startled to be led straight up to his office and greeted by the man himself with a warm handshake and pat on the back. What followed has not only cemented my perception of the brand, but has also somewhat inspired me on a personal level too.” Fleur de Force

“Incredibly, we barely talked about [the fragrance], probably because Paul Smith is a real person and not a sales person.” Really Ree

“I'd expected some sort of blah Powerpoint presentation showing intense diagrams of top, middle and bottom notes along with a ton of those paper strips and a room that ends up smelling of vaguely floral boredom. Happily, I couldn't have been more wrong.” British Beauty Blogger

“What I took away from my encounter… I like the brand a lot more now I can put a face to it (plus the SS11 collection is divine). Also, you don’t have to be a stuck-up hard-nut to make it in such a competitive industry.” The Beauty Button

I found these reviews fascinating – not only did Paul Smith’s personal approach guarantee his new fragrance was reviewed by the bloggers, but they left with a very positive view of the Paul Smith brand as a whole, and in turn portrayed this positivity to their readers.

This to me is a perfect case study proving that in the beauty industry, personality, approachability and niceness go a long, long way to a brand’s success. And when beauty bloggers and journalists are attending multiple press launches on a daily basis, it is worth beauty PR companies and their brands providing them with an experience that’s different to the norm, as their appreciation and excitement about the event will be extended to your brands... and therefore their reviews of your brands.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

This week’s recommended reads


Following my recent blog post where I encouraged you all to keep up with beauty news and innovation, here is my first of a regular series of blog posts on my recommended reads, bringing you links to recent articles, news pieces or blog posts that I have found informative/inspiring. These will mainly be about, but not limited to, the beauty industry, social media or marketing.

If you have any links that you would like to share with readers of Your Beauty Industry, leave the link in the comments box below or email it to me at yourbeautyindustry@gmail.com. If I think it will be of interest to my readers I will share it on here, and of course credit you.

Elle.com tells us about the new guidelines for misleading beauty adverts (thanks to Imogen Matthews via @PremBeauty on Twitter for alerting me to this)

Greg Jarboe at SearchEngineWatch.com talks about how small companies can become YouTube partners

Lisa Eldridge, a makeup artist who I have great respect for, talks us through the history of beauty

Jane at British Beauty Blogger talks about how to engage with bloggers, following her recent presentation at the Beauty Focus conference

Make Up in Paris is a 2 day trade show dedicated to the beauty industry, which will be held 23-24th June 2011

Cosmetics Business looks at the rise and rise of social media in its feature Social Media: Heard it through the Grapevine?

And finally, I came across a blog this week called Daily Bits of Beauty, which I find completely inspiring and beautiful.

I hope you find these useful!

Do your research!

Do you research what’s going on in your industry regularly? You should do. Whatever sector of the beauty industry you work in, you will always be better at what you do if you understand your industry from all angles.

And – importantly – if you not only keep up with what is happening in the industry but also regularly research emerging trends and technologies, you can make sure you are always a step ahead of your competitors. Don’t look at what everyone else is doing and do the same – think about how you think these trends will develop and create your own route. Create your own trends. Look at trends in other industries and bring them to beauty.

Immerse yourself in the people that are imperative to the job that you do – be it consumers, journalists, bloggers or whoever, so you can get a deep understanding of what they want, instead of offering them what you think they want, or offering them what everyone else is already offering.

It can be difficult to find the time to research, as our days are already full to the brim with our daily work demands. But set yourself some time aside each day to research and you will soon see the direct impact it has on your work.

I am signed up to a ton of blogs, vlogs and newsletters and I follow some fantastic people and brands on Twitter which regularly tweet interesting news links. When you come across an interesting piece or a writer/blogger you particularly admire, check to see if there is a newsletter/blog that you can sign up to so that future news is sent straight to your inbox or your RSS feed, instead of you having to remember to hunt the same websites out time and again.

I find myself feeling guilty when I do my daily research – especially because I enjoy it so much! I feel like I should be dedicating every minute of the day to work I am getting paid for. But my research only enhances the work I do for my clients – it inspires me with creative ideas, gives me a sound knowledge of the industry and enables me to help them stay one step ahead of the game.

I will be sharing some of my favourite links with you in future posts on my blog, to help inspire and inform you. You can also check out my Recommended Reads and Useful Links on the left hand menu bar of this blog. If anyone has any articles, news pieces, blog posts or anything you would like to share with other people in the beauty industry, please leave the link in the comment box below, or email them to me at yourbeautyindustry@gmail.com, and I will share them with my readers (and credit you). Share the love!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Who should look after a brand’s social media?

Social media is big news and brands are cottoning on to the fact that it is a very powerful medium and should be incorporated into their marketing plans. The trouble is, while most brands know they should be utilising social media, they don’t necessarily know how to go about doing it... and do it well.

So it makes sense then to call in the experts. But who should look after your brand’s social media? Someone in-house, the PR team, a dedicated social media agency, or someone else? I often see news articles and opinion pieces that argue this point, usually with PR agencies saying it’s the PR’s role, social media agencies saying it should be handled by an agency dedicated to social media... you catch my drift.

As my company specialises in social media for beauty brands I find it a very interesting debate and so I found myself thinking ‘who is the best person for the job?’. I could of course do myself a favour and say it should be someone who specialises in social media... oh, that would be me!

But actually, I think ‘which creative team should look after my social media’ doesn’t have a definitive answer. Because potentially, any of the aforementioned teams could do a good job of working on a brand’s social media. Instead, there are two key things to consider:
1.    Whoever you choose to look after your social media should completely understand how to maximise the activity and create a social media marketing plan with a 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 1 year strategy, rather than just setting up Twitter and Facebook pages and reaching out to a few bloggers and hoping for the best.
2.    The person/team looking after your social media should dedicate a decent amount of time to working on it each week, rather than it just being an afterthought and banging out a few emails and Facebook/Twitter updates at the end of the day.

Social media should be fully integrated within all teams, to ensure a cohesive approach across all of your company’s activity. Before setting up your social media strategy it should be discussed between all your teams together, from marketing to PR, sales to customer service, product development and so on, to identify and meet each of their needs.

Ask your departments – what are your overall aims and objectives? Then discuss how social media can be a part of their activity to meet these objectives and maximise activity. For instance, product development could use social media for customer feedback and market research for new products. Customer service could use social media to answer queries and complaints, and turn negative feedback into a positive experience. Social media could create newsworthy campaigns that PR can then promote to the press.

The important thing is that one person/team should lead and manage this process, creating and implementing a plan based on all of these needs, with input and instigation from each of the teams where necessary. This person/team should be focused on planning and implementing the activity, with regular updates and feedback across all of the teams who can add their own input and findings – which can then be acted upon quickly.

Social media by its very nature is immediate and reactive, so the social media marketing plan doesn’t need to be set in stone; it just needs to be a guide to ensure there is consistent and regular activity that meets the brand’s aims, rather than ending up just doing social media for social media’s sake. Because social media is so interactive with your consumers it can be unpredictable and is a constant learning curve, so learn from each activity and adjust your marketing plan to suit.

Having said all this social media can also be used for standalone activity, for example a one-off blogger outreach campaign, particularly if you are a small company and don’t have the luxury of PR and marketing teams. For instance I recently did a one-off 3 month blogger outreach campaign for a small beauty brand where the owner was regularly overseas. In this instance I had a clear brief of the campaign’s objectives and got on and did my job, simply updating her regularly on my progress by email.

But that is the beauty of social media; whether you are a big company or a small brand, you can make social media work for you, based on your needs and budget. Just make sure you know your aims before you begin and ensure your planned activity meets these aims. And whoever has the expertise in social media and is prepared to dedicate the time to it for your brand, is the person/team that is most suited to work on your social media.

Visit my company's website at www.stylewithsubstance.co.uk 

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

An interview with... Jo Tutchener, founder and joint MD of Beauty Seen PR

Years in beauty industry: 14

Having built up an enviable PR career at both small boutique companies and multi-national brands in-house, Jo Tutchener went on to set up Beauty Seen PR which has fast gained a reputation as a leading beauty PR company. Jo talks to Your Beauty Industry about staying relevant, standing out in a crowded industry and the importance of a good team.


How did you start your career in beauty?
I actually fell into the beauty industry - I had always really wanted to work in fashion, loving the glamour and excitement that came with it. I started my career in fashion at Exposure, before moving on to Purple PR. The move to beauty came when Purple was approached to represent Ruby & Millie. I was one of only three Account Managers at Purple at the time, and the only girl. This teamed with the fact that I begged my Director to let me manage Ruby & Millie (being a big fan of the brand and having loved cosmetics all of my life) meant I found myself entering the world of beauty.

I clung on to my fashion clients and ran them side by side for a while, but before long we were approached by more and more beauty brands and I was faced with the decision to either choose fashion or beauty. My Director had to literally peel my fingers off the Jade Jagger press folder, but by that point we represented Ruby & Millie, SKII Skincare, Helmut Lang Fragrances and Agua Spa so I had to make a choice. Even though I had always been obsessed with beauty products, I was nervous that beauty wouldn’t be as glamorous as fashion – something I now know to be a crazy thought.

A large influence on my decision to move into beauty was the UK’s beauty press. I quickly developed great relationships with the beauty journalists; they were such great girls (and very cool!) and a lot of them became good friends who I spent a lot of time socialising with outside of work. The same goes for Ruby Hammer and Millie Kendall, two creative, dynamic, chic girls running an amazing cosmetics company. I knew then that this was the industry for me, and my fear of beauty being a world of perma tans, twin sets and pearls had vanished.

What made you want to work in PR?

I was doing my A-Levels and deciding what I wanted to study at university. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just wanted to be a TV presenter (which is hilarious as public speaking is not exactly my favourite part of my job!) when my father suggested PR. I didn’t really know what it was apart from ‘being good with people’ but trusted my Dad who I knew, knew me inside out, so applied to various PR courses across the country.

How did the reality of PR compare to your expectations?

I didn’t have huge expectations to be honest. I was a little alarmed when I started my PR course and found myself listening to lectures about crisis management for oil companies or airlines. It wasn’t the glamorous world I had hoped it would be, so I decided to move onto a more creative course, Fashion Promotion, which was basically fashion PR, styling, photography, advertising and graphics which was right up my street. It was this course that made me realise exactly what I wanted to do and which world I wanted to live/work in.

When I started working in PR it was even more exciting than I had imagined, it was so much more creative than I thought it would be, and I loved that. I looked forward to going to work every day, never knowing what may happen, who I was going to meet and what new exciting opportunity I could discover for my clients.

How did you find the transition from being employed to self employed?

I think you have to be a certain type of person to set up a business where you don’t have anyone checking up on you; you have to be 100% dedicated and focussed and very driven. To be honest I didn’t find that side of the transition hard. I loved the challenge and learning about the business side of running your own agency.

I had run the beauty division at Purple for many years, then moved to Estee Lauder which was like my finishing school, the Harvard of the beauty industry – a fantastic company and I learnt a lot about business, and came out of it with a far more commercial view and understanding of the industry. The combination of my experience at Purple and Estee Lauder (two very different companies each equally as valuable in shaping my PR vision) meant I felt ready to open a PR company that fused my experiences both agency and client side, which would bring the best of both worlds to my clients.

The fact that I have Exposure behind me at Beauty Seen means that not only do I have the support of two of the people I admire most in the industry (CEO’s Raoul Shah and Tim Bourne) but I also get to work with their Chief Financial Officer, James Burgon who has been my godsend. I always say to my friends who may have difficulties running their own agencies that without James things would be different. A great financial/legal brain is an essential part of making a company a success in my mind! It also frees my mind up to do what I love – the PR!   
"I make sure we have a killer team"

How did you make Beauty Seen PR as successful as it is today?
Bottom line is hard work…and lots of it. Having a clear vision. Making sure we have a killer team. There are 15 of us now at Beauty Seen and I can honestly say each and every one of them brings something unique and special to the company. Only working with brands we really believe in. Loving what we do, which is very important and what kept me going during the early years. Having a true passion for what we do is essential.

Another big change and positive move for Beauty Seen was my decision to take on a business partner. Michelle Boon joined me as Joint Managing Director in November 2010, just after our 3rd anniversary. I decided in order to grow the company I needed a business partner, it was getting too much on my own and Michelle was the obvious choice seeing as she has been a close friend for the past ten years, and also has an amazing reputation in the industry, having achieved outstanding results as the European PR Director for Revlon. This means we can now take the agency to the next level without spreading ourselves too thinly, which is very exciting indeed, and for me, having someone to share that with is great.  

There are a million beauty PR companies around – how do you make yours stand out?

We have very high standards, we choose fantastic girls to work in the agency who have the same passion, work ethic and enthusiasm, we work very hard and love what we do and I think everyone can see that. We always try and offer something different, to stay relevant, to offer new ideas and collaborations regularly and to live and breathe our brands. For example our events division, Beauty Seen Backstage brings a lot of opportunities to our clients; we create spa concepts backstage at high profile events such as The BRIT Awards, MTV EMA’s, MOBO’s and some of the UK’s leading festivals which provides either consumer facing activity or celebrity seeding opportunities.

What are your top tips for getting into beauty PR?
If you have the opportunity to complete a work placement within a PR company, this is the best way to get your foot in the door, to make an impression and make some extremely valuable contacts as well as getting a feel for whether this is the right industry for you. I know this is limited to whether you can afford to work on a small salary, but I personally worked evenings and weekends so I could afford to complete a placement that I knew would be valuable to my career and it paid off as I was offered a job. Five of our employees started as interns with either Beauty Seen, or with friends in-house, who recommended them to us and a CV with experience is a lot more attractive to prospective employers. 

What’s the best job application you have ever seen?
I had one girl (girl A) contact me telling me exactly why she wanted to work at Beauty Seen, it was well thought out and made me want to meet her instantly as she was obviously so passionate about the agency. When I interviewed her she didn’t quite have the right press contacts for the position, so I fed this back to her when I let her know that she didn’t get the job. Next time we were recruiting an emailed popped up from girl A requesting another interview. During the interview she was keen to show me how she had listened to my advice and built up some very impressive press contacts in the six months that had passed. I was so impressed that she had listened to the advice and acted on it, and for her obvious passion for the agency… she got the job.

And the worst?

One girl sent her CV with an airbrushed, and I kid you not, wind machine posed photo of her on the front. It instantly went into the bin.

If you had to do it all again, is there anything you would change?
I would have taken a risk and employed a great Account Manager straight away. I am not sure I could ever go through what I went through opening the company again. I left Estee Lauder on the Friday and opened Beauty Seen on the Monday. I opened an empty laptop with nothing on it, no filing systems, no documents, nothing. I had four clients from day one - Ruby & Millie, Cowshed, Paul Labreque Luxury Hair Care and BRITs Spa with just myself and an intern to manage every single editorial placement/request/mail out/send out/price request/reports/image requests/press appointments/press days, as well as setting up/running the company, new business pitches, budgets, forecasting etc. I have no idea how I did it. I was existing on around 5 hours sleep a night, sometimes less, for the first year and a half. I aged about 10 years during this time! Three and a half years on there are 15 of us, thank goodness!
"I was existing on around 5 hours sleep a night, sometimes less, for the first year and a half"

Who inspires you?
Lots of people inspire me; friends, family, my business partner, but the people in the industry who have inspired me the most would have to be Ruby Hammer and Millie Kendall (co-founders of Ruby & Millie and Hammer & Kendall) who are both such amazing women, so creative, inspiring, hardworking and strong but still manage to keep the human side of their personalities, warm, caring and real. Both girls have inspired me time and time again while working and socialising with them over the past 12 years. Great girls.

Visit http://www.beautyseenpr.com/