Beauty Marketers Discuss 3 Ways the Industry Is Changing Amid Covid-19

Representatives from Estée Lauder, e.l.f. Cosmetics and Ulta Beauty talk industry trends and social change

Screenshot of virtual event
Jodie Kennedy, director of CPG at Snap, Inc., led a conversation about the shifting beauty industry. Adweek

Like most other industries, the world of beauty has been hit hard during the pandemic. With temporary store closures and consumers sheltering in place, cosmetic giants such as L’Oréal and Estée Lauder have reported a drop in sales. Even Johnson & Johnson, which owns skin care brands Neutrogena and Aveeno, recently noted that demand for its beauty products has declined since the outbreak of Covid-19.

In light of the new landscape, marketers from Estée Lauder, e.l.f. Cosmetics and Ulta Beauty discussed three ways their industry is adapting to the current moment during today’s live virtual event Facing the Future, Together, hosted by Snapchat in partnership with Adweek.

All about the customer

How and why people shop is rapidly changing, and brands need to stay ahead of the trends.

“Over the next 12 months and beyond, we’re going to see an aggressive acceleration of consumer-centricity brands, putting the consumer at the center of everything that they do,” said Damon Burrell, svp of global corporate marketing at the Estée Lauder Companies.

Burrell noted that his company is continuing to invest and leverage tools that allow them to better listen to their consumers, so they can create real-time insights.

“We’re laser focused on how our consumers are feeling now, what their needs are today and how their behaviors are changing,” he said.

No more hiding values

With social change in the air, brands can no longer stand on the sideline.

“Consumer behavior has changed forever,” said Christine White, director of social and content marketing at Ulta Beauty. “So, we’re not going back to normal; we’re moving forward.”

Examples of this include brands showing their true purpose, from their supply chain to their advertising to their hiring practices.

“It’s definitely pushing the boundaries of what brands need to be,” said White, “but I think it’s helping brands to really dig deep and understand that authenticity, transparency [and] accessibility are going to be the things that are ultimately going to help brands and the industry really weather this in true fashion.”

Beauty goes online

While there might have been some hesitancy around buying makeup on the web, that pause is quickly fading.

“Those folks that had a prior notion around not buying beauty over the Internet, that myth has been completely busted,” said Kory Marchisotto, CMO at e.l.f. Cosmetics. “They’ve seen the ease, the convenience, the ways in which this can better service their needs and give them the instant gratification that they’re looking for in a difficult moment when most people are sheltering in place. And I think we’re going to continue to see technology be at the forefront.”

In recent months, multiple brands have leaned into AR try-on technology, allowing customers to sample various products at a rapid pace. Usage rates have exploded, giving customers a chance to experiment from the comfort, and safety, of their homes.

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@hiebertpaul Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.