Last month, Olapic’s CMO, Rachel Meranus, had the pleasure of interviewing Mila Mendez, E-Commerce and Digital Marketing Executive at beauty brand Laura Geller, for WWD’s Digital Beauty Summit. For over 20 years, Laura Geller has grown from a relatively unknown brand on QVC to a must-have staple in any person’s makeup bag. With an emphasis on authenticity and a belief that makeup should be uncomplicated and mistake-proof, the brand has carved out a strong position in a crowded industry.
For those who may have missed the summit, we followed up with Mila to learn more about Laura Geller’s digital approach and how user-generated content has become a part of the brand’s marketing strategy. Check out our interview to pick up a few tips below!
In the beauty industry, there is an emerging emphasis on “authenticity.” What does that term mean to you and how does Laura Geller integrate it into its marketing experiences?
In brand marketing, you have very few chances to connect with and express your ultimate brand truth to your desired audience. We have one chance to explore our brand purpose, and we should dedicate ourselves to doing so effectively. At Laura Geller, we’re trying to share and emulate that message within our marketing experiences. We’re embracing our message of beauty and sharing this philosophy across all of our communication channels.
What customer trends have you observed that you expect to drive the next few years in digital marketing?
Are there any trends that have been surprising to you? Consumers in the beauty and color cosmetics sector have increased their demand for product demonstrations in the digital space, enabled by technology and direct access to brands via social media. Customers are also much more vocal about wanting to see real results and will call out any brand if its product is not ‘as advertised’.
The ownership of brand messaging is no longer solely in the hands of the brand itself. Another surprising trend is the pace of growth for new ‘indie’ brands, alongside the old industry heavyweights, which have together brought new trends into the market.
How have you seen user-generated, or “earned,” content help build relationships with your audience?
About year ago, at Laura Geller we made a conscious decision to fully embrace UGC for two main reasons: 1. It generates much-needed content with a low entry fee and 2. It absolutely helps build relationships with our audience as they see themselves directly in our communications, and as a result become truly part of the brand and not just impartial observers.
Which strategies have you used to engage younger generations, specifically millennials and gen-z?
In the last year, we have engaged and participated in targeted makeup and beauty events, collaborated with relevant social influencers and publications, and created and showcased content specifically designed for these demographics. We continue to execute these strategies in an effort to connect with this particular audience, and we distribute our content across social platforms to meet them where they prefer to engage.
What are a couple of your favorite marketing initiatives or campaigns Laura Geller has executed in the past year?
Why were they successful? My favorite campaign was our December 24-hour QVC special value event. Where, in a five-day lead up and on the day of the event, we were able to fully focus all of our digital efforts to driving engagement, viewership, and sales toward that channel. We were also the first brand to bring a top male influencer on air to assist in a product demo and how-to, while simultaneously streaming on Facebook Live.
What is one bold prediction you have for the digital marketing industry in the next few years and how do you think it might affect the beauty space?
Consumer expectations will continue to evolve faster than brands can keep up with, and tech companies will directly influence them with development of new and different products such as voice devices (i.e. Amazon’s Alexa), AI, fulfillment, apps, and more.
As such, brand recognition and discovery will be even harder, because with these devices in place the brand itself becomes much less important than the customer’s need. or example, if a customer tells Alexa, “Please re-order some face wipes,” versus “I want ‘fill-in-the-blank’ brand specific wipes.”
Price will be key, and speed-to-market innovation even more important. I predict beauty conglomerates will continue to buy indie brands in order to keep up with innovation, and former third-party vendors will become the main brand makers — collaborating with influencers and even consumers, directly. Lastly, the pendulum seems to be swinging into direction of skincare again and makeup might take second place soon in market share.
More and more, we’ve been reading about the “content commerce” model. But the skill set to produce engaging, authentic content is quite different from what’s required for commerce success. What are your thoughts on this?
This is directly tied to my previous point about today’s consumers requiring more info and demos about the products. Brands need to shift their dollars towards content production or risk losing share and engagement. Today, I believe it’s smarter to produce 100 cheap how-to videos for every single product than to just buy any form of advertising. Ideally, you should be doing both to create a good mix of the two, but, truly, without good content in the right channels, your brand is non-existent.
What are a few ways in which brands can better involve customers in their marketing programs?
The use of UGC in key customer communications or digital journeys is relatively inexpensive and easy, so this is worth investing in. Also, opening ways to communicate directly with the customers is key! Your customers want to have access to your brand, and need it to be easy for them to engage. Brands can then take those conversations, and even the content customers’ produce, and integrate it into all forms of marketing programs.
Fun question: What’s your favorite Instagram account to follow and why?
Tough one as there is so many amazing ones but my top three are: @drawbertson, @_idiotics and @1924us