Like the rest of us, I’ve been extremely busy this past few weeks trying to make sense of the New (Coronavirus) World Order. I’ve had days that have been rendered virtually useless because of anxiety, but then I’ve had others that have been much, much better. Those are the days when I’ve gotten out of my own muddled head, plunked myself in front of my computer monitor and attended one of the many excellent free webinars the beauty industry has recently been doling out like perfume samples.
- I’ve watched the founders of Glow Recipe, a millennial and Gen Z-beloved “fruit-powered” skincare brand, discuss tailoring content to their “Glow Gang” during the pandemic.
- I’ve watched Allure magazine founder and Flesh Beauty architect Linda Wells describe what she thinks brands, as well as newly minted job-seekers, need today to cut through the clutter of a vastly oversaturated market.
- I’ve watched red-hot “surf beauty brand” Tower 28 introduce its new crème bronzer via a demonstration by Instagram-superstar makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes.
- I’ve watched filmmaker Phyllis Ellis explain the rationale for her devastating new documentary “Toxic Beauty,” a rallying cry for ridding cosmetics of egregious ingredients.
- I’ve watched dermatologist Orit Markowitz describe fascinating – and possibly lifesaving – new home-detection strategies for helping patients spot possible melanomas and other skin cancers during this time in which we’re forgoing annual checkups.
For the membership-driven industry organization CEW, which hosted two of the webinars listed above, the pandemic has caused a swift shift away from its typical focus – live speaker events. “CEW has a global membership of more than 10,000, and they look to us for industry information,” says president Carlotta Jacobson. “When the current environment prevented us from hosting our signature speaker events, we pivoted to bring important and timely business to our community through webinars. We shifted from executing approximately six webinars annually to hosting an average of six per month. Additionally, given the business climate, we provided access to our webinars as a free resource to both members and non-members.”
Our goal for the online presentation was to demonstrate how to be digitally savvy when those IRL – ‘in real life’ – touchpoints have been removed for a business.
Not surprisingly, many are taking CEW up on its generous offer. “Over the last month, we have seen a tremendous interest, with webinar registrations increasing by more than 700 percent,” says Jacobson. “As an organization, CEW is proud to be able to support our industry by providing critical information during this challenging time.”
A Win-Win for Everyone
For its CEW webinar “How To Be A Digital-First Brand In Current Times,” Glow Recipe co-founders and co-CEOs Christine Chang and Sarah Lee made it their mission to be utterly transparent about how they were shifting their social media strategy to meet the challenges wrought by the pandemic. “We understood that this was an unprecedented time that brands, retailers, entrepreneurs and content creators were all collectively going through and wanted to be an informational resource,” says Chang.
As an exceptionally nimble and forward-thinking indie, Glow Recipe had immediately activated strategies to fill the void of shuttered retail outlets, and this is what they set out to share with webinar attendees. “Our goal for the presentation was to demonstrate how to be digitally savvy when those IRL – ‘in real life’ – touchpoints have been removed for a business,” notes Lee. “As a beauty brand with a brick and mortar presence, it definitely had an impact industry-wide when stores closed due to the pandemic. We were fortunate to have the digital capabilities to quickly pivot our strategy and implement ideas across all platforms. We understood other brands might be in the same position, so we wanted to provide some inspiration for others to pull from.”
If there have been any silver linings to the past few months, it’s this open sharing of information, support and monetary outlay in the form of donated dollars and product, i.e., hand sanitizer and care packages for frontline healthcare workers. I’ve never been more proud of the beauty biz.
Five Webinars, Ten Takeaways
I do the “chair time” so you don’t have to. Below are actionable nuggets extracted from each of the webinars cited above. While the first eight are business-oriented, the last two are gentle nudges to continue to take care of ourselves while we’re distracted by the crisis around us.
From Glow Recipe:
1. Don’t know what kind of content to produce right now? Ask your customer. To determine what its “Glow Gang” wanted to see during the pandemic, Glow Recipe straight up asked them. They also initiated “Glow Gang Digital Pen Pals” so members could support each other during the crisis and have expanded their range of social media platforms to include TikTok, Gen Z’s preferred virtual time-suck.
2. Video consultations are the next-level D2C way to sell product. On April 7, Glow Recipe introduced video consultations with trained staff, and booked 50 appointments that same day. In lieu of an actual salesperson in a store, Glow Recipe experts can provide real one-on-one advice. And connecting with someone on-screen beats the pants off typing into one of those annoying Customer Service chat boxes.
From Linda Wells:
3. Wellness and beauty are united more than ever now. To survive and thrive, beauty brands need to seriously tap into the “how will this make me feel better” movement. Not that it should be forced; sometimes a lipstick is just a lipstick. But if there were ever a time to branch out into products that alleviate stress and boost well-being, it’s now.
4. If you’re in the market for a new job, work it hard on Instagram. Got your heart set on working for a particular brand or company? Follow it on Instagram and be generous with likes and comments. While Wells’ advice might sound like it applies mainly to digital natives who basically live on Instagram, this is something every job-seeker can do. Also: make sure your own Instagram is culturally relevant and lively.
From Tower 28:
5. A tiny, focused origin story can be utterly relatable. Tower 28 is named for an actual, existing lifeguard tower in Santa Monica that served as a key hangout spot for CEO and founder Amy Liu as a California teen. For Liu, a life-long sufferer of eczema, the moniker connotes safety, “clean living” and the eternal awesomeness of the beach in summer.
6. “Buildable” textures and bright, poppy colors are a Gen Z fan fave. Youngsters love a no-tool-necessary product they can tuck in their pocket alongside their phone, and they’re super-fans of sheer washes of almost-neon hues. If “sheer washes of almost-neon hues” sounds contradictory, that’s kids for you.
From Phyllis Ellis:
7. “Big Beauty” is the new “Big Tobacco.” As word of the “Toxic Beauty” documentary gets out – and it was just released on the Starz network, so that’s about to happen – expect major fallout, and a demand for stepped-up brand accountability.
8. If you haven’t done so already, clean up your product act. Now that consumers are getting ever more vigilant watchdogs of their health, they’re becoming increasingly savvy to the beauty industry’s penchant for gaslighting. The nebulous word “fragrance” on a label, for example, can shield 100+ ingredients, some of which are, yes, toxic.
From Orit Markowitz, MD:
9. Skin cancer doesn’t brake for coronaviruses. When brands, retailers and supporting actors such as PR and marketing firms are struggling to weather the coming financial apocalypse, it’s all too easy for the people attached to them to blow off a tiny new mole or a suspect patch of scaly skin. Don’t. Savvy derms like New York City-based Orit Markowitz, who serves as Director of Pigmented Lesions and Skin Cancer at Mount Sinai, are beginning to offer lighted scopes that can be attached to your iPhone so you can take an accurate picture of anything suspicious and send it to your doc. There’s also a new type of tape that can pick up the top layers of cells on moles, which can then be sent to a lab, Finally, video consultations can also stand-in for a live visit. If you can’t get in to see your skin specialist, please avail yourself of all of this new technology.
10. Building an arsenal of home health-monitoring devices is beyond smart. Now that the pandemic horse is out of the barn, and we may be met with other similar health catastrophes in the future, pro-activity is the new way forward for protecting ourselves. Get comfortable with the arsenal of new home gadgets and gizmos flooding the market now.