Valued at $579 billion, the beauty industry has scaled dramatically over the last decade, becoming more innovative and trend-focused, with many brands finding unique ways to own the customer journey. With an immeasurable number of categories falling under the umbrella of “beauty” and large established retailers wanting a piece of the cosmetic pie, there are more players in the game than ever before.
The rapidly growing industry has been made successful by high purchase frequency and high margins, but also the growing sense of community, making beauty increasingly less intimidating and more inviting. According to Adweek, “85% of shoppers trust UGC over any branded or influencer content.” These three things alone make loyalty and the beauty industry an essential combination. Loyalty is a surefire way to put you ahead of your competition, jumpstart or strengthen your brand community, and increase customer lifetime value.
Here are 5 ways to successfully build loyalty for your beauty brand.
1. Tell customers who you are
Although many consumers are loyal to products, they can also be loyal to your brand. The key is to establish a strong brand identity that is appealing and caters to your desired audience.
Ulta is one of the largest and most successful beauty brands in the world. It’s defined itself as a one-stop shop for all things beauty. Honest Beauty, on the other hand, exclusively sells its own line and markets its brand as clean beauty to appeal to consumers who value products that are ethically sourced and free of toxic ingredients. Whatever your brand’s branding strategy is, have it be identifiable as quickly as possible so customers know exactly what you offer.
The Balm’s social media tells customers exactly what it’s all about. Its product imagery and messaging are full of a plethora of puns coupled with colorful comic book-like packaging that’s eye-catching and unique to its brand. Each product resembles a collector's item and the designs work together to tell a story.
It immediately introduces the rewards program it offers while simultaneously inviting you to join #theBalmers through a rewards program launcher visible on every page of its website. For many brands like The Balm, its reward program members are the core of its customer base and beauty community.
If you’re clear about your brand vision and ensure this is cohesive with your rewards program, it will help streamline the process of transforming a new customer into a loyal member of your beauty community. When a customer connects with your story, purpose, and core brand values, it increases the likelihood of them shopping with you again.
2. Build and nurture your beauty community
Sephora runs one of the most successful rewards programs in the industry resulting in one of the strongest beauty communities. Its Beauty Insider program has three tiers consisting of beauty insiders, VIB, and Rouge members. Naming your rewards community is key to creating a sense of immediate engagement, and it makes your customers feel like they are instantly a part of something bigger, and then you can get the community going.
Create a constant forum for communication
In the age of social media, a potential customer can discover you on many online channels. Keeping up to date on your social media platforms and using them to be loud about your brand community is a great way to encourage interaction among your customer base and will help create a tight-knit community that will increase customer loyalty.
With 21.7 million followers on Instagram, Sephora uses its platform to interact with its community and encourages them to interact with one another. It also makes sure to keep all its social platforms consistent with relevant information including details on sales, promotions, and events designed exclusively for its rewards program members.
Bringing them in on the process
Leveraging your online community to crowdsource new products, get feedback, or show them behind the scenes of your product or brand can build a more meaningful customer-brand relationship.
BYBI, a direct-to-consumer beauty company, has grown by including its customers on its journey. Raising $9.3M over two rounds of funding, BYBI attributes its success to a strong focus on transparency and carefully crafted communication with its customers. Keeping a very open line of communication with its consumers allowed it to set itself apart from other brands by crowdsourcing.
Elsie Rutterford who co-founded the British skincare brand admitted to sourcing products from Instagram comments and trends they noticed within their community. “Instagram helps us identify key trends, whether that be ingredients, an entire category like vitamin C products, or a specific product that’s suddenly all over our feeds,” she shares. Through careful observation, BYBI created two of its best-sellers—the C-Caf Cream and Night Nutrition lotions.
BYBI also monitors its social channels to keep up with customer demands. This Instagram post acknowledges that customers were asking for its Day Defence SPF 30 cream through a variety of comment screenshots. This level of transparency and commitment to your customers builds authenticity and trust with your community.
Beauty communities can become an essential part of a customer’s consumer identity, ultimately strengthening their connection and loyalty to your brand. Find creative ways to engage your beauty community so they maintain a personal desire to see the success of your brand grow!
3. Build trust in your brand with social proof
Building social proof and trust in your brand is especially important for customers who are discovering your brand for the first time. This can be achieved through referrals, a solid online presence, and positive online reviews.
Luckily, referrals are especially prevalent in the beauty industry. With many variations of products that claim to deliver the same results, people turn to their family, friends, and most recently beauty influencers, to find the tried and true products they can trust. Loyalty programs that track referrals fit naturally into this interaction as they reward both parties.
Selecting the right loyalty partner can help identify your most loyal brand advocates by tracking referral traffic and will show you exactly how much revenue you’re generating from referred customers. The above image shows real results from a top Shopify store using Smile.io to power their rewards program.
Social media also plays a huge role in amplifying the message of your brand and your advocates to build trust in your brand. The emergence of beauty trends like cloud skin, bold lips, and extensive skincare routines, among others, have influenced consumer purchase habits. These trends have also resulted in some extremely creative marketing efforts from beauty brands on social media. A report shows that 42% of consumers ages 18-24 are inspired by social media when it comes to makeup.
Beauty has made a significant mark on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok solidifying the need for a strong, credible online presence, and reviews are a great way to achieve this.
Reviews create dialogue between brand and consumer, increase engagement, and improve your online presence. A product with a single positive review can see an increase in conversions of 10%, while 100 positive reviews can lead to a 37% increase.
Incentivize your customers to leave reviews with rewards using a Shopify Smile.io integration like Judge.me, Fera.ai, Reviews.io, and several others. This will benefit your customers through reward points and also allow you to collect useful feedback while building trust in your products and services all at once. Filipino skincare brand Seek Space leverages reviews by offering a generous 5,000 points per review and then goes as far as to display positive reviews right on its homepage for easy discovery and transparency.
In an industry where the competition is intense, ensuring your brand is credible and you’re continually building trust with your customers is essential in bringing in new and returning business!
4. Reward members in different ways
With high purchase frequency and a high referral rate, loyalty is guaranteed to complement and benefit your beauty brand strategy. Combine this with industry margins that are typically between 53% and 58%, you have the budget to invest in loyalty that will more than pay back its dues. Diversifying the way you reward your customers and tracking which rewards are most successful can allow for a more personalized experience that will increase consumer connection to your brand.
Here are a couple of creative ways to reward your loyal customers:
Samples or gifts with purchases are great ways to reward your customers without breaking the bank. It allows them to venture out and try new products with little to no cost to you and creates a low-risk experience for the customer that could result in a future sale. Lustea Beauty offers a 1000 points sign-up bonus and 5 points per dollar spent for its rewards program members. New customers then immediately unlock various rewards like coupons, free shipping, or a wide range of free product samples.
You can be strategic with your gifts and samples! The free Coconut Milk Hair Mask is a well-chosen reward as one of Lustea’s best-selling products. Customers who are new to the brand immediately get the chance to try out one of the most-loved products, increasing the chance that they’ll have a positive experience with the brand and come back for more!
Offering gifts that your loyal customers already love helps demonstrate that you know what your customers value, reinforcing how they value their relationship with you.
Gamified reward tiers
Status is a key motivator in the beauty industry. The desire to achieve an elite status is one of the things that makes Sephora’s Rouge tier so desirable. Not only do you get the bragging rights to say that you’re at the top tier of their customer base but you also unlock better perks and rewards.
Once the top tier is unlocked, maintaining this VIP status by spending a certain amount of money per year or retaining a certain number of points will keep your customers coming back.
Using Smile.io, Sculpted by Aimee achieves the perfect balance of gamified rewards tiers with its Sculpted Rewards. It welcomes members to its rewards program with branded, playful language like “Our thanks to you for choosing us to be a part of your makeup bag.”
The page visually displays what customers stand to gain from each of its VIP tiers—newbie, regular, and VIP, with exclusive experiential rewards like secret offers and the chance to vote on new products reserved for its highest tier. It then outlines the VIP treatment with photos of its customers and explanations of the more unique benefits customers can earn like being a supermodel for a day or VIP customer parties. These types of meaningful communications and rewards coming from a brand can make a huge difference in brand engagement.
Rewarding your customers in the way that they want, with rewards that are worthwhile for them, will help build a strong beauty community, solidify consumer loyalty, and increase interaction with your brand.
5. Get to know your customers and show them your appreciation
Understanding your customers not only helps you achieve a better product-market fit, but it will also help you shape your brand to be successful by adapting to or predicting trends, getting familiar with purchase patterns, and understanding which of your products are gaining the most traction.
One way to better understand your customers is by properly utilizing the insight you gain from your rewards program. Through your loyalty platform, you can easily view all interactions with your rewards program and then make quick and easy changes using the information you gain. With Smile Analytics, you can iterate on new ideas and marketing efforts in real-time.
This can help you understand the decision-making process of your consumers by seeing the patterns of their purchases and what products and rewards they’re most drawn to. Using this you can customize your marketing efforts with more relevant content. The VIP tier of your program is less gratifying if it lacks personalization. Showing your loyal customers that you care, that you understand them, and you’re thankful for their business will make a huge impact on whether or not they return.
Ami Colé is a clean beauty brand founded by a woman of color for women of color. With years of experience working in the makeup industry, Diarrha N’Diaye-Mbaye created what she could never find—a beauty brand that celebrated and truly understood the excellence of melanin-rich skin. On the home page of its site, Ami Colé added a quiz that not only gives it deeper insight into the demographic of its customers but helps customers select the perfect shade of products for their skin tone. Women of color are often thought of as an afterthought in the beauty industry, so Ami Colé flipped the narrative to truly meet the needs of their customers.
Social media and unique marketing strategies allow you to own the customer journey in whatever way you like! There are no limits but your creativity on how to personalize your interactions, humanize the way your business operates, and create a more intimate purchase experience. Taking the steps to get to know your customers and show them your appreciation is the best way to earn their loyalty.
Here’s the loyalty for beauty TL;DR
- Let your customers know who you are.
- Build and nurture your beauty community.
- Build trust in your brand with social proof.
- Reward in several different ways.
- Get to know your customers and show them your appreciation.
At the core of what it is, the beauty industry is there to make you feel good. Use these tips to thank your customers and maximize loyalty and what it can do for your beauty business!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 22, 2020 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on September 22, 2023.