In a previous article, we reviewed the multi-channel beauty retail pioneer, Douglas GmbH. In this, the second of three articles we turn our attention to strategies for niche ethical beauty retailing.
The Body Shop has been referred to as the second largest cosmetics brand across the globe, with a mainly skincare product offering. Its market position is environment-friendly, the competitive advantage is nature-based products and brand values with a mid-range price position.
In 2006 L’Oréal bought The Body Shop for £652m, in September 2017 it sold the brand to the Brazilian company Natura Cosméticos for £880m.
After The Body Shop encountered an enormous sales performance decline, due to the economic downturn in 2010, it set about a process of renewal.
Because of the economic recession, consumers of body care products became price-sensitive and moved away from the brand. Concurrently, more and more cosmetic brands had entered the niche market with lower prices. The Body Shop was facing a perfect storm.
By assessing their customer base and brand strategy, The Body Shop decided to reinvent itself, its beauty credentials and product innovation.
The Board of Director took the initiative and decided to plan a re-branding and positioning of the company for launch in 2012.
A focus was placed on repositioning the brand to widen the consumer audience. This included the millennial generation, men and mature women. The aim of the brand strategy was to cut through the retail and media noise surrounding the brand. It would be the start of a beauty movement called “Beauty with Heart” which later evolved into a new banner with values expressed by the company during the 1980's.
Here are a few strategic imperatives considered by the management team: 1. Create a marketing strategy which will develop visibility, refresh of the brand to appeal to a wider target audience and reinforce non-animal testing and the company's eco-friendly suppliers. 2. Improve online social media content and marketing starting with video at the forefront of social media campaigns, on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest to target the 65% of its customers that are under 35 years.
These initiatives had to support the company’s commitment to its consistent ethical values, from which brand loyalty had been built upon since its formation by Anita Roddick in 1976. All of this now sits under the banner of a new ‘Enrich Not Exploit’ philosophy.
According to customer research, 64% of their loyal shoppers are ready to pay more for an ethical product. The comparable figure is only 45% for less regular customers, while 83% are more likely to choose retailers that take social and environmental issues seriously.
We think the brand identity and the store design and product proposition is fresh, innovative, easy to understand and navigate. The point of sale ethical promotions are informative and engage customers at the point of purchase. The overall impression of the store design is a feeling of ethics, honesty, diversity and vitality.
The website is perhaps the weakest link in the delivery of a cross-platform omnichannel strategy. The visual impression of the online brand toolkit is of a wooden lifestyle photographic format without a visual thread to confirm the unique aspects of the consumer offering. Compared to the themed visual merchandising of the in-store experience, we feel it falls short of consumer expectations. Overall, the site feels clunky, lacking in animation, imagination and the vitality you expect from a well respected ethical niche retailer.
A strong sustainability message won’t bear fruit if you don’t get the product, price, promotion, place, people and a cross-platform omnichannel strategy right.
Our internal process of renewal encourages us to continually benchmark and write about the best in class retail brands in many market sectors across the globe.
The photographs in this article have been taken from the web and are representative of our thoughts and views concerning multi-channel beauty retailing.
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