Consumer Reviews Fill The Product Tester Gap In The Beauty Shopping Journey

As beauty retailers begin to reopen, consumers will find a signature part of their store experience missing – communal product testers. Ulta and Sephora announced product testers will be for display only, while Blue Mercury relayed that customers will be given vacuum-sealed samples. Testers have long been a staple of the beauty user journey. Shoppers, brands and retailers rely on these displays to drive conversions or educate consumers about their product line. With testers no longer being available, consumers are spending more time online, looking for information to determine their next skincare purchase. The most valuable content in the user journey is now consumer reviews. Beauty brands and retailers should place extra focus on generating authentic, genuine reviews for their product content to win in the increasingly competitive digital beauty landscape.

Review-Based Content Creates Powerful Feedback Loops For Beauty Brands

Acting as the new product tester, review-based content generates feedback loops that create winner-take-all effects in search. This type of content pays off big for newer brands like Drunk Elephant and established brands like Olay. According to DLG, a digital agency based in Geneva, consumer interest in “marula oil” has grown by 88% since 2016. When searching for the ingredient, Drunk Elephant’s product page for its Virgin Marula Antioxidant Face Oil on ranks first in organic search results, beating out beauty authorities like Allure. In addition to keywords, the product’s content is powered by a review count of 1,400+ and continues to grow daily. Few other products with marula oil come close. Shoppers looking for help with “anti-aging” will be first served content on Olay’s Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, which has a whopping 34,000+ reviews. Online shoppers are encouraged to click on the highly reviewed content, thus creating a positive feedback loop that tells search algorithms it served the right content and should do so in the future. Consequently, it will be difficult to dethrone Drunk Elephant from winning “marula oil” and Olay for “anti-aging” searches as their consumer reviews have created winning feedback loops for these products.

Luckily, the search for the fountain of youth fosters innovation in new ingredients and products. In the post-COVID-19 world, beauty brands launching new products must publish content on owned and retailer platforms that encourage reviews to replace the loss of the product tester. Reviews on this content will generate powerful feedback loops needed to win in search. Skincare’s next star ingredient is bakuchiol, a plant-based alternative to retinol. Searches for this ingredient have exploded (by 2,799%) since 2016 and products with it are starting to enter the market. Currently, Herbivore’s Bakuchiol Serum has the strongest review-based content feedback loop, but with only 140 reviews it is really anyone’s race. Beauty brands and retailers looking to win the digital content pageant will find success by implementing a rapid-response eCommerce strategy.

Contributed by: Marie Burns, Senior Director Business Strategy and Planning, Integer Dallas

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