‘Relationship commerce’ the future of beauty – Revieve CEO

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Building lasting and meaningful relationships with consumers via an array of digital tools will enable industry plug true needs and expectations [Getty Images]
Building lasting and meaningful relationships with consumers via an array of digital tools will enable industry plug true needs and expectations [Getty Images]

Related tags beauty tech data beauty 4.0 digital e-commerce Artificial intelligence Skin care beauty retail shopper habits online

Beauty brands and retailers must invest in continuous relationship building with consumers via personalised, algorithmically orchestrated digital experiences across every step of the shopper journey, says the CEO of Finnish tech firm Revieve.

Last month, Revieve released its ‘Augmenting the Beauty Consumer Journey in 2023’​ report outlining key consumer skin concerns in 2022 based on user engagement with its AI Skincare Advisor tool online. Used by more than four million users last year via beauty brand pages and online retailers across 40 countries, findings showed wrinkles and fine lines were the top two skin care concerns for males and females worldwide.

CosmeticsDesign-Europe caught up with Revieve CEO Sampo Parkkinen to find out what these findings meant for industry and how digital insights could help shape innovation efforts in 2023.

‘Meaningful’ beauty is about driving data into assistance

“With meaningful customer data, brands and retailers can now identify their consumers’ concerns, put in place the necessary product and merchandising strategies to address them, and invest massively in experience that will provide meaningful assistance across the customer journey,” Parkkinen said.

Many leading beauty brands and retailers had already started taking this “customer data-first strategy”, he said, and a growing number of companies were also developing more “value-driven personalisation” which was great.

Looking ahead, he said the wider beauty goal had to be to support zero- and first-party data collection – done responsibly with consent and protection – to augment personalised experiences and commerce in the future, encouraging “true multichannel consumer engagement”.

And this had to be done with the understanding that beauty shoppers were engaging online and offline in a very fluid way, Parkkinen said.

The online-offline beauty retail blur

The rise of phygital – the blur of digital and physical retail – had been building fast in beauty in recent years, and the CEO said these two spaces had to feel connected.

“The customer experience online and in-store must feel like an extension of the others. Customers don’t shop through one channel. Instead, they may research products, engage with a brand on one channel, and then purchase through another.”

So, instead of pushing a preference for online or offline, he said beauty businesses had to “merge both worlds”.

On the online side, he said engagement could be strengthened via personalised digital experiences, flexible payment options and on-demand deliveries, for example, allowing consumers to “experience commerce without limits”.

“For consumers, the benefit is enjoying an experience so personalised that customers will feel that any action they do with that retailer was almost tailor-made for them. In turn, that will build preference and loyalty from the customer’s side.”

Building the future in ‘relationship commerce’

Parkkinen said all of this could be achieved by taking a “relationship commerce” approach.

“[Relationship commerce] is a business philosophy emphasising continuous relationship building with customers to drive increased loyalty, leading to recurring revenue and higher customer lifetime value,” he said. “Rather than just focusing purely on the singular moment of transaction, relationship commerce strategies foster long-term loyalty by providing personalised, algorithmically orchestrated digital experiences at every step of then customer journey.”

And this strategy, which allowed for “additional learning” about consumers and thus “deeply personal” offerings, he said, was the future of beauty.

“Relationships drive long-lasting, sustainable value that’s timeless. Listening to what the consumer tells us implicitly and explicitly allows brands to create moments of delight insight, outside and alongside then core customer journey.”

Building out a relationship commerce strategy, however, took time, Parkkinen said. Beauty brands and retailers, therefore, had to treat these relationships as investments. “As with every other investment, they take time to cultivate and to mature before seeing meaningful results. Relationships can’t be built in sporadic spurts; they require steady attention and intention to grow. They require regular maintenance and flourish when both sides share the same levels of commitment, honesty and transparency.” 

Mass versus prestige beauty relationships

Asked if there were different approaches in building out a relationship commerce approach for mass versus prestige beauty, Parkkinen said: “No matter whether it is mass or prestige, the focus should be on customers rather than products. That generally means that beauty brands should prioritise building meaningful relationships with customers, understand their pain points, while building loyalty.”

The goal for any brand – mass or prestige – ought to be customer acquisition and retention, he said, which was very different to just promoting products or innovation.

“In luxury beauty particularly, it’s no longer about the product, it’s about the experience. It’s about a menu of options for the customer – be it events that are online or in-store, services, free or paid, or expert advice,” he said.

Results from Revieve’s data, Parkkinen said, indicated that beauty tech played a crucial role in “helping customers experience beauty more meaningfully” and so offered useful tools to build relationship commerce strategies.

“…With the help of AI and digital solutions, beauty companies can empower consumers to understand their skin better, find what they are looking for, and revolutionise how they shop for beauty products by making them more personal, seamless, and engaging,” he said.

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