Up-and-coming brands can ride the feed-surfing trend and tap into discovery commerce, says UM’s Lawrence Dodds.

The stakes are high for beauty and personal care brands tapping into social commerce. A combination of algorithms, clever content and the right touch points will put them on the radar of key tech-savvy audiences and meet consumers’ new shopping expectations: discovering and purchasing from a smartphone in a few clicks.

Brands that shift budgets from store shelves to scroll feeds are on the money, but competition is fierce. The biggest players in beauty and personal care are investing heavily in digital teams and advancing their capabilities so that they can react to trends across different platforms, build content that beats algorithms and simplify every purchase for shoppers.

It’s become evident that feed-surfing now presents one of the biggest opportunities for discovery commerce: to tell a story, start a relationship with target audiences who share the same values and then drive quick sales. Even better, it doesn’t rely on high-priced eye-level shelf space.

How can beauty brands win through feed-surfing?

Big conglomerates such as L’Oréal ramped up their digital transformation strategy in the pandemic. The French giant now allows shoppers to buy directly from TikTok, while Pinterest works with premium beauty brands so that consumers can virtually try on eyeshadow and lipstick with AR.

Clearly, social commerce presents an opportunity that beauty brands are willing to invest heavily in. But emerging brands that want to win in this space will need to be just as reactive as they are proactive.

They can do this by looking at what’s trending and keeping an eye on the zeitgeist. The entire customer journey, everything from in-store hauls to unboxing videos based around opening a home delivery package, has become a stage for popular pockets of content that inspire consumers.

The commercial benefit is that it brings organic awareness to products. Brands should exploit these trends with social commerce innovations, such as livestream shopping, to mesh the content that target consumers already love with a frictionless transaction.

Legacy brands like Dove have also reacted to key calendar dates such as Earth Day to show they are ethical through short-form videos on TikTok – in Dove’s case, promoting its refill bottles alongside beauty influencers.

Dove has traditionally been able to rely on just its logo to drive in-store sales, but showing its values in a shopping aisle can be challenging. Feed-surfing presents an opportunity for all brands to do just this, and taking advantage of these key dates will widen the pool of those who see it.

The smartest beauty and personal care brands will take full advantage of social platforms to build awareness of their brand stories with the right consumers, and then make a purchase feel as seamless as consumers have come to expect.

A new opportunity for personalisation

Personalisation is the topic on every brand’s lips as the world of cookies comes to an end – and shoppers in beauty and personal care want it, but only if done correctly.

The big challenge for brands is that social platforms are walled gardens. They have to consider alternative workarounds to collect data and then feed this into other social channels.

There are plenty of opportunities to do this. Traditional websites, brick and mortar stores, and even order fulfilment are data opportunities that can build a customer profile to then effectively retarget them. But brands would be wise to take this a step further: integrating into CRM to gradually build a richer picture of their customers. The next challenge here will be building a CRM approach that drives value and increases purchase frequency.

Connecting all of these dots will help brands target consumers on their social accounts with content they enjoy and products they already know would benefit them. Brands can also use calendar dates – like Earth Day – to target consumers with the same values.

Feed-surfing is an unmissable opportunity to get on the radar of the right audiences and to build long-term relationships, but brands need a very clear strategy. Understanding what content target audiences enjoy – through data and staying reactive to emerging trends – is key to quickly grabbing attention in spaces where a consumer can simply scroll to a competitor’s post.

Get this right, and fast-growing beauty and personal care brands will find themselves in the same feeds and recommendations as more established competitors. This will give them the space to share unique values and qualities in a more engaging way than they could in an in-store setting, which could lead to greater long-term customer loyalty.