Following World War II, the cosmetics market rapidly expanded by virtue of mass production. Major beauty groups dominated the industry, imposing their products and standards. Today, this is all being challenged by industry newcomers and novel business models, turning established rules upside-down. Traditional brands are now confronted with the successes of DNVBs (Digitally Native Vertical Brands), companies born online that are completely customer-centric and maximize technology use to send their clients personalized offers. The market is gradually moving away from mass production and turning to personalized, nearly “on-demand” production.
Product personalization: a DNVB specialty
DNVBs are digital startups that are masters of the use of social networks and data analysis. Contrary to the “best product fits all” philosophy embraced by traditional brands, DNVBs want to show that the right data now make it possible to offer customers personalized products that perfectly match their needs and desires. For example, the DNVB Seasonly, founded by Fany Péchiodat (also founder of My Little Paris), sends its customers a personalized, “clean and natural” day cream every two months with a formula tailored specifically to not only their skin type, but the season (the cream will be more nourishing in winter, etc.). To receive this cream, only two things are required: being a subscriber and filling out a questionnaire with your detailed information.
This product-personalization strategy is trickier to implement on the lipstick market, primarily due to more intricate formulations, which is why fewer than a dozen brands worldwide have taken on the challenge of personalized lipstick. One of them is Swedish DNVB Ellure, which 3D-prints liquid lipsticks to customer specifications. Canadian brand Bite Beauty offers customers a choice of 200 shades, four finishes, and nine scents so they can create their own “clean,” “vegan,” and “cruelty-free” lipsticks. Should they so desire, customers even have the option of going to the brand’s workshop to create their own shade.
Customization: an economical way to “personalize” your product
Personalizing products is a complex undertaking that presupposes its integration into the brand’s decision-making from the earliest conceptual stages, particularly with regard to supply chain and marketing strategy. Not all brands have the wherewithal to design a personalized product, as it involves substantial work on data analysis and the financial means to match. Instead, they choose Plan B, customization: Consumers are invited to manually make a minor modification to the product, such things as the color of the product or its packaging.
Fundamentally speaking, this changes little for the brand, but allows customers to adapt an existing product to their desires. Many lipstick brands, for example, give customers the option of engraving their first name on the lipstick case. La Bouche Rouge, the indie brand Urban Decay, along with luxury brands like Guerlain and Yves Saint Laurent, have begun this practice to satisfy a clientele that has become increasingly eager for such bespoke pampering.
Personalized packaging: a major DNVB advantage
Packaging is an important part of the consumer experience, even more so for DNVBs, as packaging is their first point of contact with customers. This means that, first and foremost, the packaging must visually work well online, because the actual purchase takes place on the internet. Then, when the customer receives her shipment, the packaging is the brand’s “first impression,” which explains and justifies the efforts to personalize it, along with the attention given the least detail.
For example, Sézane, a digitally native vertical ready-to-wear brand, goes so far as to perfume its packaging and slips little extras inside its “boxes” to win over customers and build loyalty: a personalized thank-you note, a totebag, etc. In a ceaselessly evolving market, new brands are becoming increasingly competitive in the race to find the next ingenious way to personalize an ever-expanding selection of products and packaging, all to better meet customers’ escalating and exacting expectations for personalized products.