If everything turns upside-down, how flexible do the different generations react? Is it possible to create the same experience in the digital space? Can brand loyalty still exist or is it likely to reach its customers online? We spoke with Lajos Pingiczer, Senior Regional Retail Marketing Manager at Laboratoire Bioderma for the Middle East market about the epidemic that also threatened not only the beauty industry, but faced the company to new challenges and adaptation strategies.
Progressive (P): We see that the epidemic has fundamentally changed the lives of consumers and this has had a strong impact on most markets. How do you see the changes in the beauty industry?
Lajos Pingiczer (L.P.): Indeed, the epidemic has had a strong impact on many markets on a global level. There are some markets that have been hit very hard by the crisis, they completely zeroed themselves- just think of tourism, aviation and education. Certainly, there are categories where their relevance has grown exponentially and have begun to see an unprecedented growth - the biggest challenge for them is how to meet the high demand. Unfortunately, the beauty industry is one of the losers of the epidemic period. Among other things, makeup as a category eased down due to the fact that people do not really leave their homes and in most cases, there is no daily video conference meeting, so our consumers use fewer products. But I could even mention sunscreens in line with the fact that people did not sunbathe as much this summer.
Our sales and communication channels have also fundamentally changed over the pandemic and the transition period has certainly not been easy. Not only did we have to deal with online sales, but we also had to figure out how we could provide online services. Our customers were used to being able to visit the shops where our hostesses and beauty consultants suggested what product to use for different skin problems. If the consumers were unsure what to choose, our consultants helped them with a discounted offer. With the outbreak, we had to retrain our consultants to be able to help customers as online experts, and we organized online workshops on various topics to stay in touch with our buyers.
As far as communication is concerned; digital communication, search engine marketing, content marketing has significantly increased and not to mention influencer marketing as well.
P: How flexibly did consumers adapt to the new situation? Have there been any generational differences?
L.P.: It was not easy for consumers either, regardless of age. They are used to going into a store and talk to counselors if they needed anything. Of course, the older generation had a harder time changing their shopping method, but it was not easy for the younger ones either. Although young people know the digital space very well, but all of a sudden, all the information became only available at online channels and it is also a challenge for them how to process the data.
P: What does Bioderma do better than its competition?
L.P.: In addition to consumer communication, we paid more attention to communication with pharmacists, as we are talking about a channel where personal communication with our customers still worked. Therefore, we found innovative digital solutions for this. Since the epidemic started, we challenged playful WhatsApp games for the pharmacist, and we introduced an application where main goal is education. The app is similarly playful and has in an easy-to-accept form. These are engagement-building solutions that we have never seen at our competitors.