No man is an island, and neither is any brand. Case in point: clean haircare brand Innersense is looking to flip the script on its digital engagement strategy with Credo Beauty and Detox Market. Rather than focusing on driving sales to its own e-commerce site, Innersense has leveraged the power of its partnerships to create a new wave of digital engagement among consumers via social media activations.
“It’s never been my intention to compete with our competitors, but to live in a harmonic manner. Our [consumer] communities are very transcendent, so it’s important for us to support their growth because their success equals our success,” comments Innersense founder Greg Starkman. The brand is no stranger to being experimental, having enriched their e-commerce experience with virtual shopping platform Hero, resulting in customer conversion rates 11 times higher than the industry average.
Rather than focusing on discount codes or GWPs, Starkman prioritizes building business through new customer acquisition via investment in digital marketing. This is where co-op campaigns and a more long-haul digital strategy come into play, such as teaming up with Credo and 6 leading clean beauty influencers on social media stories, or gifting product boxes to Beauty Hero’s top 20% of customers.
“We are speaking with our retailers in the planning and marketing process, having deeper conversations about more sustained campaigns that continue to communicate to that customer. In order to compete in today’s environment, you have to be willing to make the investments,” Starkman proclaims. These investments include an omnichannel approach across different digital platforms, resulting in a monthly growth rate of 15% for social platforms and +65% growth in the retail partnership space, with a customer retention rate (those purchasing over two times within a 12-month period) of over 78%. “Everything we’re communicating is really non transactional, it’s all about brand awareness, education, and engagement. We engage in an active chat with our customers,” he states.
Detox Market has also seen a huge surge in engagement and changing consumer ideology as a result of the pandemic.“There’s been a real shift, people are attracted by smaller brands and stories they can relate to a little more than a very commercial brand,” founder Romain Gaillard says. In the case of Innersense, Detox Market has collaborated with the brand on live events and social media content creation. “That’s where the partnership between the retailer and the brand can be very strong: when the brand understands how to leverage the retailer, the retailer understands how to leverage the brand, and you have this amazing relationship between the two. Co-creating is key,” he adds.
Gaillard notes a fivefold increase in Innersense’s revenue over the last five years, a testament to the efficacy of cross-community engagement that doesn’t operate on a siloed, brand-centric perspective, leveraging the power of communities outside of their own, rather than competing against them. “Detox Market sees ourselves as a curator and content creator, more than a retailer. We’re really trying to create a voice, a community, and relevant content for this community,” he proclaims. When it comes to brand partnerships, transactional relationships are no longer the way forward. “You need to support the retailer, drive traffic there and build momentum. It’s a very competitive environment, so you want to ensure that you launch at the right time, add traffic through PR, create events, invest in terms of sampling and marketing initiatives within the retailer—really build the channel,” Gaillard explains.
Annie Jackson, co-founder/COO at Credo Beauty, stresses the importance of a digital-first marketing strategy as a result of the pandemic, adjusting content to customer feedback in real time for online channels, and staying proactive and inquisitive about the retailer’s programs or plans on a consistent basis. “We saw a clear surge of interest in selfcare, and the importance of clean, healthy beauty. We also noticed an obvious need of light, fun, happy content that brought joy versus purely shoppable posts,” she comments. Recreating the IRL retail experience was another challenge, but Credo pushed virtual customized consultations through the website’s live chat and virtual events, although the co-founder notes an uptick in makeup, education, and IRL experiences as restrictions are lifting.
For Jackson, the key element to driving sales are newness and exclusive partnerships, as well as maintaining brand awareness through marketing programs in between launches via rewards, special promotions, and local activations. Credo has been a pioneer in the clean beauty space and the launchpad for many brands, but in such a highly competitive space, its COO emphasizes four key points for brands to make their mark: launch strategy / marketing synergy, investing in deluxe samples or mini sizes to support the retailer’s marketing programs, coordinating online content, and staying proactive with regular check-ins.
All three companies show that collaboration is key, and while it may require considerable time and capital investments from brand owners and retailers alike, consumers will reward their efforts with sustained engagement, and ultimately, repeat purchases.