Breaking News

The CEO of Bluemercury explains how her luxury beauty company adapted its innovative, hands-on retail strategy to survive in a digital-first world amid the pandemic

bluemercury
  • Marla Beck is the CEO and cofounder of the luxury beauty company Bluemercury.
  • She founded the business in 1999 after becoming frustrated with how "impersonal" the experience of in-store beauty shopping was at the time. 
  • Today, the company's products — including its clean makeup and skincare offerings and its popular vitamin C skin line — are available in over 200 locations worldwide.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As people are spending more time than ever in their homes, skincare is seeing a major boom in popularity. Business Insider's Kate Taylor reported in March that Americans in isolation have turned to skincare as a form of self-care and comfort, and as a result, skincare sales have rapidly outpaced the general beauty market in recent months.
But smaller companies like Bluemercury, who have traditionally prided themselves on offering a more personalized experience, have had to get creative in order to pivot their offerings while most of the country is under lockdown.
Marla Beck, the CEO and cofounder of Bluemercury, spoke to Business Insider about how her company has adapted during this time and whether the pandemic spells the end for brick-and-mortar beauty stores.

'I didn't love the way you had to shop for cosmetics back then, and I wanted to fix that'

Growing up in California's Bay Area, Beck always had a penchant for healthy living and was always cautious about the products she put on her skin, the CEO said. Beauty was a hobby for Beck, but it wasn't until after she went to graduate school in Boston that she began to think about it seriously as a career.
"I went to Berkley for economics, then to McKinsey for two years, then went back to business school and public policy school," she told Business Insider. "After graduate school, I saw an opportunity to create something new and different."
Back then, she recalled, the process of cosmetics shopping was terrible. Consumers would go to a drugstore or a department store and had to observe products sold behind glass.
"You'd have to go up to each counter and ask for help, or even ask to touch products," she continued. "It was very impersonal."
bluemercury
So, in 1999, Beck decided to combine her background in finance and consulting and her passion for beauty to open Bluemercury, a beauty store in the D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown, with the goal of creating a more welcoming and "personal" experience for beauty shoppers.
While more stores today have adopted a similar retail strategy, it was a relative novelty at the time of Bluemercury's founding that it was a multibrand retailer and had its products out in the open so people could touch them and try them on.
The concept was a hit, and today, the retailer can be found in 200 different locations throughout the country.

'We had to make a determination when the crisis came'

Customers right now, Beck said, are more open to the idea of "natural" skincare than they were in the past. This paved the way for the company to release its M-61 Vitamin C skincare line in 2012, which Beck says has since become one of its most popular items.
The retailer had plans to launch another line this April, but was met with a crisis decision as the pandemic swept through the world. Bluemercurys throughout the country shut their doors in early March as lockdowns rolled out, and customers have remained wary about reentering brick-and-mortar stores.
"We had to make a determination when the [pandemic] came," she said. "I mean, we have no plans to have our clients touching products until they're comfortable doing so."
bluemercury
Luckily, the retailer invested in its digital presence early, which has paid off as customers flock to Bluemercury's e-commerce store amid the pandemic. Beck said that consumers are online shopping for sunscreen and self-tanners; consultations have risen because people need advice on how to manage their hair, and how to look better for Zoom conferences.
All Bluemercury had to do was provide. And it did — provide products, provide beauty experts, provide tidbits of comfort.
Business was going so well that the company went ahead with its clean beauty launch, which led to "a ton of new client acquisition," said Beck. In late May, Bluemercury began reopening its brick-and-mortar stores, and introduced "Contactless Curbside Pick-Me-Up," which allows customers to pick up to-go beauty orders from the store.
The company is still expanding its digital presence — on Facebook, Instagram, and now TikTok. But, Beck told Business Insider, the company can't wait to return to its full brick-and-mortar presence.
As it turns out, few things compare to the experience of browsing through a beauty store to touch and try on products in person. E-commerce might be the future, but it's still just a form of selling beauty behind glass.
"There is just something about browsing as you walk through a store," she said. "When someone finds the right skincare products, you're not just changing their skin, you're changing their confidence or their outlook. It's like having a good hair day."
SEE ALSO: THE STYLE SERIES: A Gen Z entrepreneur created an interactive shopping app that's like 'Tinder for outfits.' Here's how she did it.
SEE ALSO: THE STYLE SERIES: Jennifer Aniston and Selena Gomez both partnered with this luxury retailer that helps underprivileged girls all around the world
Join the conversation about this story »
NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time


* This article was originally published here
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/warroom/~3/uT59sjQdwWM/bluemercury-ceo-marla-beck-on-personalized-retail-strategy-interview-2020-5
Press Release Distribution

No comments