The Shiseido-owned beauty brand's Marketing Director discusses her career, recent brand achievements and the unexpected effect of Covid-19 on business
From forecasting to budgets, storytelling and brand launches, the role of a Marketing Director is varied at the best of times. But what about when a global pandemic hits?
In association with CEW UK, here Isabella Rogers, Marketing Director of bareMinerals at Shiseido Group UK & Ireland, talks to Cosmetics Business about how she climbed the career ladder at Shiseido, and why Covid-19 forced the brand to adapt and advance to a point that would have otherwise taken years.
What does your current role involve?
It’s a full on 360° role. The fundamental nature is to be the ultimate brand guardian and comms strategist.
Consumers interact with brands in hundreds of ways in a single day, punctuating their daily routine via social influencers, native digital, OOH advertising, in-store: the journey patterns are endless and by no means linear.
They create an intricate web of touchpoints where we ultimately endeavour to communicate the brand ethos, personality, values and of course product performance. My role is to strategically plan and navigate the vehicles we use, and the picture that eventually forms for the customer.
The role can be very operational; managing product forecasting, budgets and retail performance is key, but it’s also a joy to bring creativity to the media strategy, visual merchandising and storytelling for a brand new product launch.
My team is fantastic at bringing a 360° launch to life and inspiring innovation in a heritage brand that is over 25-years-old.
The beauty industry arguably has the fastest moving trend developments, more so than fashion. It’s my job to anticipate and investigate the impact against product development, influencers, ingredients, sustainability, and so, often work with specialist bodies like CEW to better understand the evolution by collaborating with thought leaders in the industry.
How did you get into the role you are in today?
I was always heading for beauty. I was born and bred in digital, working the majority of my early career planning and buying media both brand side in luxury fashion but also spending years at one of the biggest global media agencies Dentsu Aegis.
Having worked on some hugely innovative tech clients like Microsoft, I soon progressed into the luxury market across Fashion and Beauty, including the Shiseido Group brands.
I thrived in the beauty industry, completely obsessed with the lightning fast trends and the stream of seemingly magic products; I knew I wanted to be closer to a brand.
I joined Shiseido Group as Group Head of Comms and Media across the portfolio including NARS, Laura Mercier and Dolce & Gabbana, and after a year and a half progressed to Marketing Director for bareMinerals.
I have always loved the brand’s natural credentials and genuinely inclusive, caring DNA so it was honestly a dream come true to work with those products.
What is one of your biggest achievements for bareMinerals over the past year?
Becoming the #1 'clean beauty' brand in the UK has been a huge, well deserved achievement for the brand. bareMinerals was born a clean natural brand and has been leading the category for years but with the more recent mainstream revolution and recognition of clean beauty, it has been awe-inspiring to see bareMinerals claim genuine and recognised leadership in the category.
How has bareMinerals been impacted by Covid-19?
Being an established beauty brand with a large bricks-and-mortar footprint meant the Covid-19 period caused a global shake-up.
With all stores closing, our retail was of course flipped on its head, with 100% of our business now online with .coms and pureplayers, we’ve adapted faster than I ever could’ve thought possible.
We repeatedly hear the word ‘unprecedented’, but it truly is, we have been forced to advance and adapt in weeks to a point that could have taken years.
We even launched a brand new colour product during lockdown, we have championed digital try on tools for our new lip launch for Mineralist lipstick along with the virtual PR press events and masterclasses.
We were also quick to launch virtual 1-to-1 consultations for our customers. I’m proud and inspired by the entire industry’s agility to serve their customers from a distance.
And of course the resilient, adaptive nature of the public. CEW has shared some incredible insights from their media partners around evolving online consumer behaviour and it’s here to stay.
How many standalone stores does bareMinerals operate in the UK and worldwide?
In the UK, we have five standalone boutiques that run the length of the country, literally, from Brighton to Glasgow. In addition to over 200 physical points of distribution with our retailers.
Worldwide, we have over 100 standalone stores and almost 1,000 physical doors and growing.
Has bareMinerals reopened its UK stores now and, if so, was it phased or all at once?
Yes! I’m ecstatic to say we reopened selected doors on the 15 June with full safety precautions in place and hopefully 100% reopening by the 16 July.
Have its overseas stores reopened?
Yes we’re getting there. Germany and France opened well before the UK with the rest of Europe and the US followed closely, the UK has been the final market to open its doors according to government protocol but the British public seem back on the high street in force already.
What measures is bareMinerals taking to keep consumers safe, and how are you communicating this to consumers?
It’s certainly a new look and feel. All testers have been put away for the time being and any application of product put on hold so stores are looking sadly empty.
We have been developing new and innovative alternatives including virtual try on in-store, increased sampling and dramming, and full look face charts completed in-store for consumers to take away with them.
Our social media channels across Facebook and Instagram have been our essential mouthpieces to communicate updates with our loyal followers as soon as we have them.
It has been an incredible time to see the teams rally to fulfil all the safety precautions we needed for reopenings.
We have done everything possible to ensure the safety of our customers and of course our staff; enforcing social distancing and one way systems where possible. All our staff have been provided with masks and gloves which they can change regularly and of course hand sanitiser stations for themselves and the customers.
What products have been top sellers over the past few months?
Most interestingly, we’ve seen an incredible uplift in our skin care products, doubling our mix of business.
The focus on personal wellness and masking during lockdown has meant people are taking even more care of their skin and really investing in their regimes with a natural decrease in colour as we’re wearing less make-up and stripping back our ‘at home’ looks.
However, Original foundation has remained as ever our #1 product. The cult following for this product is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with not just a love for the performance, but a truly unique emotional connection – the miraculous skin improving qualities of this foundation have changed people’s lives, so much so that our #IAmAnOriginal campaign this year drew upon hundreds of real life breath-taking stories that our consumers had submitted and wanted to share. Original is still the favourite at home.
What marketing strategy does bareMinerals have for the next year going into 2021?
We have been transfixed as an industry on physical experiential activations for the last few years, and with that now stripping back, at least in the short term, we have to evolve, revolutionise and be creative in the way we speak to and engage consumers. 2021 is really about taking the learnings from this completely unique period, understanding the changes in consumer demand and behaviour, but also educating our consumers about our brand mission for a greater environmental and social purpose.
With the BLM movement also gaining more momentum than ever before, 2021 will really be about committing to our promises and helping change the beauty industry representation forever.
2020 is a necessary revolution - the year that shook the world, 2021 should be the first step to re-building a better one.