Anastasia Beverly Hills pushes digital strategy with new brow app

As e-commerce continues be prioritized throughout beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills is betting on a new brow app.

The app is based on founder and CEO Anastasia Soare’s patented golden ratio shaping method, which informs one’s eyebrow shape based on thirds. The brow app has six key features: a face and brow analysis with the brand’s brow mirror, a preview of a client’s suggested brow, personalized tips to recreate the look at home, a check phase that ensures the correct shape, product and beauty recommendations, and a virtual brow consultation. It launches on iOS March 1 and on Android March 15. More than 10 hero ABH eyebrow products, such as its Brow Definer and Brow Powder Duo, will be available to purchase via the app and select partners.

“We wanted to bring the experience of our eponymous Beverly Hills salon to our community and beyond, putting it in the palm of their hand,” said Soare. “We conducted a study of thousands of brow customers and what we learned was that only 35% do their brows regularly.”

Soare explained the rest either did them on special occasions or not at all. Customers  were worried about over-tweezing and choosing the right product shade, while others had no brow experience. She added that Covid-19 has made it much more difficult for customers to get a personal brow consult in a salon or store. “At the end of the day, it all boiled down to confidence. We wanted to give this 65% the confidence to be able to do their brows on a more regular basis,” said Soare.

Made with two undisclosed technology partners and proprietary data, the app took eight months to create. It will debut in six languages to start, with each region linking to a specific partner; Ulta Beauty will be Anastasia Beverly Hills’ premier retailer in the U.S. The brand will also place app QR codes on ABH endcaps to act as a virtual assistant in Ulta stores. In about two months’ time, the brand will release a desktop version of the app, and by the third quarter, complexion, lip and eyeshadow products and interactive features will be added.

“There are other try-on apps out there, but there are no others that augments your brows according to bone structure and face shape. We knew that we needed to bring something special and new to the table, especially as AR moves to the forefront of brand growth,” said Soare.

Though color cosmetics have been pushed to the brink amid the global health crisis, eye makeup has fared particularly well. The category was the most profitable segment in color cosmetics in 2020, with a sales revenue of $1.96 billion, per consumer data firm Statista.

As a pandemic-proof category — mask-wearing or not — more eye-centric beauty brands are leaning on technology. Benefit Cosmetics debuted its virtual “Lash Factory,” which included a photo booth, a custom Instagram filter and virtual try-on with AR, in February to support the launch of its new They’re Real! Magnet mascara. In Anastasia Beverly Hills’ case, it found that its existing target was yearning for better brow education and entertainment. Only about 35%of respondents were doing their brows everyday, with the brand being the No. 1 choice for 50% of those customers. Meanwhile, 60% of the target felt “intimated, overwhelmed, confused or scared” to do their brows at all, according to the brand.

When Anastasia Beverly Hills secured a minority investment from TPG Capital in 2018 it was touted as “the last giant makeup deal.”  But, the brand was downgraded by Fitch Ratings last year. ABH took on about $650 million in term loan debt due in 2025 when it sold a minority stake in the business to TPG; the deal happened around the time makeup sales peaked in the U.S. Soare would not comment on company sales figures or growth, but Fitch Ratings expected at the time of its report that ABH’s revenue would dip by 30% in 2020 because of the company’s capital structure.

Despite reportedly being overleveraged, customer sentiment remains strong. According to a report by Coefficient Capital and The New Consumer, 21% of Gen Z shoppers purchased Anastasia Beverly Hills. That’s more than Fenty Beauty (20%), Kylie Cosmetics (19%) and Milk Makeup (13%).

Ariane Turley, lead beauty industry consultant at SimilarWeb, added that “Anastasia has managed to fare relatively well during the pandemic.” Average monthly traffic in 2020 was up 26% year-over-year, with the brand site experiencing the most traffic in May 2020, hitting over 900,00 visitors. Turley said this was due to the launch of a series of new products, including the Norvina Pro Pigment Palette Vol. 4. Meanwhile, on site search performance with declined 24% year-over-year, but conversion rates with Sephora hit 10.8% in 2020 versus the site average of 6.5%, up 18% year-over-year. “This suggests that Sephora is delivering more quality traffic to the brand; the consumers who are searching for Anastasia are interested in buying,” she said.

Thus, the app will be able to increase Anastasia Beverly Hills’ visibility and penetration with customers. “We created the app to be your daily get ready tool. The mirror functionality allows you to see yourself in any shade or shape and find the look that suits you best. Then, use the magic mirror to outline, fill, detail and finish your brows to perfection,” said Soare. “Brows transform the entire face, and that boost in confidence has the potential to be life changing. At its heart, ABH is a teaching brand and we want to inspire everyone to have their own personalized perfect brows.”

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