When putting plans in place for yet another holiday season at the end of an unpredictable year, beauty brands had their work cut out for them — and not everyone rose to the challenge.
For months, supply chain issues have been plaguing industries far and wide, but the beauty industry’s obstacles have been unique. For some, held-up parts of product containers caused a domino effect, preventing seasonal assortments from timely hitting sales floors. Meanwhile, others wrote off their planned holiday-themed products as lost investments. Though Advent calendars and gift sets consistently drive sales at a prime gifting time, many were stuck at warehouses or ports with delivery dates of post-Christmas.
“Our [challenge] is around our free gift with purchase [holiday promotion],” said an attendee at Glossy’s Beauty Summit in November. “We don’t yet have the gifts. So, do you send the whole order out late, or do you send it along with a postcard coupon, hoping [the customer] will come back to redeem it for the free gift? Either way, they’ll be mad.”
But there were also brands that thought ahead and scrapped traditional holiday collections altogether, deeming it too risky to bet on their punctual arrival times. And many bumped up their planning of all things holiday, in order to stock up, staff up and reap the benefits of consumers in shopping mode.
“A big thing for us was trying to make holiday product that isn’t exclusively holiday, so that it can live for a longer lifespan,” a Glossy Beauty Summit attendee said. “If it needs to live into Valentine’s Day, we can promote it as a gift for Valentine’s Day — just so we don’t have as much pressure on [getting it for December]. And then we can guide the customer to core product at a hot price point or make the [core product] feel giftable by using photo assets or marketing.”
Unfortunately, there were nearly as many companies that felt unprepared for the December onslaught, according to a Glossy survey of 36 beauty industry executives taken on-site at November’s Glossy Beauty Summit. Thirty-three percent of respondents said their company’s supply chain was not ready for the holiday sales rush, while 42% said it was.
It could have been that brands had gotten too comfortable ahead of the holidays, especially as sales in categories including skin care and hair care have remained high since 2020. Three-fourths of the survey respondents said their company’s sales were meeting or exceeding 2019 sales, as of mid-November.
That’s despite the fact 28% of brands are still placing all their eggs in the Facebook-Instagram basket, in terms of advertising, according to survey respondents. It’s a large percentage, considering brands across industries have made moves to differentiate their advertising and marketing mix, in step with privacy-related changes impacting the success of Facebook ads. Plus, many have effectively raised brand awareness and driven sales using other platforms, including TikTok.
But brand leaders have been open about their goals for 2022 as they’ve solidified them. Ninety-two percent of beauty workers say they have a good sense of their company’s strategic goals for 2022. Evolving the brand’s strategies and attracting and retaining talent are popular priorities among beauty execs.
Among the pandemic’s impacts on beauty is the fall of the traditional beauty office. Though beauty companies’ corporate HQs in the U.S. are largely consolidated to NYC, L.A. and San Francisco, many employees can now work from wherever they’d like. Eighty percent of survey respondents said their companies have become more flexible, when it comes to remote work and other employee benefits.
Meanwhile, 61% said their companies are hiring remote talent in cities that are far outside of commuting distance from corporate HQs.