Beauty and lifestyle brand Beekman 1802 has become one of the most recognizable players in the livestream and TV shopping space.
Livestream shopping and TV channels like HSN and QVC gained new attraction in 2020 as brands sought to diversify their omnichannel strategies and find a hybrid between online and in-person shopping. Beekman 1802, which previously set a goal of $100 million in sales by 2021, first joined HSN in 2018 and QVC in 2019, after first appearing on home shopping television network Evine, now ShopHQ. It is one of the few brands to sell through both TV shopping channels, alternating appearances on a monthly basis. Then in April, the brand began working with livestream shopping software company Livescale to host events on its own website, while simultaneously broadcasting them through Instagram Live and Facebook Live. The brand has held three events with Livescale so far. Beekman 1802 joined Ulta in July 2020, and the retailer has begun accelerating its own livestream shopping plans, though Beekman 1802 has yet to appear. Beekman 1802 plans to host a livestream shopping event every two weeks on its own website, said Brent Ridge, Beekman 1802 co-founder.
Glossy took a deep-dive look into the Beekman 1802 strategy, including how it storyboards each event, how it approaches QVC, HSN and Livescale differently, and why baby goats are important to success.
The greatest showman
The pre-production of a Beekman 1802 livestream shopping event is no small feat. The Beekman 1802 team produces countless custom animations, still shots, videos and photography crafted for each livestream platform. Typically, select Beekman 1802 products are promoted as the “Today’s Special Value” on QVC and as “Today’s Special” on HSN. Products are chosen together by the brand and the buyers. (The Beekman 1802 team builds its programming around those products.) Based on whatever that product is, the Beekman 1802 team assembles a storyboard and theme that work well with it, said Ridge.
For example, on the last day of a 12-day holiday special on Facebook Live in Dec. 2020, which coincided with Beekman 1802 being in business for 12 years, the brand featured photos, animations and pre-taped video assets in the hour-long program. Ridge shared personal stories on the creation of products like the best-selling whipped body cream and the goat milk soap, and the reason the brand would not exist today without those products. On the first night, sales were $100,000 in 60 minutes, and over the course of the 12 days, sales came in at over $734,000.
The playful banter between Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Beekman 1802 co-founder (Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell are married) also serves as an important element of Beekman 1802’s livestreaming success. Their double-act banter sets up Ridge as the classic comedic straight man, whereas Kilmer-Purcell serves as the funny man with amusing zings and jabs. This dynamic allows them to discuss products and stories as a conversation, rather than as a direct sales push.
“We’re not saying the same story over and over again; we have a multi-layered story that can continue to captivate the customer. The longer you captivate them, the more likely they are to stick around and actually buy a product,” said Ridge.
In its first Livescale event, Beekman 1802 broke the record for the highest sales in an hour-long livestream shopping event on the platform, said Madison Schill, head of communications at Livescale. Sales during the 60-minute “Blooming Skin Show” were 400% higher than what Beekman 1802’s e-commerce site experiences in a 24-hour sales period, she said. The conversion rate on the event was 35%, compared to the average Livescale event of 9.5%, she added. Ridge said QVC and HSN also stick to 60-minute segments for sharing the brand’s story. But, Beekman 1802 does approach Livescale, QVC and HSN differently. On HSN and QVC, the focus is on skin, bath and body care, and the story of the Beekman 1802 farm. Meanwhile, Livescale is tailored to clean and clinical products. Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell also do not host the Livescale events. Instead, various Beekman 1802 employees do.
“The brands that have done well are the ones that give exclusive access to something,” said Schill. “Even if customers are not going to buy anything, they want to tune in for [Beekman 1802] because of the [hosts]. Their strategy of livestream shopping events is unique and fun.”
When in doubt, bring in baby goats
Engagement is the No. 1 focus and metric of livestream shopping success for the Beekman 1802 team. At the beginning of its last livestream event during its 12-day holiday special, Ridge stated to the audience that the brand’s goal was to sustain a viewership of at least 1,000 people. He encouraged the audience to share the livestream link in order to assist and plugged that actress Vanessa Williams would join as a special host. For every QVC and HSN event, baby goats from the Beekman 1802 farm are brought in to capture the audience’s attention, either on set at QVC or HSN, or in the Beekman 1802 studio. Ridge said the amount of time someone is willing to spend watching QVC and HSN is under three minutes, which generally also applies to any livestream shopping event.
“Every movement from the baby goats is unexpected, because it’s not scripted and people will stop on the channel because they saw a baby goat,” said Ridge. “Probably 80% of getting someone to make a purchase on livestream shopping or TV is about getting them to stop and listen.”
Giveaway contests are also sprinkled throughout events to encourage shopping, and the Beekman 1802 team will also respond to people in the live chat display when on Instagram, Facebook Live or Livescale. For its first Livescale event, the engagement rate was 49%, compared to an industry standard of 35%, said Schill. Livescale measures engagement based on any single interaction, such as a comment, answering a poll or quiz, or sending a heart emoji. It also works with brands like Lancôme, Urban Decay and Kiehl’s
“Livestream shopping is about directly bridging the gap between a physical retail space — where you can talk to a retail associate, touch the product and see what a product looks like — versus the digital convenience of seeing and buying it,” said Schill.
Schill said that, in Livescale’s experience, the most-viewed events are between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in any timezone. Audiences are more likely to tune in then, as well as Saturday and Sunday because people are done with their workweeks and are looking for something entertaining and relaxing. Lunchtime events are also popular, but Schill expects that to become less so as more people go back into offices. The average event duration is 35- 55 minutes, but 55 minutes is the “golden number,” she said.
Always. be. closing.
Before Beekman 1802’s first Livescale event, Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell briefly went live on Instagram Live and Facebook Live to inform followers that Beekman 1802 was going to host a livestream shopping event. Beekman 1802 also worked with TikTok influencer Laura Lee Watts (who has 3 million followers) to promote the event. Instagram and Facebook were big drivers of the Livescale traffic, but Beekman 1802 also sent email newsletters to its subscribers 30 minutes before the event began, and sent SMS text messages to 3,000 subscribers, said Brad Farrell, Beekman 1802 CMO. During the last 60 seconds of Livescale events, Beekman 1802 promotes an exclusive deal that is available to shop after the event concludes.
“The last 15 minutes of a livestream shopping event are usually when a brand sees a huge spike in sales. Brands have to milk those last 15 minutes by informing people that there is only [a limited time] left or a certain number of products left,” said Schill. “The common denominator of [well-performing] brands are active Facebook group audiences. Those brands have strong community engagement with a specific demographic, namely women between 35- and 65-years-old.”
When Beekman 1802 hosted its second Livescale event in May, the objective was to acquire new customers. Beekman 1802 built its event around the hit Canadian television show “Schitt’s Creek,” which features a local store called Rose Apothecary. Beekman 1802 previously collaborated with the show to bring to life Rose Apothecary for a holiday pop-up in 2020. Because of that collaboration, 40% of sales from the event were made from new customers, according to Farrell. He added that the goal is to make $1,000 in sales per minute of an event.
“Startup beauty brands can be successful out of the gate because they’re new or they’re novel, but they don’t really have a lot of longevity because the churn is so high,” said Ridge. “For brands interested in livestream and TV shopping, they have to think about how they’re going to educate and entertain customers, and keep people watching for longer.”