Coronavirus has forced brands to rethink their physical and digital strategies, pushing them to move away from a steady test-and-learn phase and, instead, pivot quickly.
Facial device company NuFace, which has a footprint in over 3,000 retail and spa doors like Neiman Marcus and Sephora, has seen its partners close its stores. But as current clients and prospective customers spend more time indoors, the NuFace team has become more flexible with its social media strategies due to coronavirus. Like many other beauty brands, it is trying to balance promoting products, while also expressing empathy for the mental welfare of its social media followers. NuFace declined to state 2019 sales but said more than 50% of sales are e-commerce, and that it has not yet re-forecasted its expected 2020 sales and growth because there is too much uncertainty around how long the pandemic will last.
“This is an opportunity for brands that are authentic to be super real, super raw, and put everything out there,” said Tera Peterson, NuFace co-founder and CEO. “It’s going be interesting to see how at-home treatments evolve, not only with NuFace, but also with face masks. People [will figure out] their at-home routine, because we all still want to take care of ourselves.”
NuFace has already tested virtual house calls, conducting seven so far, and they have now fully replaced its in-person house calls. It is planning approximately seven more in the coming month. The virtual house calls entail Peterson conducting a tutorial through Zoom or FaceTime with one or more influencers. (In exchange, the participating influencers receive a NuFace device beforehand.) In many ways, this methodology has been more effective than an in-person session, Peterson said. She can conduct masterclass calls with multiple influencers or spa partners, including those in other countries, and influencers are learning how to use NuFace devices faster and are developing an affinity for the product sooner, she said. As NuFace has just begun this, there is not yet a set cadence, and it depends on the influencer’s discretion if virtual house calls are shared with their followers.
NuFace took this approach a step further by creating a giveaway for its social media followers, of five virtual house calls — it started on March 16. This strategy sits among its other newly launched social campaigns, such as #upliftyourself, on Instagram. NuFace is focusing less on talking about its products, in favor of showing what NuFace employees are doing to stay happy, and physically and emotionally healthy.
But it is also trying to reduce barriers for purchase. The brand is offering free shipping, whereas customers typically had to reach a $75 threshold. What the team has noticed is that because fewer people are leaving their homes, and they now have a more captive audience. Since March 16, the brand’s Instagram Stories have seen a 30% increase in viewers.
“Customers are utilizing their time to engage directly with the brand. It’s less about mindless scrolling; it’s more intentional and thoughtful,” said Maria Maciejowski, NuFace svp of marketing.
NuFace is also seizing this opportunity to poll customers on what they would like to see from NuFace and then create videos, starring Peterson, within hours based on those suggestions, said Maciejowski. The brand has also seen an approximately 20% increase in likes and comments on static Instagram feed posts, she said.
With customers spending more time at home, they have more time to dedicate to their skin-care routines. Peterson is hoping that what happened in China sales will be a marker for the rest of the globe: In February, sales in China increased 85% year over year, as millions of people were quarantined. These sales are reflected in the brand’s user-generated content, which it reposts. Posts using the #upliftyourself hashtag or that tag NuFace have approximately doubled since March 16. NuFace plans to repost more UGC but is figuring out the ratio between UGC and its own branded content.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing for us right now is staying connected to our community and finding ways to uplift them,” said Maciejowski.