At Glossy’s first Beauty x Wellness Summit, taking place this week in Santa Barbara, executives from beauty and wellness brands came together to discuss wellness’s impact on beauty, and the future of both industries. Brands are fueling the idea of “beauty from within,” launching products promoting everything from improved sleep and stress relief to mental and spiritual wellness. At the same time, beauty companies are being forced to produce a more diverse array of products, all at a faster clip and with clean ingredients.

We gathered some of the best speaker and attendee comments of the event, highlighting those centered on navigating Amazon, the DTC-wholesale balance and customer data.

Partnering with Amazon
“If you’re prestige, Amazon is dangerous. You want to be with retailers that help with brand identity, some specialty accounts. But Amazon is the last place you want to be. They’re going to degrade your brand identity. I know things are changing, and they’re trying to curate better — but if you’re trying to build a heritage brand, and you’re in it for the long run, in the beginning, when you’re still establishing your identity, you need to stay away from that.”

“We’re a luxury skin-care company, and our price points are very high. We did a big push on Amazon, and we saw great returns, and we had a great relationship. The only note I would say about it is: Have the experts in place, and have the bandwidth to execute that correctly, otherwise it will turn out badly. We had a whole store set up, and on the backend, we had a lot of support from the technology side. That was the key piece.”

“In the future, the question won’t be whether you sell on Amazon, but how you do Amazon. For a new brand, it’s quicker, faster and cheaper to get sales on Amazon, because people are already there. If you’re a legacy prestige brand, as you continue to lose customers from brick and mortar, you’re going to have to pick them up somewhere, and they’re already there. Some retailers, like Sephora and Nordstrom don’t want you on Amazon. But in the future, I think it’s going to be everyone trying to figure out how. I don’t think you can turn your back on it.”

“A lot of brands are partnering with Amazon to help control the grey market, and it’s been really successful for them. You partner with Amazon Luxury, and there’s price matching, which helps with everything going on with Walmart and other competitors — you’re kind of controlling the market; there’s no need for shoppers to go buy from the grey market. It does make sense for some brands, especially those in the fragrance world, It’s so hard to control the fragrance grey market, so there are some really big people on Amazon right now.”

“Once you become a brand on Amazon, and you register your trademark with them and go through that process, nobody else can sell your brand on there but you. It’s a way of controlling your presence in the market. It’s important to be aware.”

“It’s very important to speak to people when and how they want. If they want to talk on certain social channels, you need to respond to them there. If they want to shop on certain channels, you need it be responsive to that. Inclusivity allows brands to open up and take in information, and give it back in a way customers really relate to. For us, Amazon is part of that. People like to shop on Amazon. I don’t want to withhold them from that, because that’s an experience they’re accustomed to.”

Balancing digital, stores and wholesale
“A 50/50 split with DTC and wholesale is good. A lot of the brick-and-mortars are really trying to make a push — they now have really cool brands, like RMS. Having that show space, where people can get their hands on something and actually try it, smell it, feel it is important. But you want your DTC relationship, because there’s that relationship, and margins are better, and things are just easier for the brand.”

“In a dream world, we’d be opening more stores.”

“When your primary focus and business is online, you need to do pop-ups or something so people can experience your brand and really understand the DNA of it in real life. We’re getting a lot of opportunities to do short-term pop-ups — I don’t know if they will result in sales, or if it’s just an opportunity to show off the brand and meet new customers.”

“We just launched our own brand, and our founder is personally going to 250 Ulta stores and training the staff so they know exactly what points we want to make and really drive home what we’re all about.”

“Pop-ups are definitely a lot of work, and doing them back-to-back is not necessarily great for the brand and resources. We always look at ROI versus ROE, or return on equity. [Brand] partners are usually needed to bring it all to life in a reasonable way.”

Using customer data
“Some customer data tools look pretty and shiny on the outside, and then once you start using them, it’s like: What actionable things can I do with that? It’s nice that you hand me a customer segment, but what do I do with that, and how do I do it?”

“It’s hard to evaluate one single platform until you are in the weeds with your campaign and you are like, ‘Here are all these data points that to need to coalesce.’ Then you are like, ‘Is this platform falling short?’”

“There are so many platforms, and every team needs to understand that customer data.”

“You have to pick your battles, and it’s a process. Maybe the first year, you focus on one part of the digital journey and then pick and choose as you go along. Because — and maybe this is specific to bigger companies — you have people on digital teams when their strength isn’t really digital, and you don’t know what you don’t know.”

“[At bigger companies] bringing on any vendor, digital or otherwise, is such a process. You can’t be nimble.”

“I have all these workflows that I could spend time on — creative resources, developing resources — but what’s actually going to move the needle?”

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