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Exclusive Q&A: Clarins finds beauty in social engagement

A global cosmetics and skincare brand is maintaining high levels of virtual customer service during COVID-19 via social media.

France-based Clarins Group, which sells cosmetics and skincare products in 140 countries via third-party retail partners and its own digital retail outlets, focuses on providing a top-quality omnichannel customer experience. When the global COVID-19 outbreak closed down the stores of Clarins’ retail partners, the company turned to social media to avoid any letdown in customer satisfaction.

Chain Store Age spoke with Deborah Holloway, digital media manager at Clarins, to find out more about the leading beauty brand’s social retailing efforts, including the deployment of technology from social media marketing platform Hootsuite.

What issues was Clarins facing with the COVID-19-related shutdown of stores?
Prior to COVID-19, Clarins’ primary business model was focused on in-store retail through partners such as John Lewis, Boots, and Debenhams. At the heart of Clarins, we pride ourselves to deliver five-star service and experience with our dedicated in-store teams. However, with the closures of stores, the business had to be agile and quickly adapt to deliver this same five-star service in a new digital way. 

This led to the launch of ‘Clarins & Me’ consultations, which has since evolved to the new Clarins Virtual Boutique launched in September 2020, where we offer complimentary virtual one-to-one consultations and events.

Clarins has also leveraged social listening during the pandemic, what made you decide on a social listening strategy?
At Clarins, social media listening has played an important role in our strategy, as we value customer insights and feedback. At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we noticed a shift in behavior, topics and trends in social conversations, which provided plenty of data and insights to make us re-evaluate our existing social content playbook and reinvent a new one. 

This new playbook was more authentic and agile, as we used trending topics on a weekly basis to inform new content the same week. With the addition of our Clarins Beauty Coaches, we were able to offer weekly live video content ranging from ‘maskne’ tutorials to self-care rituals. It’s now become a main pillar of our content strategy that we will continue to evolve based on the insights of our social listening.

Why and how did Clarins select and implement technology from Hootsuite?
In the U.K., Clarins has been a partner of Hootsuite for a few years, and the appointment was driven by the scalability of Hootsuite’s open platform. While there are many social media management platforms in the world today, Hootsuite continues to be a leader in their field, a first to market with new products, and understands what our brand needs to be innovative and transformative.

Using a combination of Hootsuite Analytics, Impact deep measurement, and Brandwatch listening, we were able to publish agile content across our social media channels and measure the success in real-time. In cases where we were seeing content with high engagement rates on an organic level, we used Hootsuite Ads to sponsor this content to reach relevant target audiences.

What type of results have you received?
The results of this connected strategy using data and insights, agile content creation and new digital services have allowed us to continue to grow our online offering for our customers. We now offer the same in-store five-star service in a virtual capacity, the benefits of which will continue to help us grow in the year to come. 

With paid media behind the virtual service, we were able to achieve click-through-rates of 0.6%, with low cost-per-click compared to other media campaigns. Within the first month, the activity generated over 450 consultations. Our wider paid media strategy had also realigned and switched from engagement metrics to commerce, generating 30,000 website visits from social media whilst stores were closed in the first lockdown in March 2020.

Are there any future social media plans you can discuss?
2020 has confirmed once again that video content is king, whether it be live, snackable or long-form. In 2021, we will be looking to go a step further by making our video content shoppable to strengthen our e-commerce business.

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