The beauty industry is thriving. Which means there is a need for beauty brands to invest in a great affiliate program. Now is not the time to be digitally left behind if you work in the ever-growing beauty market.
Think that affiliate marketing and luxury brands don’t get along? Think again!
A while ago I was reading a report on Raconteur – Looking at ‘The Beauty Economy’, from September 2015, I thought it would be useful to dive into why there is an increasing need for great affiliate programs for luxury beauty brands. If this was the case back in 2015, it is even more soon now.
As I personally work on exciting affiliate programs such as Charlotte Tilbury, I have been lucky enough to be involved in this ever growing market.
Raconteur lead to a report by Mintel, claiming that cosmetic sales reached £1.34 billion in 2015. (P.S. Mintel also produced a report showing what would be affecting the beauty industry for the next decade, it’s a killer read, and you can check it out here).
This is very possibly a direct result of the ‘lipstick effect’, the recent concept that people are likely to buy themselves cheap treats to cheer themselves up, in difficult financial times.
Although reports have shown a rise of new budget brands such as Kiko, 2016 was another stellar year for premium make-up brands, just like Charlotte Tilbury.
The beauty industry is growing on average between 5-6 percent per year. Yet, the beauty sector has often been pushed to the side or overlooked by the fashion industry, so it is time to treat this profitable sector with respect it deserves and in turn, look at how this can create a successful affiliate program.
It’s all in the mix
If you caught Richie’s top tips for a successful luxury fashion affiliate program, you will already be aware that having the right affiliate mix within any affiliate program is essential.
The mix is dependent on the target audience and the specific brand, which can as a result, affect what you are hoping to achieve from the program.
In general, affiliate programs would have a very even mix of content, cashback, voucher codes, loyalty, community and technology affiliates. For premium/luxury brands, especially a luxury brand like Charlotte Tilbury, this tends to be a little different, and with good reason!
With the emphasis on luxury and high quality, there is a major focus on protecting the brand image. Voucher codes are often thought to be detrimental to the brand image and when we are dealing with luxury, that is the last thing that we want.
It therefore makes sense to look to have a higher percentage of content site affiliates, as opposed to using generic ‘money off’ voucher codes. Any voucher codes that are used, need to be used strategically, only ever with an offer that will be in keeping and compliment the brand’s image appropriately.
Recently, we ran an exclusive code for a selection of affiliates, over the Chinese New Year period, and it was for free delivery. This type of voucher code does not ‘devalue’ the brand and can also be a really good incentive to increase the average order value as well, so is often a favourite for the luxury brand sectors.
It might seem to be a little mad as voucher code websites are popular revenue drivers, but for premium brands the use of them needs to be a little more careful and selective. It could be something as simple as choosing to likes of Vouchercodes.co.uk, who are seen as the most dominant in the industry at promoting exclusive offers.
The Launch of New Products
Whilst we can always rely on the bread and butter products, that are consistently popular, new product launches for a brand will always help create conversation. Whenever possible we need to be grabbing these new product launch opportunities with both hands.
It is also key to keep the cogs of the program moving with new rich content on a regular basis, along with up to date product feeds, banners, and creatives.
Most brands tend to only focus on these for example, when a new season launches if they are fashion focused or when there is a release of new product ranges in the beauty market. It is absolutely essential to have a well-executed plan of action and strategy in place, enabling you to jump at all of the relevant opportunities possible!
These new products mean that affiliate programs can be utilising their launches successfully through a number of exciting ways…
Competitions & Giveaways
Throughout the year there are stacks of opportunities available to brands. Some of the most popular ones for beauty brands are offering a giveaway or running a competition.
Giveaways usually work best when promoting a new product, and competitions are great for collecting data such as emails, which can then be used for marketing purposes.
As there are a limited number of ‘generic’ opportunities, with prime dates such as Mother’s Day being snapped up first. This goes hand in hand with meticulous forward planning, and being very aware of what is available and what is going to provide the best exposure.
Depending on budgets available within a brand, most will look to offer the opportunity to gift affiliates in exchange for the bloggers providing reviews on that product.
Programs usually see the most success from gifting when a new product has launched, as it will attract attention to the brand, but general brand awareness is also key to keep the program moving. It is important to note that this practice is mutually beneficially to the program and the blogger. Win-win!
It is often easier to get the lower tier bloggers on board to create blog posts and generate social exposure, but this becomes trickier when trying to approach the top dogs, the larger more influential ones. As expected, there is a noticeably bigger focus on payment and sponsored posts.
Still not convinced?
The rise of the beauty blogger
Blogging has exploded beyond all belief over the past couple of years.
A few years ago, bloggers were few and far between, today there are new blogs starting every day and they are covering every sector imaginable.
With the beauty market growing every day, competition in the bloggersphere is bigger than ever!
Yes, how people shop is affected by many external factors, but the rise of the beauty blogger is arguably the biggest influence at the moment.
Some of the top beauty bloggers in the UK currently include Pixiwoo, Zoella, British Beauty Blogger and Vivianna Does Makeup and these are just to name just a few. To have these types of premium influencers on an beauty affiliate program can be very effective if they are utilised in the right way.
More than anyone would like to admit, when they see a product being discussed by a number of people, it gathers momentum and people, whether they like it or not, are influenced by this.
We are naturally starting to see a slight decline in brand loyalty, as there are so many options available to customers now. To a customer if a product works and they like it, they will buy it and they may keep on buying it until a new shiny alternative comes along.
However true this may be of more affordable/budget brands, the premium brands will continue to have loyal customers, loyal in the fact that they will buy more so into the brand, than the actual products themselves.
As previously said, gifting beauty bloggers creates great opportunities. Recently, while managing the Charlotte Tilbury UK affiliate program, we capitalised on a great opportunity in regards to gifting.
We carefully selected a number of bloggers and contacted them informing them they could receive one of three packages of products for the Charlotte Tilbury range, including The Gift of Goddess Skin Travel Kit, which Stylonylon included in her Sunday edit.
A post from Dizzy Brunette 3, took a slightly different slant on reviewing the products and created a Christmas beauty gift guide for female relatives.
A gift guide of any description is the perfect way for bloggers to list their top picks, and give the products the right level of exposure that they require. In this case it was the ‘Nocturnal Cat Eyes set and Colour Chameleon pencil’ –which were absolutely perfect picks for the Christmas party season!
Both of the above bloggers helped to steer traffic towards the website in terms of both clicks and sales, tracked by Linkshare and rewardStyle. We also are able to increase brand awareness for Charlotte Tilbury, which is always a positive.
Moving forward, we will be able to utilise these influential bloggers for other affiliate campaigns which they are suited to. This is important because gathering a core group of bloggers and building relationships with these, can mean extra exposure for the brand without any extra cost.
The Kardashian effect
Brands rely on the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner (or any world famous celebrity to be honest) to help them generate sales – that’s because it works, FACT!
When they physically get involved with the brand, it’s even better!
Whether it be beauty, or even fashion, you throw two of the most famous sisters in the world, with a combination of 110.8 million Instagram followers into the mix, you are going to see some traction!
From the Charlotte Tilbury UK affiliate program, in November 2015, Kylie Jenner listed 3 of Charlotte Tilbury’s most iconic products, including the Filmstar Bronze & Glow, in her everyday make-up tutorial, which can be found at thekyliejenner.com.
This goes hand in hand with the noticeable rise in vloggers who also use their websites to post numerous clips, including tutorials and how to videos!
The conversation that was created around the brand caused a natural spike in sales. Combine this with key affiliates echoing the conversation in their exposure and you are on to a winner!
How can an affiliate program benefit?
If a blogger likes a product or not, it really does affect purchase decisions. When a product is liked and it receives a certain level of publicity, it will sell out.
We often see the savviest bloggers jump on posts like Kylie’s ‘Everyday Make-up Tutorial’, and review the same products themselves in their own posts. For a brand, this only amplifies the hype, usually with no extra cost.
Informing affiliates of any celebrity involvement will automatically create a buzz, as word of mouth is such a powerful thing, an extreme (but exciting) case of this is when a product goes viral and it sells out both online and in-store.
Overall, there are a number of essential components which make up a successful beauty affiliate program.
For the most part we must stick with the golden rule and look carefully at all types of affiliates who contribute to a beauty affiliate program, but more so than ever, we must put a lot more emphasis on content sites and the use of bloggers that comes hand in hand with this.
We simply cannot ignore the impact of creating a buzz around a brand or product can have for all channels, especially an affiliate program. We can in turn use this to organise some truly impactful campaigns for the program, whether it be advertorials, competitions or giveaways, and not to forget reviews.
So, the next time you purchase that amazing, must-have, new lipstick, that you have seen on everyone’s blogs and Instagram, remember, this was most likely the result of a well thought out campaign from a successful beauty affiliate program, which resulted in that lipstick resembling gold dust!