When you think of the most successful makeup brands today, you know you can find them on the shelves at the most popular retailers: Sephora, Ulta, or alongside designer brands at your local department store. In fact, we’ve come to expect that any profitable makeup brand should have a leg up with these big name stores, which provide a platform for their success. But there’s one brand that’s blowing all of that out of the water, and proving that success comes down to customer satisfaction and online reviews.
Meet Fièra Cosmetics: a makeup company that specializes in aging skin. This niche isn’t the only way that they’re doing things differently. They’ve made an intra-company pact to not sell in any retail locations, despite how tempting many brands will make that business move out to be. “We made a choice early on not to fall whim to the expensive store markups and the pay-to-play model that’s embedded in this type of retailer relationship,” explained Kate Duff, Fièra’s branding coordinator. “We knew that if our product was truly great, the selling would happen for us, through word of mouth.”
How to Mimic This in Your Own Business
Duff and Fièra Cosmetics are assuredly onto something. After all, if all of your friends can’t stop gushing about a product, aren’t you going to order it however you can? There’s never been a better time for this shift, thanks to COVID-19 and the changing landscape as to how consumers shop. Usually, consumers would discover new brands on a stroll through makeup and department stores, whether they stumbled into the aisles for fun or came to purchase something else. But e-commerce is on the rise, and consumers still don’t feel comfortable returning to in-person shopping malls. And, while having your product on a major website like that of Sephora’s seems like a savvy business move – is it? How often do consumers really browse through dozens of brands on these major websites?
“We thought about it in terms of where we wanted to allocate the business’s money,” Duff explained. “Every business has two options: either pay to rub shoulders with the ‘big brand dogs,’ or re-allocate that money into making a truly stellar product.” Duff’s theory is that a high-quality and deeply-beloved product will always win out in the marketing race over a product that has premier shelf space. And it’s a theory that’s proving to be true, as Fièra’s monthly sales have over doubled since the beginning of 2020. That’s the power of word-of-mouth marketing: it has a ripple effect, and extends outward like a web.
Their Biggest Lessons in Scaling a Successful Product
“The biggest thing that our team has learned in business so far is that if you really listen to your customers and give them the best products possible to suit their needs, the rest will take care of itself,” Duff explained. “We created a product for mature skin and filled a hole in the market. We also created that product really, really well.”
Duff went on, “You don’t have to do business the way everyone else does anymore! The internet has really permitted all business owners to do business their own way, as long as they have a great product that can back it up.”
Fièra operates entirely online, which has continued to boom through the pandemic. They promise free shipping and a money-back guarantee on returns, which eliminates any concerns around buying-before-trying.
How to Support Word-of-Mouth Marketing of Your Product
As Duff has stressed, the best way to spur word-of-mouth marketing amongst your customers is to create a product worthy of being recommended!
To make sure this is being done well, LISTEN to your customer base, and make changes based on their feedback. Fièra is very transparent with their customer reviews on their website, confidently committing their ‘Results’ tab to specifically what customers are saying. Hundreds and hundreds of honest reviews are there for the reading. This bold stake bridges word of mouth marketing – new customers, or those who are just browsing, can read firsthand from other customers, and get the recommendation from them ‘directly’.
As for building a loyal customer base, Fièra practices what they preach. “Rather than having the airbrushed, photoshopped, young models that other makeup brands feature, we actually have models that represent our customer alias!” Duff explained. “Women aged 60-70 grace our website imagery.”
Take it from Fièra: gone are the days that you need serious cash to get in with the big name retailers. All you need is your laptop and a truly great product. Get it into the hands of customers who need it most, and you’re in great shape – as long as you continue to listen to them and create high-quality products for them.