Nowadays the way we market things have become incredibly different with the digital transition. What is noticeable about this transition however is that word of mouth has always played a role. In the past people used to talk to each other and give advice or opinions on products and services. The same happens now too, but in a different way, as we all seem to search for products online and therefore the interaction takes place online as well.
Online word-of-mouth can happen online in several ways. It goes without saying that people are exposed to brands on a daily basis more often than they realize. Common methods of digital word-of-mouth are rating and reviews. A company that takes great advantage of that is Sephora. This French cosmetic market leader has embraced a digital strategy by using both methods and they even go beyond that. A whole community, called BeautyTalk, has been built since 6 years ago and kept active by its loyal users.
Taking part in the Sephora community is easy: register an account and you’re ready to go. BeautyTalk is a community in which people review products, give opinions and discuss products. With almost a million forum posts as of today (Sephora, 2016), its community is the largest for people interested in cosmetic products. Sephora initially offered a rating and review system but launched BeautyTalk in 2010 by partnering with Lithium.
The positive aspect of this huge interactive community is that questions can be answered almost immediately. Consumers can ask specific questions in specific chat areas through which they can receive advice from fellow consumers on whether they should purchase a certain product for example. The more negative aspect of such a community is of course that written topics are not always as positive about Sephora as they would like. Complaints about Sephora or its product are also posted online and seen by many of its users.
Now the question is, how does Sephora take advantage of this digital community?
Firstly, it’s important to realize that there are different reasons for people to participate in such a community. Beside that users can earn glory or recognition from posting online, Sephora also offers incentives to post online. Hearts are added to customer accounts based on the frequency of their posts. This ranking system motivates people to get a higher status. This in turn leads to more loyal customers. Of course, it’s usually the so-called “superfans” that usually write reviews, but the lurkers are of siginicant importance, as shown by the statistics that have been gathered.
Accounts of the BeautyTalk users are usually linked to their social media accounts and Sephora loyalty cards. This gives the company insight into their customers’ online social activity and their shopping preferences and the opportunity to access user metrics that they would not be able to track without the BeautyTalk community. Such metrics include what content they view to benchmarks of user behavior. It has been revealed that users of the bulletin board spend 2.5 times more on Sephora products than the average customer (Ungerleider, 2014). This way Sephora can reach out to their biggest fans and at the same time there is also a great platform to reach them on.
It’s a win-win situation for both!
Sephora (2016) BeautyTalk, http://community.sephora.com, 10-03-2016.
Ungerleider, N. (2014) How sephora discovered that lurkers are also its “superfans”, http://www.fastcompany.com/3035236/how-sephora-discovered-that-lurkers-are-also-its-superfans, 11-03-2016.