Estée Lauder Sees Success in COVID Era with Livestreaming

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Interactivity, fun, engagement and education are all tied together in the phenomenon of livestreaming commerce, the digital equivalent of a direct selling television channel but with a hip extreme makeover, an Estée Lauder executive told attendees at NRF 2021’s Chapter 1 virtual event.

Ophelia Ceradini, VP of the Digital Technology and Innovation Group for The Estée Lauder Companies, said with stores closed due to the pandemic, the company still wanted a way to give customers a personalized and interactive experience. The found livestreaming was the perfect venue to deliver this in both one-to-many and one-to-one sessions.

“I think it’s been a more entertaining experience for the consumer,” Ceradini said. “In the end, consumers want education to be a part of it, and they want shopping. The beauty of livestreaming is you can have interaction even in a one-to-many session by chatting and asking questions of our moderators. And they’re able to have the instant gratification of watching the show and adding to their cart right then and there.”

Ceradini said Estée Lauder has seen double-digit growth in livestreaming sales of its makeup and skincare products, and is looking to expand into fragrances and hair care.

Experts such as makeup artists that had been working in stores are now doing livestreaming as product experts, she said, demonstrating how a product is used and how it looks. Having authenticity and personality are key elements to success. “They’re very engaging and educational, and consumers love that,” she said. “They want to know how to use it, what the ingredients are, and it’s done in a very personable way.”

Liyia Wu, founder and CEO of livestreaming app platform ShopShops, said the company has seen tremendous growth, with projections of more than tripling its sales to $60 or $70 million in 2021, after 3x growth in 2019. The company mostly does business in the Chinese market but just had its U.S. debut last fall with retail partner Rebecca Minkoff, plus a deal with mall operator Simon Property Group.

The majority of ShopShops’ audience are millennial mothers aged 25 to 40, she said, and it is running about 700 events a month currently around the world.

“We’re seeing growth in other categories (besides beauty) including food and home goods, and the younger generations are adapting to collectibles,” Wu said. “And we’ve seen a surge in discounted luxury. So, livestreaming can expand into others areas. It’s more efficient than traditional ecommerce, and the audience has a real sense of content created by experts or people who are interesting, plus it’s shoppable at same time.”

Ceradini said Estée Lauder has also been rolling out augmented reality worldwide and experimenting with gamification, and she sees a natural synergy with both of them and livestreaming.

“I think about all three technologies in a similar fashion – they’re all entertaining and engaging, and the user wants to keep coming back to it,” she said. “The future of this is less about thinking of them as silos, but more about incorporating them all together into one experience for the consumer that’s beneficial, interactive and educational, where they can try things on and have fun.”