Marketing in the beauty business has long been fueled by sampling, with brands handing out itty-bitty products to skeptical women. Total Beauty Media Group, a large online beauty publisher, is getting in the game, charging $15 for a selection of high-end samples.
While the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company has done more than its share of sampling in the past, this new program is different “in that we’re presenting the samples in a much more innovative way,” Ethelbert Williams, head of marketing, Total Beauty Media Group, tells Marketing Daily.
Consumers pay $15 for each collection, which includes “between four and six larger, juicy samples, with enough for three or four applications,” he says. And there’s a new media twist: “People come to us to learn about products, with 58% of our audience saying they come to us to seek out the best brand of mascara, for example. So we’re encouraging them to review the products we’ve curated for them, to become part of that conversation.”
For marketers, who do not pay to be included in the program, it’s “an opportune time to get on her shopping list, and she’s doubly qualified—not only is she actively seeking samples, she’s willing to pay to get them.”
And for Total Beauty, which likes to describe itself as the WebMD of the beauty world, it’s a chance to extend its credibility about new products and innovation. “User comments on these new products enhance our content,” he says. As they do so, they’ll be rewarded with incentives and offers for full-sized product. At this point, the company says, its sites contain hundreds of thousands of user-generated reviews, spanning 45,000 products. Brands such as Pixi, Alterna, Blinc, and Murad have already signed on.
The company recently polled consumers about the impact of sampling, and found that 84% will recommend a brand after sampling, 80% will talk about it online, 76% say it improves the perception of the brand, and 60% plan to purchase it.
While the field is a crowded one, says Williams, who has worked on beauty products at both Procter & Gamble and Unilever, “most consumers are disappointed after they get the third or fourth box. We’re confident we can keep the quality up, and it seems like a fantastic extension of our brand. Sampling is still relevant, even in 2012, and the level of community engagement we’ll get makes it perfect for our sites.”