Whether it be a slow winter season or a pandemic, there comes a time for almost all brands where sales slow down and you want to increase sales of your beauty products quickly. While it might sound like a good solution to offer discounts, I’m here to urge you to think otherwise. Discounting your products is a dangerous and short-sighted strategy that’ll impact the way your customers perceive your brand in the long run.
If there’s one thing I want you to learn from this article, it’s that discounting your products whenever you want an instant bump in sales can result in some long-term consequences.
WHY YOU SHOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE DISCOUNTING YOUR PRODUCT:
Your profit margins will be significantly smaller:
Running a successful business isn’t easy. As a brand owner, if you choose to discount your products by 50%, how will that impact your sales revenue? To be able to reach your original revenue goals, you’d need to sell twice as much. Would you be able to do that and meet your quotas?
The pricing of your products has carefully factored in certain costs and risks like product damage, potential increases in ingredient pricing, employee salaries, marketing fees, giveaways, shipping, fulfillment, and much more. Discounting your products can really hurt your brand’s profit margins and leave your business at risk in the long-run.
It creates an expectation of future discounting:
Once you’ve opened the door of discounting, many customers will wait until your next sale before making another purchase. If you find your customers only purchasing during sales, that’s totally on you. It’s very easy to train customers to shop only during sales. Instead of encouraging bad habits, why not lead your customers to respect and value your products at their full price? Your brand and your products are worth it. Embody that mindset.
Your reputation for the long run is impacted:
Customers perceive the actual value of a product by the price they pay for it. By discounting your product, you’re also discounting the perceived value of your brand.
You may start cutting corners:
Brands that are constantly discounting their products need to find other ways to keep their businesses lucrative. Most of the time that involves cutting corners to lower their costs like sourcing from lower-quality manufacturers that ends up lowering the overall quality of what they sell. Don’t be that brand.
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Know the value of your business. If you want to keep the authority and reputation you’ve worked hard for, limit your discounting.
I typically advise my clients to limit to two discount campaigns a year maximum and make a really big deal out of those campaigns by priming them far in advance.
If you’re in a slump, there are other ways to make more sales other than discounting your product.
Here are 16 proven ways to increase short-term sales without devaluing the reputation of your brand:
BOGO sales are a win-win for both businesses and shoppers. A BOGO deal like “buy one get one 50% off” equates to 25% off the total order, but it feels like so much more.
Companies like TOMS and BeautyCounter swear by BOGO promotions like these.
There’s no doubt that a good BOGO promotion is one of the easiest ways to motivate customers to purchase more products and help them feel like they’re getting major value from their order. It turns out that 66% of shoppers prefer BOGO to all other kinds of discount promotions. What’s more, 93% of shoppers shared that they’ve taken advantage of a BOGO sale at least once.
Offering bundles is a strategy that’s similar to the BOGO concept. Bundles provide value to your customers who choose to buy multiple products from you. Bundles like gift sets and package deals are ideal for buyers looking for good deals or simply convenience.
Glossier is big on product bundles. They’ve even dedicated an entire tab called “Save on Sets” where they show exactly how much customers can save when they buy one.
By offering a small discount on a set of several products like 100 Percent Pure, you make your customers feel like they’re getting more value while generating sales for your business. Another great benefit of offering bundles is that it also ends up promoting products that your customers might have otherwise never thought about buying.
Baby care brands can also greatly benefit from offering bundles. Babo Botanicals offers a newborn and baby gift set that contains all the essential must-haves so moms can shop everything they need to wash, moisturize, and soothe their babies in one value-earning set.
Next Level: Another way to take your bundles to another level and experience steady sales is to offer your kits on a subscription basis. Menstrual care company Rael offers essential kits that can be renewed every month with an added 10% discount.
3. Consultation promos
This tip is a great promotion idea for brands that are lead by dermatologists, aestheticians, nutritionists, makeup artists or other industry experts.
There’s no single way to offer a consultation promo—it can involve a simple 10-15 minute consulting session with the expert behind the brand with a purchase of $200 or with a purchase of a deluxe comprehensive skincare set. Offering a quick consultation like a skin analysis or a makeup tutorial can excite customers to make a purchase and receive personalized value by purchasing from you.
During the consultation, you’ll also be able to get more information about your customers, understand who they are, and find out what their main concerns are in order to serve them better in the future.
If your brand isn’t founded by an aesthetician or medical professional, you can hire someone to give consultations on behalf of your brand.
Makeup brand Spectrum offers masterclass tutorials with certified makeup artists in exchange for certain purchase amounts.
Another benefit of offering a free consultation is that you have the chance to recommend more of your products that can help them, leading to more sales. The customer will also walk away with a more intimate connection to your brand.
Next Level: This is a great strategy for beauty professionals who want to serve their audiences digitally. #socialdistancinganyone?
4. Points programs
A customer loyalty program or rewards program is a marketing strategy that rewards loyal customers that frequently engage with a brand.
The points system focuses on the principle of the more you spend, the more points you’ll earn in return.
Every time a customer makes a purchase, they get a certain amount of points depending on how much they spent that they can use to earn exclusive perks.
Kopari has created a faithful customer base with Clique, their points program that offers exclusive discounts on their products using the Swell Rewards platform. They earn these after reaching certain monthly purchase amounts, leaving reviews on their products, and following their social media accounts.
Brooklinen also has a great two-tier rewards program. After spending $500, customers have access to their Platinum VIP program that comes with free goodies, early access to sales, and free shipping.
The advantage of point programs is that it’s easy to customize a version that works for you. Mented Cosmetics uses the Smile platform to incentivize their customers to follow their accounts on social and make orders in order for them to win points.
Glow Beauty offers their own point program known as the Glow Miles Program to offer unique experiences to their customers like being testers for new products and having exclusive early access to sales.
5. Referral programs
Most business owners would agree that word of mouth is the best way to grow your brand. Using referral marketing apps is a way to encourage customers to tell their network about your brand in the digital sphere.
A recent study found that 83% of customers are willing to refer a business’s services if they’re happy with their products. The reality is that only 29% of those people actually end up making the referral. That’s why creating an affiliate network for your e-commerce store is an essential step to growing your brand.
I can’t mention referral programs without talking about Harry’s. Harry’s is a grooming brand that launched a referral marketing campaign to help spread the word about their products. They created their “Milestone Referral Campaign” that features four different milestones with different instant prizes.
Referring 5 friends = free shave cream
Referring 10 friends = free razor
Referring 25 friends = free premium razor
Referring 50 friends = free shaving for a year
Using this referral campaign strategy, they gathered over 100,000 emails in a single week.
Affiliation systems are incredibly useful if you know how to use them to your advantage. There are many helpful referral apps like RefferalCandy that make it easy for customers to refer your brand with social integration. They also track the results across different platforms so you can know what’s working best.
Thrive Causemetics is an example of a brand that uses RefferalCandy to offer $10 off on purchases over $50 to each new customer that’s referred.
To conduct both referral marketing and points programs with one platform, Yotpo is a handy resource to keep on hand.
Another benefit is that you’re able to choose the types of rewards given to those affiliates who make referrals for you. That means you can adjust it to your current budget and find the best solution that works for your brand.
6. Up-sell, Down-sell, Cross-sell
When a customer is on your website, they’re in the mood to shop. This is your best chance to excite them about buying something. Up-selling, down-selling, and cross-selling are age-old strategies that increase the 1) average order value and 2) lifetime value of a customer. How? By presenting related products at higher prices (upselling), lower prices (down selling), and unrelated products (cross-selling) that customers may be interested in. Digital marketer Carl Ocab said, “many marketers swear that real profits are not in the first sale, but rather in the up-sell, cross-sell or down-sell.” The ideal strategy is creating a “related products” category in product descriptions or an abandoned cart email.
This is one of the most commonly-used strategies, and yet it’s still one of the most effective.
Think about how often this occurs:
- Fast food cashiers asking: “would you like fries with that?”
- Candy bars and magazines at the cash register in grocery stores.
- Shoe companies that sell socks in the same aisle.
- Related product sections in product pages.
- Beauty-on-the-go section at Sephora.
7. Create urgency
We all know that scarcity can lead to an increase in that “must-have” feeling and create a greater sense of value for an item. By setting up a deadline for your promotion or products, you can incentivize shoppers to take immediate action and to relieve their fears of missing out.
Biossance, a popular skincare brand, recently featured a promotion that included a free face oil and night serum with the purchase of one of their most expensive serums.
Another way to create scarcity is by offering seasonal products, anniversary edition versions of your current products, or limiting the production of a certain item (ex: only 20 bottles of this particular product per season). MAHALO is a great example of a brand that’s mastered the scarcity strategy, as they offer both limited-edition luxury skincare procured in a small batch production as well as seasonal products. Their seasonal skin balm, Winter Grace, for example, is made specifically to protect the skin against harsh climates and dry winter weather.
Brands can also create urgency around their beauty products by creating a waitlist for a pre-launch. Before Frank Body’s new shimmer body scrub was officially for sale, they managed to create such a craze around it that over 50,000 signed themselves up on their waitlist in anticipation of buying it.
Another opportunity to offer a waitlist is for “sold out” products. MegaBabe’s deodorant becoming sold out resulted in a 5,000 person waitlist.
8. Offer free shipping instead.
It’s no secret that people love free things. Considering the fact that over 60% of carts abandoned are because of shipping-related reasons, offering free shipping can be a solid strategy to consider implementing to boost sales for your online business. If done strategically, for example, exclusively with a minimum order total, you can persuade customers to make their purchase without cutting your profits. Research shows that more than 46% of customers are open to paying a little more for their overall order if it means they’re going to be eligible for free shipping.
The key is to offer a promotion that’s also financially feasible for you. For some, the most reasonable option might be to limit free shipping to domestic orders only so you can avoid the costly fees of international shipments like MUN Skin who offers free domestic shipping on orders over $75.
9. Revamp your product description
You may not want to hear this, but there’s always the possibility that the slump in sales has to do with a lack of clarity in what you’re proposing. Before you consider discounting your product, ask yourself this: does your description include all the necessary information for your prospects to make their decision? Is the messaging targeted, or is it trying to reach everybody, and therefore, in effect, reaching nobody? Are the ingredients all listed clearly? If not, consider adding more rich content like videos that demonstrate your product in action, an FAQ section that clarifies a few important benefits and features, or testimonials of past customers.
10. Cross-promoting & collaborations
What brand wouldn’t want to expand their reach? Cross promoting and collaborating are simple marketing tactics to grow your customer base without any expensive ad campaigns.
There are so many non-profits, influencers, and complimentary brands out there that would love to collaborate with you.
Creating exclusive discounts for partners (podcasts, influencers, beauty event members, etc.) adds visibility to your brand and offers your new audience an exclusive insider’s deal.
There’s no one-size-fits-all model to this strategy. Businesses of all kinds can incorporate cross-promoting and collaborations into their marketing plan:
- McDonald’s Happy Meals promoting the release of a new children’s movie.
- The Loli Beauty x Natch Beaut skincare collaboration.
- The latest Victoria’s Secret x For Love and Lemons lingerie collab.
- The Poosh x Hora CBD skincare serum.
- Kellogs cereal featuring an Olympic athlete on their boxes.
- Victoria Beckham x Augustinus Bader’s priming moisturizer.
- Athletic Greens offering Tim Ferriss’s podcast listeners an exclusive promo.
All you need is a platform like OptinMonster that makes it easy to create coupons to launch a new collaborative marketing campaign. Not ready to invest in an affiliate program? Using Bitly to create custom links for each collaborative partner is a great workaround hack that can get you started.
Minis are a great way to encourage more sales from customers who are still hesitating about committing to buying your product. By selling minis of your products, you encourage customers to test your products to assure them to buy the full-sized version once they see how it works for themselves. And unlike sending free samples, offering minis at mini prices allows you to earn small profits, or at the very least, not lose any.
You can offer travel-friendly sizes, or follow a similar strategy to Paula’s Choice by offering single-use sample sizes.
The prices you choose to sell them are up to you. 100 Percent Pure offers samples for $5 each while offering the option to get 2 for free with all purchases over $45 in value.
I chose to do a similar strategy with my fragrance brand, Nomaterra, by offering an adventure set. When customers purchase the Adventure Set, the $35 they spend on the set goes to store credit for a limited time if they choose to place an order on a full-sized perfume. While this is a high cost to our brand, this promotion allows our customers to test our fragrances and give them the confidence to make a purchase.
12. Payment plans
Instead of discounting your product, you can use payment plans to make it easier for your customers to do some instant online shopping. Paying in small installments with apps like AfterPay are game-changers for retailers. Options like payment plans encourage more purchases from your customers while removing concerns about breaking the bank.
Considering 63% of millennials don’t own credit cards, it’s no wonder why beauty brands like Biossance and Morphe are turning to options like AfterPay to offer a payment option that’s free of fees and interest.
13. Annual and Bi-Annual Sales
Offering frequent sales will only train your customers to wait for your products to be discounted before making a purchase. But if you’re still convinced of discounting your products, there’s a smart way to do so that doesn’t involve most of the downsides I mentioned earlier. The key is doing it rarely. By offering sales annually or bi-annually, you can still excite your customers without sacrificing your reputation or the perceived value of your products.
The time of year that you offer your sales is also something to keep in mind. Since big companies tend to outshine smaller brands during large events like Black Friday, you can take advantage of that by strategically launching your big promotions around a less busy time, like mid-summer. You can call it “Black Friday in Summer.” Create a four-week campaign around the sale, like you would with Black Friday. By basing your own campaign extravaganza time during a less expected moment, you’ll have the spotlight on your brand.
Ulta Beauty offers bi-annual sales that are strategically held in the middle of March and September. Their 21 Days of Beauty Sale features major discounts that change every day throughout the sale.
Similar to Nordstroms, SkinStore chooses to hold their annual sale on their anniversary in March. The entire sale lasts 13 days and features discounts on 17 of their products.
14. Cart Abandonment Emails
Incentivize new shoppers to make a purchase by following up with them after they’ve left your site with unpurchased products in their shopping carts.
Sending prospects abandoned cart reminders is a simple and under-appreciated strategy to close in more purchases. According to recent statistics, an average of 69% of online shopping carts are abandoned daily. The good news is that cart abandonment emails are opened 45% of the time. More than 20% of those users end up revisiting their cart, while 50% of them make a purchase.
15. Gift With Purchase
To increase sales of your beauty products, consider offering a free gift when they spend over a certain amount. This strategy can persuade customers who are on the fence without costing you your reputation as a quality beauty brand.
To boost sales, the care brand Carol’s Daughter is offering a free gift on orders over $50. Charlotte Tilbury is also offering a free mini makeup product to customers who spend over $95 on their website.
To use this strategy for your beauty business, all you have to do is choose your order total of choice. Then, decide on a product to offer, whether it’s a mini product or an item that hasn’t been selling as much as you’d like. Add a date limit of your promotion to create a sense of urgency, and share the news.
16. Buy One, Give One
Enabling your customers to participate in activism and charity are two ways to help them exercise their purchase power and feel proud about shopping from you.
For each purchase of their promotional pin, a modern menstrual care brand Honey Pot donates two panty liners and a pad.
Thrive Causemetics is another example of a charitable brand, sporting a tagline of “changing the beauty industry for good.” With each purchase, the company offers false eyelashes for cancer-fighting women who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.
Beauty brand Fempower Beauty is known for their buy-one-give-one motto. They offer one of their lipsticks to a woman in need with every lipstick purchased.
If your product isn’t simple to donate, you can also team up with a charity or organization whose cause you admire and donate a part of your proceeds to them. You don’t need to donate proceeds of each purchase; instead, consider dedicating a single product to donate proceeds from. The ayurvedic skincare brand Sahajan partnered with the Because I Am A Girl campaign to donate education funds for young girls worldwide with the purchase of their Lip Karma lip balm.
Fempower Beauty is another charitable beauty brand that donates one lipstick with every purchase to a woman in need and empower her to feel beautiful.
Promotions that are being utilized smartly during a pandemic
It’s no question that the coronavirus pandemic is hurting the economy. Some beauty brands are finding ways to stand out while helping their customers to give back to their community during this pandemic.
For example, Tula Beauty is donating a medical mask to a healthcare provider with a purchase of one of their skincare face masks.
Meanwhile, Fempower Beauty is offering a free coloring book to boost the morale of their customers. They also connected this with a giveaway to grow their brand awareness- by sharing their art on social media, they’re entered for a chance to win a set of their lipstick.
So there you have it. 16 proven ways to increase sales of your beauty products without discounting. Do you have a favorite method? Drop me a comment. I’d love to know!
Want help implementing the right promotion for your beauty brand? Schedule a discovery call with AB Creative here.
Written by Keemia Kaboli