Borrowed Light. What can retailers learn from the Beauty Industry’s focus on the power of online influence to drive engagement and sales?

In our Biglight Briefing on 5th August, we explored the lessons retail brands can learn from the beauty industry and its rapidly evolving approaches to building online customer engagement – crucially not just how beauty brands tap into highly engaged online communities, but also how they close the loop to convert engagement into sales.

We were fortunate to be joined by Deborah Stead, Founder & CEO of Deborah Stead Associates, UK market lead & DTC consultant at L’Occitane Group’s Duolab, Jane Cunningham, beauty journalist and content creator at, and Hanna Langley, Head of Client Services at brand performance agency, Threepipe Reply.

Each was able to draw on real world experiences to explore this topic from complementary perspectives and one thing became abundantly clear during the session: The beauty industry’s shift away from traditional paid media approaches to instead harness the power of online influence and digital marketing has been more journey than step change.

There is much retailers facing a digital first reality can learn from success and missteps along the way:

  • How celebrity endorsement on social channels like Twitter and Instagram failed to sustain early successes – consumers quickly reached saturation point, instead seeking out the credible, authoritative viewpoints of independent bloggers and ‘super-user’ peers online.
  • How independent influencers build engaged communities, and why the most successful influencer strategies are built on working not necessarily with the biggest influencers, but those with credible and relevant voices for specific consumer segments.
  • How changing customer needs – skin care is now preferred to ‘make-up’, an increased focus on ethical standards and product ingredients – means beauty brands must constantly innovate in everything from product and packaging design to humanising and simplifying the online customer experience.
  • Why integrating digital marketing with influencer marketing and social selling is crucial to closing the loop between engagement and sales, and minimising leakage in the journey from influencer or social recommendation to purchase.

If you couldn’t make the session, you don’t have to miss out on these insights and more. You can watch the whole session here – and we hope you find it as interesting and enjoyable as we did. 

A big thank you to Deborah, Jane and Hannah for taking part and to our partners Tech Circus and Threepipe Reply for their support.