For Fashion and Beauty Brands, Diversity Is More than Skin Deep


Customer experience starts before your customers reach out to you—if they feel uncomfortable or excluded by your product range, advertising, or any other factor, you’ve already lost the chance to build a relationship. New fashion and beauty brands are overtaking legacy offerings by taking advantage of underserved markets, building on those lost relationships and offering a better experience.

Beauty brands specifically are reaching a wider audience by diversifying their color palettes and offering hair and skincare products that suit a greater variety of textures and shades. For new companies, this approach is capturing the attention of customers who have felt left out, and for more established ones, it’s allowing them to grow audiences in new demographics using their existing brand caché.Legacy beauty has historically focused on creating palettes for light skin while creating only a few or no options for other skin types. New beauty has taken the opposite approach, appealing to those customers who have felt left out for decades. Rihanna’s uber-popular Fenty Beauty has made a name for itself by offering a more diverse product range. That includes 40 shades of foundation, which puts most of beauty’s biggest names to shame.

Sephora (a fellow LVMH brand) called Fenty “the most inclusive beauty brand in the world,” and it was dubbed “Invention of the Year” by TIME.

Fenty’s approach has already more than paid off. Fenty Beauty’s customers are some of the biggest spenders on beauty products in general, spending an average of $471 a year on makeup according to a report by Slice Intelligence.

A similar story has been unfolding in the fashion space, but not around the color of customers’ skin. Instead, it’s been around body-type. Legacy fashion brands have historically only offered a narrow range of sizes up to around size 12, limiting their appeal to only a handful of body types. But today, two-thirds of American women are above size 14. This means that these legacy brands are holding themselves back from a market worth $20 billion (and growing).

New brands like Universal Standard offer a range of sizes, from 00 – 32, making sure no one is left out and winning customers and praise in the process. Good American Denim sells their extensive size range in a single place, not relegating them to a separate plus-size section. These brands lead with positivity and acceptance, rather than the traditional snobbery and exclusiveness some luxury fashion brands have grown a reputation for.

However, some traditional apparel brands are picking up on the trend as well. Target has seen great success after launching an extended size range in 2015, and Nike credits its expanded size range as one the main factors boosting their bottom line. Expanding your size range can be expensive, but lucrative luxury brands like Gucci have no excuse for not keeping up.

The lesson for established brands is clear: delivering a relevant experience to an ignored customer base can yield dividends.

3 Examples of Conversational Experience

It’s good to have a conversation with your customers, but talking alone isn’t enough. Encouraging customers to contact you over their preferred channels means you need to be ready to respond just as fast as their closest friends. Often, conversations can go in different directions. Sometimes customers may be trying to make a return when what they really need is an exchange. Or they may decide to buy a new product in the middle of asking about a different one. That means that conversational commerce and conversational service are two sides of the same coin. If you want to engage your customers on a 1-1 basis and in real time, then your entire customer experience needs to be part of the conversation. A truly conversational experience is hard to find, but we’ve shared some examples from Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece in Forbes to give you a better idea:

Example 1: IoT

Problem: Your customer’s smart speakers aren’t connecting to WiFi.

Conversational Solution:

  • Your proprietary app brings up an FAQ article when it detects that your customer is not connecting to WiFi.
  • Your automated customer service platform sends an email with an instructional video and support desk information if it detects that your customer has reset their device three times or more.
  • You assign customers who have had multiple problems with high-priority when they call your customer service number so they connect to an agent quickly.
  • Your agent knows that they’ve already received the FAQ and video because your platform gives them a single view of the customer. With that, they can skip ahead to advanced troubleshooting so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the same steps.

Example 2: Meal Delivery Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs to change their subscription and delivery dates.

Conversational Solution:

  • If the customer has to change their delivery location or date, a chatbot or automated solution should instantly handle these simple tasks.
  • If the request is more logistically complicated, like pausing for a week then delivering to a different location, the request should be elevated to an agent.
  • If the request is more complex than that, like changing dietary requirements, agents should get on the phone and consult with them 1-1 to deliver the best possible experience.

Example 3: Clothing Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs a more consultative experience.

Conversational Solution:

  • If customers are asking for a simple request like changing the date of the delivery, agents should ask questions and get more information.
  • If there is a bigger reason, like they’re getting a new job, then an agent should be empowered to step up and act like a stylist to pick more formal options.
  • This more hands-on experience encourages customers to upgrade to a higher subscription tier in the future.

Read the full Forbes article here.

To see how can deliver a truly conversational experience with Kustomer, request a demo today!

How DTC Strategies Are Shaking Up Fashion

As direct-to-consumer business models become more popular, different industries are finding their own ways to make these kinds of experiences work for them. This has been especially true for the fashion industry. By cutting out markups, leveraging digital technologies, and promoting radical transparency, dozens of new fashion brands are succeeding with DTC. We’ve taken a look at the unique ways specific fashion verticals are taking their products straight to customers, and how they’re differentiating themselves from the legacy brands that came before them.

Whitepaper: The DTC Approach – 4 Aspects to Master

Denim: Simplified Selection and a Digital Storefront

Some products are timeless, but are the brands that sell them timeless enough to survive in the modern retailing world?

The traditional retail model means denim companies like 7 For All Mankind source their designs and fabrics from numerous designers and mills. They stock products their designers and buyers believe customers will like, but aren’t close enough to customers to bet on a handful of choice designs. Instead, like most retailers, they take a shotgun approach. Dozens of slightly different fabrics, cuts, and details make shopping for new jeans harrowing and downright consumer unfriendly. National retail outlets require huge warehouses and supply chains to keep locations stocked with all the varied styles, driving up costs for the end-buyer.

Younger luxury brand DSTLD sells premium denim and elevated basics direct to the consumer and is primarily online (with limited pop-up stores that let customers experience the brand in person). By selling direct, DSTLD is able to focus on quality rather than quantity. Their collection is easy to browse with a color palette of just black, white, grey, and blue. A reasonable price tag is a fair trade for a lesser-known brand name and limited retail stores—plus they use the same factories as many designer labels. DSTLD even allows true fans to invest in the company, ensuring that the brand will remain true to their customers as they grow—because they have direct financial control.

Focusing on a few good items done right at a fair price point is key to tapping into modern shopping trends, and encourages brand loyalty and repeat business by making clothes that become an essential part of customers’ wardrobes. Huge selections and hundreds of retail outlets are no longer likely to breed success.

Designer Fashion: A Closet in the Cloud

While the previous example focused on delivering a product, the new normal for retail also means fundamental changes in behavior. One of the biggest shifts: changing attitudes about ownership. Airbnb, Lyft, and WeWork all meet a desire to pay less in exchange for giving up sole possession. Why own a car when it’s so convenient to ride in someone else’s? Why stay in a hotel when you can stay in someone’s house for less? Rent the Runway provides a similar solution for your wardrobe. Why buy a new dress for every one of your friends’ weddings when you can rent one for a tenth of the cost?

With Rent the Runway, customers can get the same high-quality designer clothing, but without having to own it forever. If you don’t want to show up to every wedding of the season in the same thing, renting just makes more sense, and allows customers more choice and flexibility—they can get a much more expensive piece without worrying about the price tag.

RTR’s direct-to-consumer model adds value that a department store like Macy’s just can’t without majorly restructuring some of their current practices. Without the costly overhead of hundreds of national storefronts, RTR can deliver and scale a new kind of in-store experience without orienting their entire business around it.

Pre-Loved Fashion: Sustainable Style

Millennial consumers don’t feel the stigma of pre-owned items like previous generations. They’re more likely to embraced pre-owned fashion due to its sustainability (and lower cost), leading to a robust market for secondhand goods. New sites like Grailed, theRealReal, and TrueFacet are filling the gaps left between the small, independent, highly-curated boutiques offering clothes and furniture in most major cities. However, Material World offers a service that goes a step further than any of these.

Material World will pay customers for their pre-owned designer clothing up front—making it easy to trade in your lightly-worn items for hard cash. Yet this is just one piece of a bigger system. The Material Box is a subscription service that ships an outfit handpicked by a stylist every month straight to your door. You’re not just getting a sustainable, designer outfit for a fraction of the price, you’re getting unique and totally personalized styling services. The stylist who works with them knows the entire history of their purchases and interactions, meaning they can provide deep and contextual service. That’s a benefit you won’t find at even the most upscale boutique. The box can then be used to send back their own clothing, replenishing their old pre-owned clothes with new ones. Material World supports an ethical system that diminishes waste and elevates the benefits of pre-owned clothing, creating an experience that’s even more appealing and streamlined than buying a designer outfit for yourself.

As the DTC model becomes more popular, the variety and creativity of new DTC brands will only increase. The principles for CX success are clear, no matter which industry you’re in:

  • Adapt to changing customer expectations
  • Always push to innovate with new technology
  • Look beyond the old ways of doing things to find cheaper, faster alternatives

If you can do that, you’re sure to delight your customers and improve their experience. Learn some more aspects of the DTC approach that can help you deliver better service in our whitepaper.

How Beauty Brands Can Use Customer Experience as a Differentiator

How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry

The growing number of beauty brands fighting for market share are all looking for an edge. Whether it’s standout branding, a breakthrough product, or a unique story—to succeed, you have to get your customers’ attention. However, there is one surefire way of separating yourself from the pack: Service.

Download whitepaper: How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry

Glossier’s gTeam is a CX Dream Team

New beauty brands have found that service can solidify relationships with their customers. Glossier’s gTeam is a best-in-class example. The dedicated staff of editors (Glossier’s special designation for service employees, rather than “agent” or “associate”) work to deliver personal, one-to-one service to their devoted fanbase.

The team works directly with the marketing and product development departments, providing advice on how to improve R&D and drive brand loyalty and repeat business thanks to their insight from working in direct contact with customers.

“Instead of limiting interactions with customer service, which is the norm in the industry, we strive to create conversations with our customers,” says Jessica White, Executive Director of Customer Experience, in a recent exclusive with Digiday.

Learn more about how Kustomer helps Glossier’s gTeam win a devoted following in this whitepaper.

Sephora’s Experience Transcends Digital and Physical

Beauty retailer Sephora has made real investments in uniting their physical and digital store operations into a single unit to deliver a 360-degree experience in-store and online. “If a customer browsed online then bought in store, we can see that. We just weren’t looking at it before, but it’s a win for both channels,” says Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora’s SVP of Digital, “We’re more aligned, and we can move faster across in-store, online and mobile strategies. Mobile is the glue that holds it all together.”

Now Sephora’s popular in-store makeovers have an added digital element. Makeup artists log each product they use in the Sephora app, so that customers can use it as a shopping list later online or at the counter. Similarly, customers can now use Sephora’s Virtual Artist augmented reality tool for to purchase the products they’ve “tried on” virtually in the app online, or find out where they’re located in-store.

Combining these teams helps drive customer loyalty, combining the perks of both channels and pooling data to deliver more-personalized recommendations and offers. “My new team brings loyalty to the forefront since we’re better positioned to understand customers across channels,” said Laughton, “Loyalty is a data-driven ecosystem, so that’s hugely powerful.”

A Truly Beautiful Experience

A smarter experience across digital and brick-and-mortar touchpoints goes a long way towards cementing your relationships with customers. In a space with as much competition and personal attachment as beauty, standing out with a next-level experience is crucial for retaining an edge over the competition. And no matter the channel, agents need to be equipped and empowered to take the experience further and truly delight your customers.

Download whitepaper: How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry

14 Great Gifts for Valentine’s Day

As enjoyable to get as they are to give

V Day isn’t far off, so if you haven’t already, it’s time to start thinking about what you’re getting your special someone — or, hey, what’s a better excuse to treat yourself?

At Kustomer, we’re all about amazing experiences, so here are some suggestions for great presents you’ll enjoy getting just as much as you will giving:

1: Fab Fit Fun

A subscription box that contains full-size beauty, fitness, and fashion products, it’s a perfect choice for a Valentine that wants to feel good and look great (and who doesn’t?).

2. Glossier

Ultra hip beauty brand Glossier has a slate of must-buy products that make perfect gifts. Their Balm Dotcom skin salve and Glossier You perfume are easy choices for anyone in your life who loves looking (and smelling) their best.

3. Parachute Home

“If you love someone, let them sleep” says Parachute’s homepage, and their high-quality bedding and textiles are sure to help you get 40 winks and more. If new sheets aren’t quite romantic enough, then their bathrobes, slippers, and candles will all make for an extra cozy Valentine’s.

4. Urban Stems

Who doesn’t love flowers? Urban Stems makes it easy to send fresh, seasonally appropriate arrangements all over the country.

5. Cuyana

Cuyana is all about the essentials, so what’s better than a gift that someone can use every day? Their leather bags, accessories, and sustainable clothing are all sure to become mainstays for your Valentine.

6. Modern Relik

Modern Relik is an interior design-driven furniture brand creating amazing pieces that bridge timeless elegance and modern sensibility. Their Valentine’s Day Collection includes pink tassel napkins, a jeweled heart box, and crystal napkin rings.

7. Outdoor Voices

For the sporty couple, Outdoor Voices has inspired activewear to get you from cuddling on the couch to embracing the outdoors. Stretchy warmup leggings for her, breezy shorts for him.

8. Hawthorne

For the man who would a appreciate a signature scent, Hawthorne lets buyers take a quick quiz to pick a pair of designer colognes that fit their taste, style, and body chemistry. Finally, a way to help the men in your life smell great without wandering around the perfume aisle until your eyes water.

9. Birchbox

For the beauty brand lover who likes variety, Birchbox is the perfect way to try all sorts of skincare and makeup products before you buy. Now offering a box for men, as well as women!

10. Adore Me

It’s not easy shopping for lingerie, but Adore Me cuts out the stress by creating a wide range of fits and sizes so that everyone can find the perfect piece. Finally, a lingerie brand that knows that looking good shouldn’t feel uncomfortable.

11. Bluefly

Designer style has never been more attainable, but Bluefly puts it just a few clicks away. Outfit your Valentine with clothes, shoes, and bags from Prada, Balenciaga, Ferragamo and more with discounts of up to 80% off.

12. Scentbird

Perfume and cologne can be a big commitment, especially as a gift — one large bottle could last over a year! Take out the pressure of picking the perfect scent by giving a subscription to Scentbird instead. The service lets you pick a different bottle each month that you can store in a refillable case, so your Valentine never has to commit.

13. Fenty Beauty

Rihanna’s beauty line is making major waves by offering a more diverse palette for every skin tones, as well as just having great, high-quality products. Her Plush Matte Lipstick can be seen all over Instagram and the red carpet.

14. Feastly

If all else fails, take them to dinner—and with Feastly, you get a premium chef’s table experience that goes beyond the usual restaurant fare. Just browse the options near you, book, pay, and eat. Voila!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Kustomer — we love you as much as you love your customers (which is hopefully a lot).

Want to learn more about Kustomer? Check out how we can help you deliver great customer experiences here.

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