It's a big month for us, as L'Oréal - the world's largest cosmetics company - launches a new customer acquisition programme using the Buyapowa platform. We'll be helping some of their best-loved brands to bring peer-to-peer selling - a cosmetics industry tactic ever since Victorian times - beautifully up to date.
It couldn't come at a better time, with the challenge of acquiring new customers growing more and more difficult for the skincare and beauty industry every day. Shoppers are blinded by the flood of pharma-jargon spewing out of billboards and tv adverts ("five times more prettiness particles than other brands!"). Meanwhile, new players and hipster indies come to market every day, creating such an avalanche of choice that it's easier to find a botox needle in a haystack than it is to settle on a new moisturiser.
And the people we used to turn to for help - the celebrities, YouTubers and bloggers collectively known as 'influencers' - are so utterly in the thrall of paid promotions and playing the PR game that, every time you take their advice and purchase today's 'holy grail' product, you can't help but feel that it's your gullability which is paying for the million-pound mansions they're posing in front of in this month's Glamour Magazine. (Sidenote: it's not just the A-list bloggers who expect to be paid for writing about products these days. Even tiddlers whose blogs receive less traffic than the road out of hell seem to be writing with outstretched hands, as this article perhaps unwittingly reveals.)
So, how are L'Oréal bucking this trend and leading their industry from the front? They're doing it by going back to basics and recognising that real influence doesn't come from the self-appointed stars of stage and stream, it comes from your friend, your sister, your co-worker: the people who know what you really want, and who really want to help you.
As we mentioned above, none of this is exactly new. Avon have been powering home-selling cosmetics parties since 1886, where local ladies would gather to sell each other the latest potions and lotions. But it was high time someone dragged the idea sticking and creaming into the 21st century. These days, we don't gather at our neighbours' houses to discover great new products; we chat on WhatsApp and swipe our way through Instagram instead. We don't slip Mrs Morris two shillings and sixpence for a pot of cold cream, we checkout online then wait for a nice man from Yodel to bring it to our door. And Mrs Morris herself needn't worry about everyone seeing the state of her scullery before she sees a return from her influencing; she can get in the digital game, grab a referral URL and share with prospective customers via her favourite social channels instead.
Which is where we come in. Over the past four years, Buyapowa have become the world-leaders in digital referral marketing, taking those tried and tested concepts (rewards for influencers, incentives for new customers) and updating them for our times. By using our platform, L'Oréal can tap into the secret sauce that turned Uber into a $50 billion 'overnight success', effortlessly launching unlimited programmes specifically designed to get their existing customers sharing with - and selling to - their friends. The more friends they get to shop, the greater their rewards. Better still, if they get more friends to shop than anyone else, a unique layer of gamification kicks in, inspiring them to go the extra mile and rewarding them when they do.
And that's the magic ingredient (or 'prettiness particle', if you really insist): existing customers sharing their passion for great products with the people who've known and trusted them for years. That experience and trust means a million times more to prospective customers than a brightly-lit YouTube video shot in a 18-year-old's minimalist penthouse. And, most importantly, it achieves significantly better results.
Because influence, like sales, isn't claimed. It's earned.
If you would like to talk about how to earn influence and maximise its effect then drop us a line.
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