COVID-19 Response Triggers Fluctuating Passion for Beauty & Fashion Brands

Brand passion is about more than measuring the volume of social content or sentiment. It’s about the intensity of the passion that customers have about your brand. And brands’ COVID-19 responses have triggered fluctuating consumer passion. Let’s see how that looks, and what brands can learn from it moving forward.

Learning as We Go

With salons and boutiques alike forced to shut their storefronts amidst COVID-19, and so many people working remotely and rarely leaving their homes, beauty and fashion are falling from consumers’ priority lists. And with that comes major impacts for the beauty industry, as many people are turning to DIY services at home. Take a look at this story for example, where Walmart’s CEO says hair dye is flying off the shelves because of quarantine panic.

As we mentioned in our social media report,  Beauty industry Best Practices Guide, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the beauty industry was projected to hit a market value of $805.61 billion. But that has changed, of course.

So, what are beauty and fashion brands doing to stay top of mind with their well-established customer base? What are they doing to make sure that brand love is still there when things go back to normal? And how can social media listening tools help you stay in tune to what the conversation and sentiment is around your brand?

We examined the response of eight top brands and the corresponding consumer impact to reveal just that . . .

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Ulta 

When the crisis of COVID-19 struck, Ulta Beauty made the decision to shut all their storefronts by 3/31. They stated that the safety of their associates and guests was their priority, and that employees would receive payment and benefits during this closing period.

Fast forward to the end of last week and Ulta came out with their decision to furlough majority of their associates as their stores remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And people aren’t happy about it. A look at the chart below shows steady passion intensity up until mid-March, when the decision was made to close their doors but continue to pay employees followed by a quick and sharp dip in passion intensity right around the time the chatter around furloughs started.

Note to brands. Your customers are always watching, and choosing to be selective about the information that you are sharing during such a hard and trying time matters. It matters a lot.

Ulta-passion-intensity 

L’Oreal

L’Oreal is a leader in the beauty space, so it’s no surprise that they have launched a multi-tiered initiative to support people who have been impacted by COVID-19. In a nut shell, they are:

  • Helping small business partners during this financial crisis
  • Donating masks to local hospitals
  • Manufacturing and distributing hand sanitizer
  • Donating personal care products to Feed the Children
  • Raising funds for Feeding America

You can read more about these initiatives and learn more about how L’Oreal is giving back here.

You’ll see that L’Oreal’s actions aren’t going unnoticed. Over the last three months, their brand passion score has remained steady, proving that they were a strong brand before COIVD-19 shook up everyone’s world and have retained that integrity through it all. It pays off to be on top of a crisis during times of need.

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Even their brand sentiment has remained overwhelmingly positive, with many people discussing their exceptional efforts of giving back during this crisis.

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H&M

H&M was one of the last fashion giant stores to close their stores. While they state that they did all they could to protect employees and customer’s for as long as they could remain open, they, like everyone else, were faced with no other choice but to close their physical shop.

They extended their return policy and paid their employees two weeks beyond their closing date, encouraging shoppers to still make their purchases online.

It’s been a crazy ride for many brands, but for H&M, the highs and lows seem to keep pouring in, which you can see in the chart below. A few weeks ago we learned that they offered money, protective equipment and even social network initiatives to those on the frontlines.

While they are doing what they can to maintain their brand reputation, some of their locations are facing hardship and are unable to, and are refusing to, pay brick & mortar rent. They are also making internal decisions on which jobs are going to be cut, and how many. And the numbers aren’t looking good.

With so much up in the air for H&M their future remains unknown. It goes to show that the good, the bad and the ugly will get you noticed, and when it does, you should always have a plan to back up your actions.

HM-passion-intensity

Lululemon

Like many fashion retailers, Lululemon closed their doors indefinitely on March 15. But reports are showing that their COVID-19 response is helping them survive this crisis and are expected to emerge stronger when this crisis ends.

During this time of uncertainty, customers are still able to shop online. They continue to keep their customers engaged with their brand on social media through social media engagement and content that encourages their audience to do what they love – exercise.

lululemon-encouraging-exercise

These efforts have kept the sentiment and brand passion score positive and steady over the last three months.

lululemon-overwhelmingly-positive-brand-sentiment

This is a great example of why it matters for a brand to be in tune with their audience and their needs to keep the positive momentum going.

LVMH

LVMH, a world leader in high-quality products, was one of the first brands to acknowledge the hand sanitizer shortage in France. They quickly prepared their production sites to manufacture large quantities of hand sanitizer to be distributed to those on the front lines.

LVMH-making-great-business-decisions

As weeks went on and the COVID-19 crisis has grown expeditiously worse, LVMH has stepped up to donate 261 ventilators and manufacture masks and hospital gowns to aid in France’s fight against coronavirus.

You can see these dips in spikes in LVMH’s Passion Intensity chart below. They’re generating lots of passion, overwhelmingly positive passion, and it’s because they’re not afraid to put themselves on the front lines and take risks to support consumers where needed.

LVMH-passion-intensity

With more people taking to social media than ever before, what your brand does matters. And it will all be talked about, so make sure the narrative you’re creating now is one that consumers will look back on and view positively overall.

Supreme

A popular streetwear brand with locations in New York, San Fran, LA, London, Paris and Japan, Supreme put signs up on each of their store fronts letting customers know that they were closing indefinitely.

With little to no updates on social media regarding their pandemic response efforts, it’s unclear what they are doing or if they are compensating employees during this time. They’ve been interacting with their extensive and targeted user base via Instagram, sharing new collections for sale and encouraging readers to stay home. It largely gives the feel of business as usual, and will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out for them:

Supreme-stay-home-posts

As of this writing, it appears shutting their stores has been enough of a response for their consumers to stay happy.

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Nike

Nike shared that the “health of athletes” around the world is a top priority. When the announcement was made to close down stores, productions and corporate offices it came with the news that employees would indeed be paid in full.

But they didn’t stop there.

They are working closely with health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University to manufacture PPE to protect against COVID-19.

While Nike’s passion intensity score remained fairly consistent over the last three months, you can see that their score spiked and stayed elevated during these hard times, which is not an easy task to accomplish online right now. As you can see, consumers are fickle and their standing is not guaranteed – no one’s is.

Nike-passion-intensity 

Glossier 

Last but not least, we have Glossier.

They have shut down all retail locations and postponed new store openings. Although their stores are closed, the company did announce that staff would be paid throughout the closure. But that’s not the main focus of Glossier.

In fact, they were one of the first beauty boutiques to close down at the beginning of the pandemic. CEO Emily Weiss’ motivations for this stemmed from wanting to be a trendsetter. She wanted to lead by example and create less harm and more good during such a hard time for so many.

Making hard decisions isn’t always easy – but they pay off in the end. Just take a look at Glossier’s chart below and note how their passion intensity score was at the highest when this difficult decision was made.

Glossier-passion-intensity

Coincidence? Not likely. But being able to take the online temperature of your efforts and see what (or who) is powering spikes and dives in brand passion can be invaluable during this time of change. Particularly with many more on the horizon.

If you’re ready to monitor your brand’s passion intensity score, overall sentiment or just want to learn more about social listening, reach out for a demo.