How The Pandemic Changed Beauty Brands’ Amazon Strategies

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 21 brand founders and executives: Did you change your Amazon strategy during the pandemic?

JUNKO GOMI CEO, H2O+

We have definitely had to pivot our strategy on Amazon because of COVID. Amazon had a product prioritization for a few months, which delayed shipment of the products to customers [and] impacted our overall sales.

When Prime Day was canceled in July, we didn’t know when it was going to happen again, so this forced us to change our strategy and quick. From just focusing on tentpole events on Amazon, we shifted to maximizing the vine program to launch new products and test out several coupons and promotions to see what worked for our brand. As for AMS spend, we shifted our spend based on the tentpole events timing, but continued to optimize the spend by focusing on our hero and bestselling Hydration Oasis collection.

MELISSA BOEREMA Vice President of Operations, InstaNatural

Going from Q1 to Q2 last year, we definitely saw an increase in demand for skincare products online, especially on Amazon. According to Amazon Brand Analytics, relative to all traffic on Amazon, the search for “skincare” increased from the 7,000th most frequently searched term to 4,000th. With Amazon Brand Analytics, 1 represents the term with the most search volume. The closer to 1, the higher the search volume, so going from 7,000 to 4,000 represents a positive increase in traffic.

In response to COVID-19 and this growth in online consumer shopping behavior, we decided to invest more heavily into our marketing budget in Q2, increasing our paid media spend by 60%. This shift in spending allowed us to take advantage of the increase in traffic on Amazon for skincare products and improve our visibility across the site.

David Petrillo Founder, Perfect Image

We realized that more and more people were going to be at home shopping online instead of in stores, and it was a good opportunity to ramp up our presence. So, we increased our ad spend and hired an Amazon agency to help optimize our campaigns and listings. We also ran a few sales as well and made sure not to be too pushy with customers on emails because it is a time where most people are going through a difficult time, and they know what they are looking for and want brands to be respectful in terms of marketing.

Amir Nobakht Co-Founder, Heraux

During the first wave of the pandemic, we decided to postpone our Amazon launch as there were significant delays in trying to get products shipped. Since then, we have signed on with upscale retailer The Conservatory and launched the Heraux Molecular Anti-inflammaging Serum as part of their Amazon Luxury Store available only via invitation to Amazon Prime members and accessed on the Amazon mobile app. 

The Conservatory is the first multi-brand concept store to be featured on the Amazon Luxury Store, and our award-winning multi-patented luxury facial serum was sold as part of an At Home Facials Restore set with other high-end synergistic beauty brands. In 2021, The Conservatory will launch the serum as a standalone SKU, which gives us the ability to share our story and the genesis of Heraux, from developing new therapies for arthritis to the major scientific breakthrough of HX-1 in creating the first anti-inflammaging skincare brand.

Jessica Busick Marketing Manager, Soapbox

We did pivot a bit with our Amazon strategy. In 2019, we did not make sanitizers, but quickly adjusted to meet market demand by offering them early on in 2020 and listing them on our Amazon page. We also leaned in more heavily on our liquid hand soap offerings, both in quantities and sizes.

Kayleigh Christina Co-Founder and COO, CLEARstem Skincare

When the impact of COVID hit Amazon, many brands were deemed non-essential, including ours. This changed shipping times to around six weeks for consumers to receive products. As we all know, in this fast-paced consumer culture, that is way too long! We switched over from Fulfilled by Amazon to Fulfilled by Merchant, and shipped products from our warehouse, which allowed us to reduce shipping times to consumers. 

John Cascarano President, Beast Brands Inc.

We found Amazon to have so many fulfillment related issues, item suspensions and triage, so we prioritized our website over Amazon.

Shalom Lloyd Founder, Naturally Tribal Skincare

We certainly started to take our presence on Amazon seriously during the pandemic. It was not a primary focus, however, the last few months have shown that it required its own focus and strategy. Dedicating resource and time building our brand on Amazon is paying off, although our next challenge is Brexit! With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, we have a new hurdle to jump in terms of making our products available in Europe via Amazon. Watch this space!

Ada Polla CEO, Alchimie Forever

Pre-COVID-19, we had our own Amazon store set up for the U.S. with fulfillment handled by Amazon. Since COVID-19, we have increased our digital efforts overall, and this, of course, includes Amazon. We have optimized our product pages (for example, adding more product images) and increased our Amazon advertising spend. We have also branched out into Amazon international. We set up our Amazon Canada store and are in the process of setting up various Amazon Europe stores as well as Amazon Australia, Amazon Singapore and Amazon Middle East.

Kelley Martin CMO, Skyn Iceland

During the pandemic, we actually saw a triple-digit uptick in our Amazon sales and have shifted media dollars to this channel in order to focus on this area of the business.

ALEXANDRA DJOUKANOV Brand Manager, Orpheus Skin

Yes, it happened naturally and, thankfully, our Amazon business was not negatively impacted by COVID. The pandemic outburst in March forced us rethink our marketing strategy and activities. We shifted our focus from digital and influencer marketing for a moment as we understood consumer interest was predominantly centering around COVID. We saw a drop in our KPIs, which meant that we couldn’t get through the clutter of COVID-related information. 

It was unreasonable for us to continue spending the same budget as before. So, for that time, we focused more on advertising on Amazon and optimizing our listing and offerings, and it paid off! We used the time to significantly improve our rankings and strengthen our brand presence, which led to double-digit growth in our Amazon sales compared to March. Amazon offers amazing opportunities and new tools to grow your brand, and we’re constantly seeing progress in what we’re doing. Now, we have a dedicated team taking care of and developing this sales channel.

Jennifer Lee Vice President, LAPCOS

We have leaned into working in tandem with Amazon when it comes to both curating our product assortment and catering to their positioning. We added new product categories to our post-COVID assortment in order to successfully round out our line and offer a holistic fashion and beauty routine for Amazon customers.

We were previously selling our beauty products on Amazon, but, with the launch of our Live Well Protective Face Masks, we have become a destination for the “maskne” solution as well and, in turn, an everyday lifestyle brand. You can purchase our lightweight, breathable protective reusable masks for safety, then pair them with our cult-favorite, cruelty-free, K-Beauty sheet masks for skincare for the surround-sound experience in skin safety and wellness. It is also very important that we offer accessible price points to consumers during a time they may need the extra safety and self care.

JOE FREEMAN CEO, MedZone, Zone Naturals and SweatZone

We saw demand increasing, so we paid close attention to our in-stock levels to make sure we had inventory at the FBA warehouse. The delays in shipping during the time also factored into our replenishment schedule since it was taking longer to get to the warehouse and longer to get checked in.

MARC RONERT Co-Founder, Hush & Hush

We launched on Amazon shortly after we launched the brand and our strategy has remained the same. A jump in sales was evident once COVID hit, which we attribute to the need for wellness products. We also began offering Amazon’s Subscribe & Save model on our store, which has been doing pretty well so far.

VALERIE GRANDURY Founder, Odacité

We took this opportunity to launch A-plus content on our Amazon store, including a brand new storefront design. We also took advantage of Amazon’s new Amazon Posts feature, a new product browsing and discovery experience to promote our products and the lifestyle of Odacité.

Connie Cho Founder, Ollie Belle

Because our products are in health and beauty, we were very fortunate to be able to sell our products without disruption that a lot of other sellers experienced due to COVID on Amazon. Masks cause the dreaded “maskne” in so many people, including myself (a lot for me personally!) and, because our product stays on particularly well even under the mask and in humidity, we lowered prices, but, more importantly, introduced a larger quantity pack so more people can have more product at a lower price. We understand that COVID has caused financial stress for most, so lowering costs while providing more really helped our current customers and, hopefully, new customers have some relief knowing that acne care doesn’t have to be expensive.

Jordan Schindler Founder and CEO, Nufabrx

We’ve moved away from Amazon and decided to focus directly on our website so we can better control the customer experience. COVID has created a time unlike any other and taking care of the customer matters more now than it ever has. We just didn’t feel like we could rely on Amazon to do that as well as we can.

Regis Haberkorn President and Co-Founder, Priori Skincare

We have been on Amazon since we launched as we believe that, if we control our brand environment, invest wisely and keep our buy box clean, it gives us opportunities to reach out to new customers. For us, Amazon is also part of customer service. Some customers like to shop on Amazon, so we want them to have that option. Post-pandemic, we have become premium beauty on Amazon, which is exciting.

David Perez CEO, Daily Dose

Amazon has always been a core component of our marketing strategy. The conversion rate for Daily Dose is 20X higher (not joking) on Amazon than it is on our website when comparing product detail pages on both sites. Consumers love and trust Amazon and have the option to "1-Click purchase" and get free two-day shipping if they are Prime members. So, if anything, the pandemic has only strengthened Amazon's consumer base and relevance to CPG companies, especially ours.

Olufunke Tonye-Preghafi CEO and Founder, Blot Beauty Cosmetics

Our strategy has always focused on retailing directly from our e-commerce website, so we decided to stick with USPS and fulfill customers’ orders. There were so many delays for a few weeks, but we were sure to push for acceptable delivery times.

SELMIN KARATAS Co-Founder and CEO, Kazani

I do not have an Amazon account, but I am considering it as soon as I get everything ready. Before the pandemic, I was working heavily on brick-and-mortar stores, especially in Manhattan. The pandemic caused a lot of stores to close down. People are hesitant to go into the stores that are open, and they are turning to online stores. Amazon is the place to be. The Amazon strategy that I will have is to work with an agency so they can post our products correctly as it is a tedious process.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to [email protected].