Beauty Entrepreneurs Discuss How Many Sales Brands Should Run Per Year

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 16 brand founders and executives: How many sales do you do a year, and have you changed your sales strategy over time based on learnings?

Regis Haberkorn President and Co-Founder, Priori Skincare

We do four to six sales a year on our website around major holidays. We realize that it is an opportunity for new customers to try our products and our existing customers to extend their assortment of products. We learned that we need to spend time, money and energy to increase our email database prior to the sales to generate a better ROI when we promote our sales through our newsletter.

Emily H. Rudman Founder, Emilie Heathe

Normally, we only do about two a year. Now, it is more expected, especially in beauty, so we have been offering them more often, but, in return, ask for more usable information for the customer to help us do retargeting marketing (e.g., their birthday, phone number for SMS texting, etc.). We are definitely seeing a lot of brands to pre-sale or early access for Black Friday.

The past years inform us the next year, but also algorithms change, consumer behavior changes, and the marketplace changes [inform us]. So, we constantly have to learn and test new things. What worked one year may not work the second year, and what may work for one competitor may not work for us.

CHRIS CABRERA Founder, Naturally London

In the past, we did a sale for every holiday due to FOMO (fear of missing out). However, as we have evolved, so has our view on sales. We now focus on specific national days or holidays that resonate best with our brand. For 2020, we have four sales scheduled, which does not include Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This time of year has become a bit frantic, and we feel we get lost in the sauce. Instead, we have a different tactic that doesn't encourage binge shopping.

VALERIE OBAZE Founder and CEO, R&R Luxury

As a brand with three separate e-commerce stores serving three countries, we tend to differentiate our sales strategy based on the market that we are operating in. Generally, we have standard sales across all of our territories for the big international dates such as Black Friday, Mother’s Day and Christmas. These sales usually do well due to the gifting aspect associated with these holidays.

As well as these standard sales, we also hold sales a few times a year that are relevant to each country we operate in, for example, a sale for Nigerian Independence Day, which is targeted towards our customers in that country only. 

More recently, we have been doing smaller, more frequent promotions on particular products or collections to celebrate the fun marketing-lead days of the year, including World Beard Day and International Friendship Day. We find that this sales strategy works well with customers that are looking to purchase one or two particular products from us that are part of the promo and often use the opportunity to stock up.

Kelley Martin CMO, Skyn Iceland

We generally run sales around key holiday time periods such as Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Black Friday/Cyber Monday. We also have an annual friends and family sale. However, this year we have shifted to be a bit to be more promotional given the broader competitive environment to compete with key retailer promotions—for example, Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty and Amazon's Prime Day—and to drive through overstock on SKUs via discounting.

Jordynn Wynn Co-Founder, Insert Name Here

We have no exact guidelines on sales. Promotions are used as a way to interact and communicate with our customer while obviously driving sales, so hitting relevant dates where you can line up a message or theme with the promo are most successful.

You want to avoid being a “discount brand,” and having promotions so regularly that your customer expects a discount and will only purchase with a discount. Promotions should be rare enough that they are exciting when they are available. On that same note, be sure to shake up the actual promo. A 20% off discount every single time gets stale.

DANIELLE GRONICH Co-Founder, CLEARstem Skincare

In total, about seven planned sales. We have definitely fine-tuned our sales practices, thanks to our rad e-mail marketing guru Grace. Rather than do a random one because we were in a frisky, generous mood or a flash sale to drive revenue as needed, now we plan them out over a six-month period and put a ton of thought and soul into them. We do the typical Black Friday and holiday promos, and we do one each time a new product launches in addition to an educational blog piece about how it helps skin.

We like to heavily theme each sale (e.g., Valentine’s Day was for self-love and the relationship with your skin) because it provides space to add more value like adding a YouTube or TedTalk video that pertains to the theme. We are still always having fun with it because fun is still so important. Pudge (Kayleigh’s Boston Terrier) has a birthday coming up, so we are doing a whole email series and IG flash sale for it, cus why not? He has a lazy eye and is our chief emotional support officer. It doesn’t get any cuter.

In addition to having a method and spacing the sales out properly, we like to make people smile so we use our sales as methods for doing that. It makes the sale about spirit and connectedness, rather than just revenue.

Mila Moursi Founder, Mila Moursi

We do sales probably four times a year on our website. One thing I’ve learned is that customers no matter their income level love good deals and love good sales. So, it’s our pleasure to offer sales every once in a while.

Emma Zwissler Founder, The Sunday Standard

In the past, we’ve primarily done two large sales each year aligning with the holidays (November) and the anniversary of my leaving my 9-to-5 and going full-time with our business (May). Our brand story is very closely tied to our founding story, and this has always been a fun way to celebrate that with our customer base and keep that personal connection. 

This year, we’ve experimented with different styles of promotions, although we do still try to keep promotions to a minimum, and our core products rarely go on sale. We want to keep the integrity of our brand and pricing so reserve across-the-board discounting of our line for our twice-yearly sale. We’re trying to find new ways to create excitement and to continue to drive sales to our online space as we’ve been forced to navigate away from in-person events.

We’ve leaned more heavily into online sales events, more free shipping events, featured promotional products and gifts with purchase. I think we’ll stick with this strategy as I’ve found it to be a successful way to drive traffic to the site and increase sales. My biggest surprise was to see how many sales we were getting of full-priced products as add-ons to a sale-item purchase. The outcome has been better than expected. 

CAMILLE OBADIA President, Camille Obadia

Last year, I did a different discount every month. This year, I will only do discounts during holidays and special days. I learned that there is no need to make a nonstop discount, but rather when the time of the year applies to it like special holidays, for example.

MARC RONERT Co- Founder, Hush & Hush

We run promotions regularly. In the past two years, we have learned that our customers look for and appreciate a more consistent approach to savings as opposed to a sale once or twice a year. I feel that, if they have to hold out for a big sale, you are likely to lose that customer. However, we do celebrate our anniversary, Black Friday, the holiday season, etc., but we don’t limit sales to just those events.

Mona Maine de Biran CEO and Co-Founder, KIERIN NYC

We are a new brand launched in 2018, but my husband is a beauty veteran who has a lot of experience with the summer months being the slowest part of the year. Interestingly, what we have seen is that summer is not dramatically different from other months during the year outside of peak holidays. That has changed our strategy. We no longer consider the summer to be downtime for our consumer.

Sandra McCurdy Co-Founder, Silked

We truly hit our stride in 2019 since 2018 was a testing period for us. In 2019, we sold approximately 12,000 units between our direct-to-consumer site and through [third-party purchase orders]. Our strategy year-over-year is similar. We believe that strategic partnerships with brands that have female-driven customers, who we can sell our product to at a discount, are a great way to grow our reach and capture new customers.

While we make less money, we are getting built-in marketing and brand recognition, which is worth its weight in gold. It has proven so successful that we launched in FabFitFun's summer 2020 box, where they licensed our brand and have over 500,000 customers sleeping on our product now. We have applied this thinking to all wholesale vendors we work with and have seen fantastic growth in a short amount of time.

Stephanie Montes Founder and CEO, Nue

We are a young company, so we're still learning every day being that it's self-funded, and I'm a one-of-one in-house team, I have the freedom to make decisions on the fly and experiment along the way. In a short time, I've learned that our customer loves free shipping. I've tried 25% off site-wide and a buy one, get one free sale, but our free shipping promos remain the most successful by far. We have averaged about one sale per month for various holidays.

JULISSA PRADO Founder and CEO, Rizos Curls

Generally, we don’t like to do discounting. So, we like to stay away from it. We offer really amazing products, super great quality ingredients, and we let our products really speak for themselves. People keep coming back because they love how our products work. We definitely don’t want to derail that by doing too much discounting. We offer our products at what we feel is a fair price, and we’re a 100% self-funded business, so the majority of our sales go back into reinvesting in the brand. We do offer discounts for bundle purchases and, of course, on major holidays.

Tiffany Brown Founder, Bathe Brand

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday 2020 will mark our first annual sales. We’re really excited to see the outcome of these strategies, and are hoping to expand our customer base and get our existing customers to try other products. We find that our loyal customers are also loyal to their favorite products. Therefore, we are planning to do product bundling and introduce sales packs to create new entry points for other products in the collection.

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