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The 5th Beauty Symposium: Lessons from UK Beauty Leaders

From left: Mike Ramseyer, Leon Hughes, Herbie Dayal, Tracey Woodward, Justin Sedgmond and Stirling Murray.

The 5th Beauty Symposium was held last week on the 1st March in central London. A packed audience listened to an eclectic mix of industry leaders who shared their thoughts, inspiration and insight in how to navigate a profitable way through the bewildering mix of new retail channels and communication platforms. They offered advice on how to emerge from the advent of social commerce platforms, strong affiliate marketers and the new super-savvy consumers, with margins intact and volumes growing. In this review, Jeb Gleason-Allured of GCI magazine rounds up the key points to take home.

What does the digital channel mean for beauty brands in the United Kingdom and beyond, and what are its limits? These were some of the questions at the core of The Beauty Symposium, recently presented by The Red Tree and hosted by Stirling Murray (The Red Tree Consultancy) and Mike Ramseyer (My Market Insight). Net proceeds from the event were donated to the charity Look Good Feel Better.

How Not to Engage Bloggers

If brands want to engage beauty bloggers, they should take the time to find their proper contact information, said Jane Cunningham, founder of who received a total of 4.5 million hits in 2015.Yet she often receives requests to “just pop something up” on her carefully curated site. This is a definite no-no.

Harnessing Social

In a world in which more people own mobile devices than toothbrushes, personalisation is a crucial aspect for consumer engagement, said Leon Hughes, senior associate, e-commerce at Piper Private Equity. Technologies such as messaging apps can boost relevancy of marketing messages, he noted. Hughes added that social media channels are beginning to pay off for marketers and that a desktop strategy is crucial to have a holistic digital strategy.

But even as technologies and strategies shift in the digital space, the fundamentals of shopping have not changed, noted Justin Sedgmond, co-founder of Boutique Social. Shopping must have a fun factor, he said, adding that social buy buttons provide both relevancy and instant gratification.

The Beauty Omnichannel

Since launching its first beauty concept department in 2012, M&S, the fourth largest retailer in the United Kingdom, has captured 2.4 million unique beauty shoppers and 1.3 million Facebook fans.

The retailer now nets 20% of its beauty sales online, but digital is not done growing, said M&S brand consultant Tracey Woodward. While educated staff have boosted results for the retailer, so too have partnerships with Josh Wood, Mary Greenwell and Rosie Huntington-Whitely.

Millie Kendall of Ruby and Mille, noted how her brand had leveraged multichannel marketing. The brand launched in premium retail before landing in the mass channel with Boots. Ruby and Mille can now deepen its consumer engagement via social, Kendall added.

However, having new communication/engagement platforms does not automatically make brands better communicators, warned Herbie Dayal, co-founder of King of Shaves and KMI. While social media may be seductive, in fact a clear brand identity and strong targeting of audience and distribution are the true keys of success. Only if these key elements are sorted will a social strategy be effective.

The Beauty Symposium is a yearly event featuring an eclectic mix of speakers to inspire, inform and surprise and was created by The Red Tree, a leading international consultancy practice specialising in the global beauty market.

My Market Insight helps companies make more profitable choices in their PR, marketing and digital investments through using their expertise in data analytics and visualisation to give brands fact based, granular insights across digital, print and social media.

The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.

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