Industry Voices: Marketing in uncertain times with Love Beauty and Planet

Although retail sales have stagnated during the pandemic, the personal care business has surged thanks to homebound customers who have sought out skin care, hair care, and other beauty and wellness products. We recently spoke with Sonika Malhotra, co-founder and global brand director of Love Beauty and Planet. The Unilever brand, along with its lifestyle sister brand Love Home and Planet, reached $100 million in sales in December 2019.

How has the pandemic affected Love Beauty and Planet’s business?

The pandemic has been a difficult time for the whole world. But we’ve learned that self-care becomes that much more important when you’re stressed out. So, sensorial skin care and hair care with good, efficacious results continue to be really important.

How has the focus on self-care changed your marketing priorities in recent months?

When the pandemic started, the first thing we told ourselves was that we are a brand that came out of purpose, and we wanted to be a friend to our consumers. We started hosting Instagram Live sessions where we shared tips and tricks on how to take care of yourself during this time. Some were more product-related than others, but the point was to build trust and a relationship with our audience.

A lot of health and beauty brands were already shifting to D2C sales models before the pandemic, and some even more so since then. Has this been the case for Love Beauty and Planet?

Yes, in a time like this, when people are confined to their homes, online shopping does get accelerated, so we have seen that as well. But I wouldn’t say it’s something new to us. Our brand has always been available both in-store and online.

Love Beauty and Planet made a $100,000 grant pledge to help reduce carbon emissions. What can you tell us about the grant program?

We’ve always taxed ourselves for the carbon we generate as part of our production and distribution. So, in July of this year, we started an initiative called The Love Beauty and Planet Project, which gives grants to individuals and small entities that are making a difference to the planet, be it through clean energy programs, recycling, or anything that takes care of carbon emissions. We’re also partnering with the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program to make sure we prioritize communities of color and other minority groups that take a bigger hit when it comes to environmental issues.

eMarketer’s forecasts show that US retail sales will grow by only around 1% in 2020, but sales of health, personal care, and beauty products will grow by almost 5%—and by more than 35% if you look at just ecommerce. Why do you think personal care products have been so resilient?

I am not surprised that the beauty industry will continue growing and thriving, whether it’s in ecommerce or elsewhere. That’s because people, and not just women, are going to continue looking for wellness, grooming, self-care, and beauty products to make sure they are feeling a certain way about themselves.

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