The Sporting Goods Industry Should Take These Digital Strategy Hints From Beauty

When it comes to digital, one industry is making waves in how they are utilizing it. This industry may seem like an unlikely candidate for digital, as traditionally it was a very sensory experience — smelling, examining in all lighting conditions, the occasional taste test(?!), and of course lots of sampling. Alas, those days are largely in the past. What is this industry, you ask? Beauty.

Playing by a new set of rules, it has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the United States’ nearly $300 billion online retail sales market in large part due to convenient delivery, personalized experiences, competitive pricing, and access to a wealth of information online. This has created an attractive alternative — or at least a strong complement — to the in-store beauty buying experience. So much so, that fellow B2C industries, like sporting goods, could learn a thing or two.

Why are we picking on sporting goods? Well, the landscapes of sporting goods and beauty are actually very similar. The demand that drives purchasing for both industries largely takes demographic, consumer income, and current trends into consideration. Both industries are also highly concentrated, with a handful of companies accounting for well over half of the revenue. That means that smaller companies wishing to succeed and even big players that want even more of the pie, need to focus that much more on engaging with their target market- which is largely spending time online.

So… just what is beauty doing online and how can a sporting goods supplier hop in the game to win big?

• “How To” Tutorials: Beauty does a great job in this space. From YouTube, to Periscope, to other social media channels, beauty brands are spreading the word on how to use their products, and consumers are loving it. Sigma Beauty partnered with Echidna to help relaunch their website, and now on almost any product it not only shows a picture of the product, but offers a video to show viewers to use it. How to do something helps people buy the product you are teaching them about, and on top of that builds search and brand engagement.

Auto Replenishment: The days of waking up to discover you are out of deodorant are over. Thanks to commerce platforms, 38% of beauty and health consumers are now signed up for a subscription service, according to a new report from Business Insider Intelligence. Many consumers opt to reorder favorite products by subscription to save time and money. Think outside the box sporting goods industry, you can take this way beyond deodorant and toilet paper.

Industry Influencers: Sporting goods has big deals with big name athletes, but what about someone a bit more…. accessible? Beauty does a wonderful job creating relationships with strategic industry influencers out there. Who is an industry influencer? Industry influencers give your brand an easy way to establish a personality and be relatable. For example, Lancôme worked with Michelle Phan, a make-up expert and YouTube vlogger, for a perfume promo. Before the partnership, Lancôme had about 5 million YouTube subscribers. After the partnership, it had 20 million. The brand channel has continued to build on the momentum it gained through the joint campaign.

• Subscription Boxes: Beauty has literally made billions in this space, and for good reason. Shoppers love paying a small monthly fee to play around with new products they may have never purchased otherwise, and research shows that customers who subscribe to boxes buy more products overall than people who don’t. Not to mention the fact that this is a great way for brands to gain insight on customers’ needs and wants. The Sportsman’s Box has a foot in door with this service, but the industry still has a ways to go before it becomes mainstream.

Who are some sporting goods brands that are winning the M.V.P. award when it comes to digital? What are they doing that puts them ahead of their competition?