Coty Woos Shoppers with Interactive Makeup Stations
When fragrance and bath product manufacturer Coty broke into cosmetics with Rimmel, a Walmart-only cosmetics line of 300 SKUs, the U.K.-based company’s marketing department faced the oldest line in the book: How do we promote it?
Easy to ask, but hard to answer in this case. Because the line was only in Walmart stores, TV spots and FSIs weren’t an option. Instead, the marketers at Coty cautiously agreed on a mobile marketing tour to stimulate trial and create awareness. “At the beginning, many people had to be convinced that it made sense,” says Coty vp-cosmetics Rick Goldberg. “This was new ground for a lot of us.”
And so a U.K.-themed double-decker bus was manufactured, emblazoned with the Queen’s colors outside and packed to the gills with interactives inside. The program began with a six-week test in late 2001, after which Walmart gave the green light for a full-blown tour to begin cruising through five to 10 stores a week. Built to resemble a London disco, the makeover counter on wheels is small enough to seamlessly slide into Walmart parking lots for a few hours, where consumers (target: women ages 18-24) participate in on-board virtual makeovers.
A live dj gets the party started when folks enter the double-decker. Rimmel staffers snap pics that are uploaded to one of four makeup stations. Guests then digitally make themselves over using the entire product line. The SKUs they sample on screen (and the pictures of them looking all done up) are computed into virtual shopping lists users get (in exchange for their email address) as they head into the store. “Walmart wants programs that change behavior,” says Leslie Brennan, US Concepts’ vp-managing director. “We didn’t use coupons. Instead, we taught women how to use the products and go into the store feeling more confident.”
A second bus was added to the tour last July, allowing Coty to double its efforts (a third will join the lineup this fall). The program visited 300 stores in 214 markets across 31 states in 2002 (21,000 makeovers, 150,000 samples distributed), with some 600 stores set to be visited by the end of this year.
Want more? Okie dokie. The Rimmel tour has actually paid for itself, with sales at Walmart up as much as 24 percent a month after the bus makes an appearance. Coty considers the campaign a self-liquidating initiative. “This is our primary marketing vehicle. When you use TV and FSIs, the mobile tour is usually an add-on and you can’t tell what is driving sales,” says Goldberg. “In this case, we can. Mobile marketing really works.”