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New General Market: Coty’s social listening yields results

Beauty products giant Coty has opened its ears to the voices of social media. At the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit, Shannon Curtin, a then-Coty executive shared how the company is listening and responding to its consumers.

Curtin said to better listen to its consumers, the company about two years ago established an internal “trend foundry” to monitor social media conversations and try to learn about what interested consumers in real time. Those insights, combined with the insights obtained from its retail customers, are helping Coty’s family of brands get the right products to market sooner to capitalize on the buzz before it fades.

“You learn very quickly about what works, and then you fail fast if it doesn’t,” Curtin said. “If it does, you invest and you keep moving forward at an accelerated pace.”

She cited data from a McKinsey & Co. research report, showing that companies that leverage customer behavioral insights outperform peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin.

Curtin described the process of monitoring and leveraging consumer insights at Coty into four steps: Getting a sense of what’s going on with consumer conversations, storytelling around those conversations, building a surround-sound of the story and optimizing the assets and, finally, selling.

“In all of these, it’s as easy as asking, ‘What are people saying about our brands? What are people saying about the retail partners that we engage with? What are they talking about in a beauty space, and what’s coming up and what’s resonating?’” Curtin said.

Coty groups the consumers who are having these conversations into segments based on the types of beauty products they are discussing, then looks for actionable insights and follows with rapid surveys asking consumers what they think of a certain look, for example. All of this takes place within a span of roughly 72 hours.

“This flywheel is going really, really fast because we try to get into storytelling mode as quickly as possible,” Curtin said.

The storytelling phase of the consumer insights process involves creating content that leverages the learnings from social listening and surveying. Initial concepts are tested over the course of another 72 hours before they are turned into fully-developed content that can be distributed on such social media channels as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or on retailers’ websites.

That leads to the “surround” aspect of the process, which involves media activation and optimization, journey tagging and integrated reporting around various performance metrics.

Ultimately, the insights should lead to a more personalized selling experience, with the right message reaching the right customers via the right platforms, Curtin said. Combined with the insights from its retail customers, Coty also can tailor its messaging for a specific retailer’s shopper.

As an example of the power of Coty’s new framework for social listening and rapid response, Curtin cited the company’s reaction to consumer interest in blue eyeshadow earlier this year. In March, Coty noticed through social listening that a lot of people were talking about blue eyeshadow, so it began creating CoverGirl content that emphasized blue shades.

Then in April, Kim Kardashian launched a blue eyeshadow that was an immediate hit with consumers. The next day, CoverGirl — already prepared because of its social listening — launched a blue eyeshadow look on social media, seeing a measurable uptick in blue eyeshadow sales the next week.

“It’s all about listening to what consumers want and creating it for them in real time,” she said.

This story is part of a Special Report on the New General Market Purpose-Driven Summit — to read more insights, click here
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