Content conversation with Madhavi Irani - Chief Content Officer,

by ACN Editor

Q. What role does content play to sustain the position of a leading Indian multi-brand beauty ecommerce retailer?

A. Content is one of the six pillars—that include brand partnerships, curation, omnichannel strategy, private label and marketing—that has contributed to Nykaa’s success. From the beginning we have believed shopping for a lipstick or foundation goes beyond buying the product. Digital content has sought to replicate the offline shopping experience and provide as much information as possible, from how to apply the product to finding the right shade to suit your skin tone, and getting people to return to the site. At Nykaa, content plays a three-pronged role: basic product information, guided selling (via Buying Guides and IT Lists) that offer real time advice/solutions to concerns, and off website influence achieved through the online beauty magazine, Beauty Book, Nykaa TV and the Expert Portal. We also use google analytics extensively to measure customer behavior and indirect conversions is an important metric to measure the role content plays, that is how often content in some form interacts with the customer before she makes a purchase.

Q. How are the new technologies likeVR & AI are impacting content marketing in your category?

A. At Nykaa, we were one of the early movers to adapt Virtual Reality via our Virtual Makeover Tool, that allowed customers to virtually ‘try on’ shades of lipstick, foundation and eye makeup before making a purchase. Today, we have a ‘try it on’ feature on our lipstick selection where customers can select their skin tone and ‘try on’ different shades of lipstick. I think AI has an important role to play in the beauty category going forward. While we at Nykaa haven’t yet adapted to this fully, let me share the example of cosmetic brand ColourPop with a cult following of 5.1 million on Instagram. Color Pop is using the AI discovery feed to bridge the gap between its social media fans and mobile checkout. Instead of recreating a shoppable Instagram feed on its site, the brand is promoting purchases by putting the right products in front of people through an algorithm-based feed. Increasingly, brands in the beauty space—where touch, texture and color play such an important role—will use AI to improve product discovery and navigation to drive sales.

Q. Generally beauty purchases are made after reading and watching reviews of the influencers and bloggers. What is your approach to choose an influencer for Nykaa to create a lasting impression and brand advocacy with consumers?

A. For the Indian beauty customer reviews, ratings and influencer marketing plays an important role. At Nykaa, we have collaborated for several years with top beauty vloggers with good results, as evidenced by the engagement on Nykaa TV, our YouTube channel. However, with the plethora of vloggers in the beauty space today advocating this or that brand, the millennial consumer is looking for more authentic experiences and product recommendations. We are seeing that on the newly launched Nykaa Network, our online community where likeminded beauty buffs can engage with each other, ask questions, and give product recommendations. I think the trend going forward will be more towards ‘real girl beauty influencers’.

Q. What all it takes to create an aha moment at Nykaa? How content drives an unforgettable beauty shopping experience?

A. Recently Nykaa Beauty launched its Nykaa Matte To Last Liquid Lipstick range, a range of stunning liquid lipsticks in 18 shades that captured the essence of iconic Indian cities and the women that make them even more beautiful. We timed the launch with a TVC featuring backdrops of many of these cities, featuring a modern girl of today. On social, we captured the essence of each shade by shooting with models who encapsulated the mood of the shade, created a video and Beauty Book articles as well. On Nykaa Network, we held a swatch party where the new shades were displayed. This all round effort led to one of the most successful liquid lipstick launches on Nykaa with 42, 200 liquid lipsticks sold since launch, and almost 850 pieces daily.

Q. Which is your favorite content marketing example at Nykaa and why?

A. On of my favorite examples is the Tinderella web series we shot to showcase the Nykaa’s lipstick range. It takes a lighthearted look at the dilemmas of today’s modern woman—accomplished, successful, yet vulnerable, looking for love. We used two accomplished actors known for their comic timing, Sumukhi Suresh and Gaurav Gera. The story meanders through the awkward pitfalls of modern dating, and while our protagonist always finds the right shade of lipstick, she doesn’t quite find the right man. And so the story continues…It’s a clever, memorable way of showcasing our lipstick range with all its gorgeous colors in a totally relatable, funny way. We have over 2 million views on the web series so far.

Q. Why Nykaa Network? What role does a community platform, Nykaa Network play to increase ROI?

A. Nykaa Network was born from the original belief that our customers come to Nykaa not just to buy another beauty product, but engage with the platform in a more meaningful, lasting way. Advice as you know has been our mainstay, so here was a platform that customers could ask all their beauty questions, receive answers from experts and fellow beauty buffs, participate in contests, discover trends and much more. The network subscriber base is a highly engaged cohort, as evidenced by their interactions with the website. It still early days—just three months after launch—and our subscriber base has crossed 225,000. The average order value of Network customers is 7.8% higher than an average non-Network customer, and the monthly visits of Nykaa Network customers are 17% higher than non-subscribers.

Q. What is the secret sauce of Nykaa’s content strategy? And how does that evolve with the growing demands of the consumers’ behavior?

A. Part of the reason for the success of Nykaa’s content strategy is that it is so inclusive. It straddles every segment of the growing beauty market from ‘Beauty Aficionados’ who are typically up-to-date with the latest trends and look for the latest best-in-class specialist products, the ‘Newbies’ just entering the beauty market to buy their first lipstick or prep for a job interview, and the ‘Beauty Junky’ who wants to know what the latest beauty offerings are. All our content platforms are designed to cater to each of them in different, unique ways.

Q. The online beauty and cosmetics category is getting hotter with high margin business. Earlier it was justPurplle, now Amazon Beauty segment is taking a leap. What are your next steps at Nykaa?

A. We have an omnichannel strategy that offers a seamless experience and allows us to be part of the beauty journey of our customers, wherever they are, online or offline. We are also in the process of onboarding many top international brands and have already brought K Beauty and several Dead Sea brands to India, for a truly global beauty experience. It is this ability to engage customers through discoverability and educating them on how to make the right purchase decisions that have kept Nykaaa step ahead of competition.

Q. What are the fads in content marketing that brands should avoid?

A. A couple of them come to mind. Customization is an oft bandied content marketing strategy to give consumers the feeling that they are getting what no one else has. A great hook when ready-made products are beginning to lose their appeal, and customization becomes a way to make people feel unique. But when done wrong it becomes just another fad.When companies start trying mass customization, they run the risk of going from phenomenon to fad. I also think using Snapchat for brand marketing is a fad that will die down this year. The platform is still to prove itself as an available marketing platform to build brand loyalty or buy-ins because there isn’t much in the way of analytics or tracking, though it’s a great way to connect with audiences and build engagement.

Q. From a short-term 'Marketing Wave' to a 'Permanent Discipline', what are your thoughts on Content Marketing evolution?

A. There was a time when content marketing was considered a new age phenomenon, but today one can evaluate how effective it really is. I would say content marketing has evolved to become the foundation of driving business growth, creating brand loyalty, stickiness and delivering value and ROI that’s distinct from the products and services that are being sold. Content marketing is a business model in itself and not just a marketing tool. It’s become a powerful way to tell a brand story and build a lasting brand connect. What’s also become clear as content marketing has evolved is that quality, not quantity, matters. It is what keeps your brand relevant and valuable, separating you from the din and clutter.