Founded in 2010 as a social commerce company with celebrity-curated products, BeachMint owns and operates four vertical online retail brands: JewelMint, BeautyMint, StyleMint and ShoeMint. Each of the ecommerce/social commerce sites looks to celebrity spokespeople as tastemakers. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, for example, work with StyleMint to develop exclusive pieces of clothing and to promote the brand’s latest styles. To further spur sales, the company encourages customers to take profile quizzes so it can better recommend products to consumers, who then sign up for subscription-based memberships.
John Volturo, chief marketing officer, and Ara Katz, vice president of creative and celebrity partnerships, spoke with eMarketer’s Lauren McKay about BeachMint’s success with Facebook commerce and its importance to the company's business model.
eMarketer: With BeachMint properties JewelMint, StyleMint and ShoeMint, consumers can make purchases on both Facebook and on the individual dot-coms. Why Facebook?
John Volturo: Early in 2011 we recognized that there were a lot of people on Facebook talking about our products. Part of our model is to get people engaged, but also to get them to convert. For those current customers who are Facebook fans, it made sense to be able to tell them what’s happening and to enable them to purchase at the same time.
We saw a lot of retailers putting catalogs on Facebook, but we made a strategic decision to build out a commerce store directly on Facebook to give consumers the option to purchase either via Facebook or our dot-com. Over the past six months, we’ve spent a lot of time refining and optimizing the purchase opportunities and the purchase funnel to the point where it’s now a healthy double-digit percentage of our overall total revenue each month.
eMarketer: Tell us more about your Facebook fan base.
Volturo: The goal was to marry both worlds—social networking and ecommerce. We started introducing products first on Facebook. We started promoting Facebook Fridays, where we gave special deals, contests and offers to our Facebook fans. We began involving our brand ambassadors on Facebook to help us innovate our products. Our Facebook fan is different than the casual visitor to our site, in that they are much more engaged and conversational.
“Our Facebook fans became product innovators, and they told us about the changes they wanted to see.”
We started special promotions like Bring it Back, where Facebook fans get to vote on previously released items that ran out of stock. Our Facebook fans became product innovators, and they told us about the changes they wanted to see. Now, when we bring products back, because consumers have such a voice in the selection, those products almost immediately sell out.
eMarketer: Are you seeing any distinctions in what products consumers are more willing to buy on Facebook vs. the website?
Volturo: The interesting thing is that our fashion-savvy fan base buys pretty equally on Facebook and on the website. What we see is that when we do things such as Bring it Back, those things really drive up engagement and get the product to sell on Facebook.
Ara Katz: Another interesting thing, and one of the reasons that we’ve been able to have such traction, is the authentic integration of our celebrity voices. It’s really evolved the storytelling for each brand.
Volturo: Mary-Kate and Ashley created what we call “T Moments.” They're short videos featuring the Olsen twins and the StyleMint T-shirt of the Month. We launched them in our social channels as a way to drive up engagement and make our Facebook pages a destination for our customers. [While] dot-coms are great for introducing brands and for providing the product a place to live in a very nice contextual environment, Facebook allows us to integrate customer engagement, and helps to tell the story in a way that also goes a little bit deeper. We can also respond to consumer questions in real time.
eMarketer: How do you see Facebook commerce evolving?
Volturo: I think two things are happening. One is that people are starting to feel a lot safer purchasing on Facebook. Alongside that growing sense of security, more brands that consumers trust are coming on board. So, as the consumer comfort level rises, so will the growth rate.
“Most people purchase a product after getting a referral from a friend, vs. a brand trying to sell it to them. So, we’re really going to build out more tools to create a social refer-a-friend program.”
Most people purchase a product after getting a referral from a friend, vs. a brand trying to sell it to them. So, we’re really going to build out more tools to create a social refer-a-friend program. I see a lot of other brands working toward the same thing. At the end of the day, what resonates is a strong, unique selling proposition, and ours is about curating exclusive products that are celebrity-influenced to the consumer and matching their style profile. When you have a really strong value proposition and you bring great products, the other pieces end up falling into place if you're doing them strategically.
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Check out today’s other article, “Smartphones Turn Millions More Americans into Mobile Shoppers.”