Korea knows how to chase its beauty customers
Korean consumers are a picky difficult lot. When it comes to beauty, my friends and the women and men I see in shops ask more questions and demand more information and incentives from the sales assistants than shoppers in any other country I’ve seen. I’m trained in the British “leave me alone” school of shopping and initially hated the sales assistants here. I’m sceptical by nature and I worked behind the counter at many different top London department stores when I was younger so I know the inside tricks and scams of the trade. I normally ignore anything sales people have to say. When I’m at a counter I know what I’m after, I’ve done my own research and I’m there to swatch, test and hand over money if I’m happy.
However since being in Korea, I’ve picked up some tips from my fellow snarky shoppers and now ask and push too. Customer service is too attentive here for my own anglo-raised tastes but on the plus side, if I ask, I usually get. Plonking down the cash or plastic in Korea gets you a lot more than you pay for with samples, freebies and extras almost always thrown in.
All the brands, even the high-end department store variety have loyalty card schemes and very diligent direct marketing operations. I racked up the tally at Chanel last year and became a high-spending White Card member. At Christmas time I was rewarded with a lovely keyring with Chanel themed charms on it. At MAC, my multiple foundation and brush hauls earned me a large makeup case, very high quality which I would probably have bought had it been on sale. In England, I’ve never felt so rewarded for my custom as in Korea. I can walk up to any Chanel counter in Korea, flash my loyalty card and pick up any foundation, skincare or fragrance sample I ask for and get an extra smile, helpful advice and thank you from the sales assistants.
In the states the Sephora Beauty Insider program is great and really rewards the members. The UK is lagging far behind. The Boots Advantage Card gives you points for products but other than value, doesn’t offer any extras which make you feel rewarded (and more likely to spend more and promote brand loyalty).
I also get great flyers and postcards in the mail with new product and promotional information. I’m generally against too much junk mail, but these are not useless bits of crap in the post. They are informative, well designed and incite the lemmings. L’Occitane, Chanel, Dior, Shiseido, Stila, MAC, Estee Lauder,…. I know when the new products are on-counter because the information is waiting in my mailbox.
The best part is the SMS messages I get to my phone telling me about sales, special offers and freebies. Etude House, DHC, Lush, Missha, Innisfree, Olive Young, Jill Stuart and Skinfood all have active SMS notification services but only a few times a year so I don’t feel spammed or stalked. Check out this cute notice from Stila on their upcoming GWP promotion.