The universal language of marketing is continuously evolving. From field selling to market planning, today we see the dominance of the consumer creating meaningful content and experience for them. We have started living in a subscription world, and membership sign-ups are growing day by day.

Being part of an "in-group" is becoming a necessity to feel included as part of something big. It starts from subscribing for a tv series to cosmetic trials and extends to the healthcare sector. Millennials are the key drivers of membership concept in this new age. Their transition from watching brand commercials on TV to directly interacting with their favorite brands on social media made way for clubs and exclusive participation.

While social media is a cost-effective and high performing, it is an all-time competitive landscape. For companies to have a leg up on the competition, creating personalized content is nothing more than a prerequisite. Non-engaging contents are dismissed with a swipe losing its immediate touchpoint with its potential customer.

Subscription economy model appeals to customers to halt and engage with the content posted by the brand. Brands leverage on this idea to build and strengthen their relationship to convert customers to members.

So, what makes a subscription brand successful? Here are the factors that form a successful club: 

Exude brand values

Brand authenticity is something that consumers want to see. A brand that reflects its brand values both internally and externally is perceived as a consistent and trustable by its customers.

For example, SK-II took on women empowerment as a subject matter to create awareness around Chinese women who are pressurized to get married. SK-II rolled out #changedestiny campaign where videos titled, "Marriage Market Takeover" and "Meet Me Halfway" reflected the antiquated value system of China. The discussion around dwindling interest of marriage and hope for change triggered lively discussion on Chinese social media like Weibo and WeChat.

Promote learning

Direct-to-consumer marketing supports knowledge flow from brands to consumers. It positions consumer at the centre of all strategy and activity increasing brand relationships. And most Chinese customers base their purchase decision on customer reviews. The presence of a discussion forum will help to generate more traffic to a product or service.

In China, the Xiaohongshu app (a Chinese lifestyle app) hosts a variety of product or experience based reviews and recommendations shared by individual users. Personalized feedback provided by the users builds trust among the user community and promotes ongoing engagement with the app for further information.

Community building

Beauty brands can also apply influencer marketing to produce content either on social platforms or conduct makeup tutorial with walk-in customers. Constant learning answers the need within the members to stay connected for the latest updates of beauty related news or trends.

The home-grown beauty brand, Pechoin, rebranded itself by optimizing its product design and targeting younger Chinese millennials who supported local brands. Through key opinion leader (KOL) marketing campaigns, it exhibited the real experience of using the product, inspiring viewers to try out the products for themselves. The campaigns proved successful, and Pechoin was crowned as the top-selling domestic beauty brand last year. 

Create a space to congregate

Building a space to congregate is essential for a community to thrive, interact with other consumers and with the brand. It can be either online, offline, or both.

Recently, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) Beauty Hotel made its way through major cities across the globe connecting with its cosmetic followers. Breaking free from its usual retail booths, YSL introduced a one-day beauty hotel that included the likes of neon lights, and Instagram worthy beauty stops. Fusing socialisation and shopping enhanced the overall staycation cum beauty experience. Beauty fanatics appreciated the pampering treatment and continued their conversation through a common hashtag supplied by YSL.

Invite feedback

Millennials have grown up in an era where they are likely to write, react or do both when finalizing their purchase decisions. Incorporating consumers feedback reassures them that the brand listens to them, and boosts their confidence when brands convert those feedback into action via the products or services they offer.

Glossier, a U.K. cosmetic brand conducted field research, understood its customers and as a result widened its range of foundation shades to reach out to different colored consumers. It was a well-received initiative that has improved the brand's sales revenue.

Glossier also dedicates a significant portion of its promotional activity to user-generated content by posting photos and comments from real-life customers on its channels. Integrating customer's posts, Glossier manifests as 'customer-first' company building a deeper relationship with its consumers.

Customers can no longer be treated as single purchase contact. It is imperative for brands to view their customers as members, not consumers. Today's consumers are web-savvy, mobile-enabled data sifters with personality. Transparency in brand values, knowledge sharing, community building, spatial freedom and voice of share are key ingredients for a brand to maintain its gleaming position in the beauty landscape.

Submitted by SGK Inc.