CEO of cosmetics monodose specialist Livcer, Aude de Livonnière, discusses emerging sampling habits in the midst of the health crisis and how Livstick, the French company’s latest launch, addresses these new constraints.
Livstick is launching as the sampling sector enters a new era. How does it meet the market’s current challenges?
We launched Livstick last week, but we’d been working on it for several years already—well before the health crisis hit. Originally our idea was to conceive a sample that was sustainable and didn’t call for application using a brush. We also wanted the application to match the sensation of putting on lipstick as closely as possible. With this solution, the consumer doesn’t touch the formula itself, so it meets demand for hygiene. Livstick is suited to any hot-poured formula, not just lipstick, including products for brows, eyes or concealers.
The wooden stick resembles a matchstick with 0.08 grams of formula at its tip. This is a generous dose for a single application, but we can add more or less, as desired. The only constraint is that it is limited to hot-poured formulas.
We also had to keep the price factor in mind, as we knew that if it became a sampling solution at retail, it had to be reasonably priced.
How is this a more sustainable solution?
We opted for an applicator made of FSC-certified wood and an outer shell of PET, which is recyclable; our customers can also choose to use recycled PET. The seal is an aluminum-free material with a PET base.
With increasingly strict hygiene measures in place, will virtual try-on apps and technologies take market share from traditional sampling?
The market for virtual sampling solutions will certainly continue to grow, but there are limits to their ability to render a product’s true color—there is rarely an exact match between what you see on-screen and the product itself. This is especially true when there is an extensive range of colors where the differences are extremely subtle from one shade to another. Not to mention that the color often fluctuates from one screen to the next. There is also the question of texture and scent, which are two essential parameters when selecting a product—these virtual solutions don’t enter into this territory. I believe there is room for both, but I don’t see virtual options replacing traditional sampling as they don’t serve the same purpose.
How do you see sampling evolving at retail?
The segment will see significant growth, mainly due to online sales, especially if, as is the case today, consumers are visiting fewer physical stores and testers disappear.
I also believe that the health crisis will ‘up the ante’ for beauty advisors; they will need to be able to give expert advice as the consumer won’t be able to test every product as in the past. The advisor will need to narrow down the options, and then provide the right sample.
How will the makeup market develop in light of the crisis? Will consumers wearing masks invest in makeup as before?
It seems that there will be two worlds: the outside world, where women don’t wear much makeup, and the world at home, on video, where they will be heavily made up. It’ll be a bit like in countries where women are veiled.
How is your business faring?
We stopped production for just two weeks and thankfully none of our orders or developments have been cancelled. Our order books were full before the crisis hit, so we had our hands full, but what was a real challenge was sourcing from our suppliers, as many of them had closed up shop; for some of our suppliers, things continue to be quite disorganized, but this should smooth out in time. Luckily we had quite a bit of stock.
For now we remain very busy, but we’re keeping our eye on the end of the year to see how the business evolves. That said, I’m a firm believer in the “lipstick index”—that in times of crisis consumers turn to lower-priced pleasures and makeup is undoubtedly one of these!