Interview Spotlight: A Journalistic Approach to Beauty Innovation
Louise Court, Award Winning Journalist and Editor
Panel speaker at Trend Beauty, November 2017
As Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and Editorial Director of Hearst UK for many years Louise has had a unique insight into the lives, emotions and insights of one in three women in the UK. She has not only listened to what women really want but run award-winning campaigns on their behalf fighting for what matters to them.
She has now set up her own business working with digital start-ups, doing media and brand consultancy, writing, researching and getting involved with a number of charity initiatives.
Her experience as a journalist means she enjoys finding emotional triggers and uncovering what makes us behave as we do. What drives and motivates an audience isn’t always what brands would like to believe. Every successful consumer-facing business has to know exactly what makes their customers tick – not just their aspirations but what they had for breakfast too. If you can’t walk in their shoes (Prada or Primark), how can you give them what they want and need?
Louise is an experienced moderator, panellist and go-to spokesperson and reviewer for TV and Radio. She loves finding stories that get everyone talking and her support for Crystal Palace football club is the perfect example of unstinting support for an always challenging cause.
As a journalist, Louise has spent her life speaking to people, and apologises in advance if her small talk ends up feeling a bit like an interview. She’s simply curious.
If she wasn’t working in media she’s often been tempted by the life of an estate agent getting paid to nose around other peoples’ homes, wardrobes and bathroom cabinets.
Mantra: “Always try to say yes.”
- Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get into journalism?
I started out in journalism because I am nosey. It is the basic prerequisite. I’ve had loads of different jobs working on local newspapers, national press, editing Cosmopolitan for nearly nine years and being Editorial Director across the Hearst UK titles. Now I’ve gone back to my first love: writing and consulting on new ideas and projects in digital as well as other media. It is fascinating working with diverse companies from established charities to start-ups. Every day is different. Perfect if you like finding out about other people and how they live their lives.
2. As a journalist, how do you think the way consumers absorb media has changed over the last decade?
It has changed hugely. A lot of what people want to know isn’t different but how they want to consume it is. The biggest change has to be mobile phones. We are all surgically attached to them. It doesn’t mean people don’t like reading print but the first thing most of us do when we wake up is pick up our phones to find out what is going on in the world.
3. What would you consider to be the biggest digital transformations to date for the beauty industry?
The use of social media and the birth of bloggers and vloggers have transformed the industry. The experts can no longer be detached individuals preaching from an ivory tower. Digital has democratised it in many ways but it has also put people under more pressure to look great and to want the approval of complete strangers. The selfie has a lot to answer for. I have just spent twenty minutes and deleted endless attempts on my Instagram account showing my new blonde highlights. The hair looked great – the face was more of a problem. I eventually settled on a photo with lots of hair but only showing one eye!
4. A high percentage of beauty brands are using influencer marketing as a fundamental part of their digital strategy. Which brands do you think do this particularly well?
I think Benefit do a wonderful job with Lisa Potter-Dixon, their head make up artist. She totally is the brand – down to earth, fun, celebratory and she uses make up to have a good time. You don’t feel you are being sold to. L’Oréal understand that one influencer, however many followers they have, isn’t right for all markets and use micro-influencers well.
5. What are the biggest mistakes brands are making in their marketing and communications strategies?
Some brands look at big numbers and put their spend there without thinking. I have seen luxury anti-ageing skincare ads pop up on websites for influencers whose followers are in their early teens. Some brands need to ask more what job they want their spend to do. Is it to create brand awareness with a certain customer or to shift product. Hero products need both. You need to talk directly to your chosen customer. One size does not fit all. Everyone likes to do what is new and cool. Brilliant. But don’t assume older customers will stay loyal if you don’t bother to talk to them too. I have recently done a big piece of research into the relationship between Millennials and their Mums — while everyone is chasing the former the latter is just as trend conscious in her own way and is not standing still in the way she shops.
6. We’re in a digital age where we’re constantly seeing new product innovations and emerging beauty brands. Is this affecting the consumer’s brand loyalty as far as beauty products go?
Consumers have so much to choose from these days that it has become a vicious circle. The more brands innovate the more people want to try new things and then customers get bored and brands need to innovate more. But there are also endless requests to beauty editors from furious customers raging because a beauty company has discontinued their favourite shade of lipstick or nail varnish. Ultimately if you find a product you love you will stay loyal like a long-married couple — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few one night stands along the way.
7. How can beauty brands ensure that their content strategy has the right balance of evergreen and innovative content, to guarantee relevance across the board?
Sometimes you need to remind people of how great a classic product is. Chanel never stops advertising No5 but they always find a new way to make it feel current for fresh and established audiences. Women will always want to know clever ways ( the best ways) to cleanse, apply concealer, know where to put blusher or how to have great skin for instance. There are always new solutions to classic beauty dilemmas. There is a huge audience looking for that information presented in a modern way, on the right platform for a targetted audience.