Can't be beat – the traditional beauty sales associate has lackluster appeal when stacked against the army of beauty micro-influencers – all sporting their own following, in-depth product knowledge and social media image – that make up team Beauty Barrage.

Be it pop-up shops, brand field teams or event activations, the Beauty Barrage micro-influencer engages the customer at the front lines – the beauty counter, to enact massive appeal enacting each beauty brand as if it is their own namesake.

And in the past year, these same micro-influencers which encompass an over 300-strong Beauty Barrage team, led by founder, chief executive officer and "beauty maverick," Sonia Summers, have guided sales across the U.S. and Canada servicing over 3,000 storefronts and converting sales in the field by way of their strategic, turn-key solution for sales teams.

 Sonia Summers, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Beauty Barrage

Numerous retailers such as Revolve and Ulta Beauty, the beauty chain giving shelf-space to brands with over a thousand store locations nationwide, have already enlisted the Beauty Barrage team. Alongside advanced product knowledge, guided selling and training techniques, each Beauty Barrage member is differentiated by his or her social media prowess, an item typically absent from the average beauty sales associate's résumé.

But ask Summers about her past year, and she'll remind you, "we're just getting started." However, just as any face isn't fully finished without a dusting of highlighter, it's best to look back on the Beauty Barrage highlights from the past year to learn how Beauty Ambassadors are leveraging both in-store experiences and expertise.

Micro-Influencers Can't Be Beat at WWD Style Lounge

Looking back to the WWD Style Lounge in Austin, Tex., Beauty Barrage's presence and authority was certainly felt. With the signature red-lipped pout and beauty mark logo across a branded touch-up beauty counter, attendees of the WWD Style Lounge could glean a glow or advice from Summers, who later spoke on a panel.

Speaking on the importance of the micro-influencer, Summers condensed the value provided, as reported previously in WWD. What separates this force is education and first-hand influence, because the Beauty Barrage team of beauty advisors, trainers and managers are, first and foremost, "makeup artists, aestheticians [or] hair stylists."

Also speaking at the event was Kristy Engels, senior vice president of marketing at Beauty Strategy Group, parent company to Beauty Barrage, acting as the brand-incubator division of their business.

Beauty Barrage teams up with Revolve for their first holiday beauty pop-up event.

The Beauty Retailer's Boon at Revolve Holiday Pop-up

Within their proprietary client portal technology, Beauty Barrage offers brands a range of services at the touch and convenience of a web app. Training and education, retail and spa rollout strategies, real-time reporting, inventory supervision, GPS tracking and event management are all poised for full transparency on and off the selling floor.

Doling out shifts with ease, the app ensures that the Beauty Ambassador is prepped with shift location and time, as well as the context of the visit or background on the retailer.

As the trained and patient hand of a makeup artist guides a look to precision, so the techniques taught by Beauty Barrage tutorials is tailored. Lessons informing of proper techniques for hair tools, color cosmetics and even station prep is all demoed in the app.

Promoting better partnership and collaboration, the Beauty Barrage app supplements real-time reporting with accurate results, and from there the Beauty Barrage team works their magic, lifting sales and activating events through high-touch and human connection. In recent results, GlamGlow, a Los Angeles-based beauty brand maintaining the allure of Hollywood glamour, saw a 31 percent lift in sales from Beauty Barrage, while Sexy Hair, specifically their best-selling dry shampoo, saw a 76 percent sales increase from the aid of Beauty Ambassadors.

Brushing away inefficiencies on the selling floor, the Beauty Barrage staff means business, and their numbers show.

Sales Lifted, Events Activated Across Channels

Attaching this same value is Revolve with the launch of the company's first holiday beauty pop-up in partnership with the Beauty Barrage team. Similar to swatching one's true color foundation, the Revolve and Beauty Barrage partnership was the perfect match. The fashion e-tailer is known for their own influencer-first strategy whereby digital-native beauty brands such as Becca cosmetics or Ghd are housed alongside Millennial-minded, affordable luxury apparel such as For Love & Lemons, House of Harlow 1960 or Sundry.

Expressing gratitude for the partnership, Erin Hill, now event producer, partnerships at the Revolve Beauty Pop-up Shop said, "the pop-up shop was great" and the Beauty Barrage team made it an "overall success" through their continued engagement and understanding of the product.

Across its inaugural 15-day run in Los Angeles in December 2017, the event drew appearances from influencers such as Arielle Charnas of Something Navy and YouTube star Lauren Elizabeth. Alongside live beauty demonstrations and product consultations from the Beauty Barrage Brand Ambassadors, guests could visit a build-a-box station and curate their own #RevolveBeauty box.

Echoing the same appreciation present at the Revolve pop-up, Stacey Hull former vice president of retail business development at Macadamia Beauty, at Ulta Beauty further validated the value, "On average, Beauty Barrage Ambassador's visited locations sold double the units than non-Beauty Barrage locations," highlighting the front-facing relationship Brand Ambassadors provide to their respective clients.

Beauty Past, Lustrous Trends Ahead

A palette of predictions were made for the beauty universe, involving personalized loyalty programs, experiential marketing in the form of beauty pop-up shops and the rise of retailers in the beauty mix.

While Summers previously advised of the movement of retailers into the independent beauty landscape to WWD, with Riley Rose, "Forever 21's edgy beauty brand emporium," introducing stand-alone store locations across the year, the trend is likely to continue into 2019.

Consumer trends such as pared-down product or favoring local ingredient sourcing were also witnessed in the year, and may spur further rollout in the coming year. Regardless of what trends play out on next year's beauty counter, the only sheer lesson is that the retailers and brands that refuse to engage the consumer with truly knowledgeable staff will be left pouting.


Reprinted from WWD.