Are wholesalers using social media to do retail?


December 6, 2020 | By Shruthi Nair

The growth in online shopping has led to the acceleration of alternative shopping habits like social commerce, which is estimated to grow to $604.5 billion by 2027, at a 31.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2020 and 2027, according to Stock Apps.

Beauty entrepreneur and founder of multi-million dollar brand Rodial, Maria Hatzistefanis capitalized heavily on social commerce during the pandemic that resulted in increasing her business’ overall growth by 20% – most of which was driven by Instagram – despite losing on in-store sales.

“Our main focus has been Instagram stories. This year, we are overall on 20% growth, despite having lost on the wholesale aspect. We’ve gained so much on the online side of business mainly driven by Instagram”, said Maria Hatzistefanis.

During the pandemic, Hatzistefanis had to take a different approach to connect with her clients as she couldn’t do the public appearances or book signings anymore. As a result, she took to social media to do daily live chats and tutorials to create a sense of community around her brand.

“We had to find a way to communicate with our customers directly. During the lockdown I started doing daily chats and tutorials. The daily chats have really worked and our existing audience have really related to these unedited, unmonitored organic chats”, she said.

Next door neighbour over Kylie Jenner

Hatzistefanis has her brands in some of the most prestigious stores (physical and online) around the world including Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale’s and Ounass in the UAE with some very high profile celebrities like Kylie Jenner endorsing the products.

In a 2019 report by influencer marketing agency, ‘Mediakix’, 80 percent of marketers strongly believe in influencer marketing, with approximately two-thirds of them raising marketing budgets of their business to accommodate this approach.

However, today she relies on micro-influencers and content creators that are able to garner better engagement for her products than the big name celebrities who can’t stick to brands for the long term.

Back in the days, celebrities were big when it came to endorsing brands. And that was before they came up with their own brands. Now that’s changing as celebrities are endorsing one brand on one day and another the next day. Things have changed now as you can’t depend on one celebrity for giving you the exposure”, she pointed.

“We prefer working with micro and medium-sized influencers as they have a more engaged community”, she added.

What next for MrsRodial?

Hatzistefanis isn’t looking to open any physical retail outlets in the region or back in London as she doesn’t find the model profitable for her. What started as a beauty solution to fill the gap in the market for a serious skincare range back in 1999, has today grown to be become a well-known heritage cosmetic brand that saw a turnover of $30 million last year.

“Rodial has always been about strange and unusual ingredients like bee venom, dragon’s blood and snake serum. Over the years we have developed a loyal client base who love these products”, she said explaining that she stays relevant in the market today with her unique product offerings and loyal customer base.

The Middle East market is within her top 10 distributor worldwide and she is looking to expand further. “We will be launching with Sephora Asia and are hoping to launch with Sephora Dubai as well”, she said.

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