Bare Escentuals is among the world's top beauty brands. In 2012, the mineral makeup line sold to Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido for $1.7 billion. When Leslie Blodgett became CEO in 1994, Bare Escentuals looked destined to fail. However, Blodgett quickly realized the power of DRTV and establishing a connection with her audience. Through the advertising and payment solutions provided by QVC, she was able to build the brand into the household name it is today.
The power of television
Interestingly, it was a connection with television that first introduced Blodgett to the product she would eventually sell. In a recent interview with Glamour, Blodgett spoke of her mother's inclination toward face sans makeup. Without an at-home cosmetics icon, Blodgett began to admire the perfectly applied foundation of the women she saw on TV. Once she got older, she took on several small cosmetics jobs before and during her time at the Fashion Institute of Technology. These small jobs led to internships and bigger positions with brands such as Neutrogena.
Since the beginning of her cosmetics career, Blodgett had been keenly aware of the importance of connecting with her customers. When talking to Glamour, she mentioned a prior cosmetics job that unnerved her. She felt as though the women shopping didn't enjoy the experience, as though they were "bullied" into it.
"That developed my theory on how to treat people in retail," she said.
Then, in 1994, she took a risk. Bare Escentuals, then a small line of only six stores, was failing. John Hansen, an investor, asked her to join the team, and Blodgett quickly became CEO.
Her new position led to a lot of stress. Despite Blodgett's choice to alter the colors and rename the line bareMinerals, the sales didn't come. Then, Blodgett spent a sleepless night watching QVC and realized that DRTV was the perfect way to market her line.
bareMinerals on QVC
The first bareMinerals ad aired August 1997. Blodgett used a combination of sarcasm and wit (as well as a fake diamond) to appeal to her audience, and it worked. The product sold out.
"The voice of the brand became the girlfriend voice," Blodgett told Glamour.
Soon, products were selling at a rate of $1.4 million an hour, according to the New York Times.
Sales increased as Blodgett continued to display the mineral makeup line on television, but so did the number of women with questions about the product. The QVC message boards were filled with women curious about mineral makeup, and Blodgett spent hours answering them. She was passionate about the line and knew that engaging her customers would increase the effectiveness of the QVC ads. Blodgett saw her efforts pay off as fans began interacting with each other and answering questions before she'd get the chance. Soon, the brand was promoted through full-length infomercials and distributed in stores.
In 2014, Blodgett became the first woman awarded the Visionary of the Year award by WWD Beauty Inc. This honor was given for her dedication to direct marketing and customer engagement.
"I love this industry. I love what it does for women," Blodgett said at the awards ceremony. "I love the people who make it happen: driven people, competitors, innovators who push through barriers and create delightful products, new technology and new ideas that create new realities."
Blodgett brought her company to success by utilizing DRTV and connecting with her customer's wishes. QVC put Blodgett right in the homes of her customers; she instructed them in application techniques, listened to their questions and provided what they wanted.
"You have to hire people who love people, and you have to take care of your customers," she said to Forbes.
DRTV companies can follow in her steps by increasing accessibility, ease of use and offering customers a variety of payment solutions.
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