Pavlina Marinova, CEO and Founder of Pick N Dazzle on the Online Subscription Model, Interview by Irina Barbalova, Global Lead Beauty and Personal Care EUROMONITOR International
Interview conducted and published by Euromonitor International, Feb 10, 2017
Euromonitor International is pleased to present an interview with Pavlina Marinova, CEO of Pick N Dazzle, a beauty subscription service grounded on the principle of personalised recommendations.
With the rising proliferation of beauty subscription boxes, longer term prospects for the model will increasingly necessitate greater focus on expert curation, unique differentiation and a routine-based approach to the service proposition.
Pavlina tells us more about the core aspects of a successful ‘tailored subscription service’, the technology behind it and the best win-win strategies moving forward.
The Pick N Dazzle business model combines a beauty service, product recommendations and beauty advice, with the delivery of recommended products by way of monthly subscription. It’s a curated beauty subscription service, delivered with a little bit of technology.
A number of years ago, I subscribed to a healthy meal plan with daily delivery. Signing-up was done by answering two questions: the number of calories I wanted to have per day, and the number of meals per day. From there, the company took over to create a daily personal meal plan and to deliver it. I felt that this was a fantastic proposition, quick and easy for the customer, compared to the option of selecting dishes myself every day for five intakes, calculating calories, and combining foods. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without in-depth knowledge, and I certainly wouldn’t have done it better than the experts on the matter in the company.
Could this work in beauty, which is very much subject to emotions and impulse purchases?
We believe (also on the basis of market research) that there is an underserved customer segment, which is seeking guidance, recommendation, and a shortcut in finding suitable products to match their personal needs and preferences. So we created Pick N Dazzle based on two fundamentals:
We also fundamentally believe that beauty is a journey and a long-term relationship.
From this perspective, it is surprising that subscription models did not emerge earlier in beauty. We know that most women stick to the same beauty routine or hair salon for years, so the repeated nature of their shopping behaviour is there.
We are still in test markets as we made the decision to develop most of the functionality and the platform while serving customers, to ensure that we mature and adjust based on customer behaviour and feedback.
We have already converted our website and prepared for multi-language, multi-currency and multi-market operations. In the last six months, we ran a dual-market operation to adjust processes in communication, marketing, operations and customer service.
We have ambitions to deliver to more European markets in the coming quarters.
We partner with brands long term and we contract directly.
The partnership is about high marketing exposure through social networks, true product ratings and reviews, and targeting products to specific customers based on the consumer data we have. We also serve customers long term, and it makes sense to feature brands long term.
Indeed, we have cases of customers who have shopped with us every month ever since the start. They have found new favourite products and brands through our service, and they stay with them.
We are very enthusiastic about new brands; they have modern concepts and often use natural or organic ingredients and packaging. They need higher marketing exposure, consumer outreach and feedback on product performance. We do that very well!
We offer a mix of discovery brands and well-known brands with already broad distribution networks. In the latter case, customers shop with us because of the convenience; more conservative customers stick to brands they have already tried and know.
In terms of price tiers, we are in the mass, upper-mass and masstige segments, and exclude the value, bottom-priced segment of the market. There are a number of criteria for brand selection; however, a key factor is quality. No matter the price tag and positioning of the brand, we do not compromise on quality as we put our image behind each product we recommend.
The product ratings we get are fairly high. On average 88-95% of products, selected through our recommendation engine and our experts, are loved by customers. One reason is the targeting.
All of the above shows the great value we create for the brands we sell.
Pick N Dazzle is a beauty tech company rather than a beauty box company.
We have created a recommendation algorithm, which is giving great results. Customer satisfaction rates are rather high and we do not experience product returns.
Most subscription box offers come from a supply-side mind set, with fixed, pre-selected sets of products, offered for sampling/marketing purposes in a discovery journey for the consumer. There are also travel size versions from aspiring brands, delivered at affordable prices for budget-cautious customers. In these models, customers will switch products and brands every month, and it is likely that the usage of samples, to some extent, replaces the buying of full-sized products.
We believe that the sample box customer segment has little overlap with customers who buy and use full-sized products in the long term.
Pick N Dazzle works from the perspective of the consumer, and, in this sense, is more demand-side oriented. Each and every set of products is individually tailored to each customer every month. This level of personalisation with full-sized products is rather new.
We also derive great insights from customers’ personal beauty profiles and preferences, and we buy products and partner with brands based on that.
Businesswise, we believe that this is also a healthier approach, as customer demand is driving our product portfolio and overall business decisions, as opposed to brand or product marketing requirements.
Subscriptions boxes are usually broadly classified into Discovery journey and Replenishment/supply services.
I would say that Pick N Dazzle is in the Tailored box subscription service market: The first and only personal beauty box with full-sized products, curated individually for every customer every month.
We offer product discovery based on personal recommendation, with a high-degree of product suitability, for customers who want that.
We also facilitate recurrent product ordering for tried and tested products, from a channel our customers trust, and in an easy and convenient way.
There can be interesting aspects to this model, for example in product planning and management: Customers who select products themselves (as opposed to using our recommendation service) tend to do so a month or two in advance, which allows us to plan for having the right products at the right place and time. This generates savings in our operations and inventory management, which we deliver back to the customer in the form of loyalty discounts. This creates a win-win situation.
From the consumer’s perspective, the core of Pick N Dazzle’s offer is the personal curation, the individual recommendation, the convenience and value. To deliver this, we focus on gathering and analysing consumer data, and targeting via our recommendation engine; this process being constantly adjusted and enriched with customer feedback on product performance.
We would like to continue excelling in this direction.
Customer loyalty is sustained as long as the model is solving pain points like choice paralysis: too many products, too many options, not enough time.
Beauty is a noisy space. Filtering, focusing, making it effortless to choose saves time and makes the journey easy, especially when this is happening with the individual customer in mind.
Filling knowledge gaps with recommendations and advice is a key benefit that helps make us different.
Giving customers the ability to overcome uncertainty about ingredients, quality and suitability of new products and brands, via recommendations from a trusted source and from other customers like them, is highly appreciated.
For time-poor customers, impulsive, on-the-go shopping can sometimes lead to disappointment and unnecessarily wasted time.
The customer journey at Pick N Dazzle is replicating, to some extent, the bricks and mortar shopping experience. Entering a new shop, one is likely to seek guidance and assistance. Additionally, with bricks-and-mortar beauty stores, shoppers tend to return to the same store and pick the same brands; it is similar online.
At Pick N Dazzle, we often help customers with product selection for their first box. This is appreciated, especially in the case of new brands and products, for which we, at the company, have greater insights.
Some customers continue with the Curated box service because it is easy and they are happy with it.
Others move to the option of making all their product selections themselves, quickly and easily, with the help of our recommendation engine.
Our customers also have the option of choosing some of the products in the box themselves, while still using our curation service and leaving the selection to us for the others. This is an exciting option for those who wish to retain the surprise and excitement element of receiving new products, while also serving their immediate needs for known products.
Maintaining novelty is key in fashion and beauty. It’s a challenge for brands, as well as distribution channels, to innovate in the customer journey.
A subscription model is a cycle of repeating transactions, usually for the same amount of money, but not necessarily.
Everything else can be customised in our opinion.
This includes the cycle of subscriptions, which can and should be customised, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or otherwise. This provides greater flexibility to the consumer and helps increase customer and subscription retention.
Lately, there have been new ideas about the mobility on subscriptions. For instance, families might no longer buy cars, but they could have transportation available on-demand through a subscriptionservice. So it may turn out to be more cost effective, in the end, to spend a fixed amount via a subscription with additional on-demand consumption, provided the subscription price is reasonable.
It would take more effort and investment to continuously seek the best price for a product or service at a given moment in time.
Indeed, buying on subscription is one option and it doesn’t preclude from offering a classic one-time sale for individual products.
This is still our target as we develop and refine our recommendation engine over time for anonymous users.
From a social engagement standpoint, we have had several successes engaging with and reaching new customers through major social networking platforms, organising various events, creating content, as well as working with prominent fashion bloggers in our markets.
We are seeking to continue developing communication through social networks; however, interaction and experience on platform is a priority.
In terms of brand partnerships, we have already been working with a number of brands and are in the process of expanding this activity, as the main focus so far has been on platform development.
Do I believe in close customer relationships, personalisation, advice and recommendation? I clearly do.
It is not enough nowadays to come up with product offerings online by showing static product pictures and price.
Many online shops today, and even malls, are quite impersonal, and customers are on their own, often buying with one main criteria in mind: price.
I believe that the experience of buying beauty products should be beautiful, whether online or in a specialised store or beauty studio.
Customers want to get a feel of the product experience even before buying a product, through product stories for example, combining information and content, engaging content and advice.
I believe that there is a market for a personalised beauty service, which starts from the customer’s needs perspective: making their lives easier by saving time and money, and by selecting beauty products that are specifically tailored to their uniqueness, individual features and beauty needs.
Our mission is to help and facilitate the process of matching each customer to the right product, being supported by constant consumer experience feedback, and with an option for a long-term journey!
Through Pick N Dazzle, new products find the right customers to love them and use them long term. Isn’t that the dream of every product designer and brand?
Read the full Interview on the EUROMONITOR International website.
Pick N Dazzle is stepping on the red carpet in London with the support of more than 7.000 votes from fans, customers and lovers! We humbly accept your recognition for our effort in the last 12 months to make women in Romania more beautiful and happy!
We share the great news and we wholeheartedly express a big THANK YOU to the Pick N Dazzle community for placing the iconic red beauty box as a top winner of Pure Beauty Awards 2015 in the category Best New Retail Innovation.
The best in beauty for 2015 were announced at an exclusive black and gold-themed ceremony held in The Ballroom at London’s iconic Savoy Hotel last week. More than 332 short-listed products, concepts, brands and companies competed in 34 categories for the love and the votes of customers and readers. Only few stood out at the top.
The event is always a highlight on the beauty industry calendar in the UK with key beauty industry professionals in attendance to withness the success of new entrants in the past year on the
European and the global beauty arena.
It is a great honor and priviledge for Pick N Dazzle to be placed in the company of key UK beauty retailers including Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser, Debenhams, The Perfume Shop, Boots, Superdrug, QVC, feelunique.com and escentual.com.
This award goes to all our customers, bloggers, partners and to our team!
On our end we continue our mission - to search for the best and most interesting beauty products and to match them to the needs, preferrances and styles of our customers.
Read the full list of 2015 Pure Beauty Awards winners here.
Pick N Dazzle is a beauty digital company for people who find pages and pages of online shopping both overwhelming and impersonal — and who find the mall the same way. With the company’s new personalized shopping site, the magic comes from data algorithms and experts’ advice. It’s fast, it’s simple, it’s better value for money and most importantly – the choice is right.
Pick N Dazzle is a new company nailing the newest hip trend in the world right now - the personalized e-commerce. It is one of a few digital start-ups in the beauty and fashion industry making a bet that highly personalized online shopping can deliver a better e-commerce experience and customer satisfaction. The idea is pretty simple and quite genius - Pick N Dazzle chooses products for its customers based on their preferences and the firm’s algorithms. Starting from this original idea, Pick N Dazzle has built a recommendation system based on a proprietary engine providing individually curated beauty products to its customers so they won’t waste their precious time on searching and testing cosmetic products anymore. The company ensured financing to develop its platform and is gaining more and more interest from investors in the past months.
The Pick N Dazzle big data engine aggregates the choices and feedback of thousands of customers. This web-based technology uses a combination of detailed customer-supplied data, brand and product-specific information, beauty market intelligence, and input from personal stylists. And while on the surface the customer can see and fill out really simple and quick Beauty Profile just within minutes, there is a greater philosophy and intricate algorithms that work behind the scenes to create unique profile for each customer predicting what they might want to buy.
By creating an account on www.pickndazzle.com, a unique profile is built for each customer based on a detailed model of their preferences, personal traits and features (such as skin and hair type, makeup preferences, specific brands they like, etc). This information is then used by the proprietary engine to create individually curated ‘beauty collections’, containing four full-size products and free samples selected from the products of Pick N Dazzle’s extensive partner list.
The recommendation engine is currently in beta testing, with a number of pre-selected users and beauty specialists using the system and participating in focus-groups to refine and enhance the curated choices made by the algorithm. Even though the company is just starting its service in October, it already has more than 12 000 fans liking and commenting on the Pick N Dazzle Facebook Beauty Page. With strong focus on social marketing the company also already produced the first social product videos that are gaining traction on the Pick N Dazzle YouTube channel. There are more than 1 000 registered users on the website as well, most of them with a filled out Beauty Profile and ready to embrace the hip and trendy service of Pick N Dazzle that is launching initially in Romania as a test market before a European roll out is put in motion.
Internationally born, the company’s start-up team consists of professionals from 5 countries, who are topping the 15 years of international business experience of the founder Pavlina Marinova - a top executive from the beauty industry. Earlier this year she left her high profile job in the CEO office of a big global cosmetics company to start the new venture. Marinova holds EMBA from TRIUM, a joint degree of NYU Sterns, LSE and HEC and has studied in New York, London, Paris, Shanghai and New Delhi about global industries and trends, inno-vations and consumer trends for the future. In the 2014 FT ranking TRIUM is ranked as the No.1 Global EMBA.
The new beauty digital start-up believes that every woman needs a best friend who is a beauty expert to cut through the clutter and find the best products for her. And that’s exactly what Pick N Dazzle does.
Pick N Dazzle, a trendy e-commerce digital start-up based in Amsterdam, is one of the handful of companies in the world to launch a beauty curation service. The CEO of the company Pavlina Marinova decided to start the Pick N Dazzle beauty service for the first time in Romania as a test market in October, before a European roll out.
“We want to simplify a women’s beauty search and make it quick and easy, as we understand how hard is sometimes to be a multitasker and how super busy women are today,” said Marinova. “Pick N Dazzle is for those who enjoy using high quality products at a better price, but who don’t have the time to work too hard to find them. We take the beauty world by storm to select and deliver what works for each customer. We offer brands with a story, heritage brands or new and innovative concepts, all with high quality ingredients and real functional claims. We buy directly from the producers to ensure the value proposition and quality”.
The idea behind the service is simple and quite genius. You fill out your Beauty Profile on www.pickndazzle.com for free. The information you provide is about your beauty preferences and style - your skin and hair type, makeup preferences, favorite brands, etc. Within seconds, a personalized beauty profile is created based on a wide array of metrics. This web-based technology uses a combination of detailed customer-supplied data, brand and product-specific information, beauty market intelligence, and input from personal stylists. The talented experts from Pick N Dazzle, each with more than 20 years of experience in the cosmetics field, will use the information from your Beauty Profile to get to know you and to bring you the perfect products for your needs that they’ve tested, love and swear by. Thus, you will receive your personal Picks, 4 full-size products and free samples from established and emerging brands right to your door. The products are 100% personalized for the needs of the customer.
But Ms. Marinova said Pick N Dazzle also blends content and commerce; the site discusses beauty trends, reviews, tips and tricks and how-to’s as well as gives expert advice, problem solving solutions and more information about products featured in the boxes.
In the recent months Pick N Dazzle is gathering steam: more than 12 000 fans are liking and discussing on the Pick N Dazzle Facebook Page. The company already produced a number of social product videos, right in the heart of London, so YouTube is also starting to work for the brand. Although the service is still in beta testing, more than 1 000 people have signed up and most of them have filled out their Beauty Profile to receive their personal Picks. One of the reasons for the success is that the e-commerce that adds a personal touch is actually much more than that, it is kind of discovery commerce. It is really suitable for people who might find pages and pages of online shopping both overwhelming and impersonal — and who find the mall the same way. In this case, it’s the web and not the stores that provide the personal touch.
“The magic of Pick N Dazzle’s efficacy and power comes from our intricate data generator. The beauty comes from our high quality products with which our customers could experiment, gain inspiration and shine beautiful from inside and out.” said Marinova.