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How Brands gain loyal customers? - The curious case of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

What is the factor that makes someone choose a brand over another? Is it the product quality? Accessibility? Affordability? Maybe. But none of these factors really guarantee loyalty to that brand. If I see a better product, let’s say- a Soap bar, with better quality, in my budget and available a lot faster than the one I purchase usually, I’d probably not think much before buying it.

So, what is it really that makes someone loyal to a brand? Especially someone like me. I never bothered to ask myself that question and get answers until I was introduced to the infamous make-up brand Bobbi Brown. This, is the story of how Bobbi Brown Cosmetics gains customers for life.

Couple years ago I was looking for a spot concealer that matched my skin tone and didn’t fade or cake up in a couple hours. I was recommended the brand Bobbi Brown by my cousin who told me that their staff pay special attention in getting the right kind of makeup for their customers. She did warn me that the brand is expensive but she considered her purchases an investment.

The word expensive with regard to make-up was enough for me to move past that recommendation. Yet, here I was, a week later at the entrance of the Bobbi brown store in the mall. I walked in expecting a few staff bombarding me with recommendations of foundations, which is what happens every-time I enter the beauty section of Lifestyle/Health and glow. They would have a clear message for me – ‘You have acne-scars on your face, you should be ashamed of it and you need to hide it with thick layers or beige coloured creams’

But to my delight, none of that happened when I entered this store. There were only two male staff in there and one of them with a polite smile asked, ‘How can I help you today ma’am?’ Once I told him, I was looking for a spot concealer for my face, he brought two shades that he was certain, would match my skin. Once we tested the two on my hand, he recommended that I test the right shade on my face as well. I was hesitant and still very much unwilling to make a purchase but I tried it anyway. He taught me how to evenly apply the concealer with my ring finger. ‘You won’t need much concealer in quantity’, he said. I noticed that I was able to blend the makeup so much better than I ever had earlier because of his tips.

What he said next threw me off a bit. He asked me not to apply the concealer on the fresh red acne on my face. I looked at him in surprise and he said, ‘They will need time to heal. You don’t need to hide them.’ Until that day, I could have bet big money that never in a cosmetic store, someone would say that to me.

He went on to say, ‘You won’t need the concealer on a regular basis, just use it for special occasions and such. Rest of the days, just work on healing your scars, drink plenty of water and eat a lot of fruits. Your face is beautiful with and without scars, I mean, it’s not like everyone has perfect skin, right?’. WHO IS THIS MAN AND HOW IS HE IN BEAUTY INDUSTRY?

I nodded but still quite speechless. He said, ‘The concealer is just so it elevates your look when you need that for a special occasion, I hope you don’t have to depend on it every single day’. By now I have had at least three brain explosions because of this person.

He applied some setting powder on my face to avoid oil secretion and directed me to a well-lit wall mirror to see how the product worked on me. The concealer had blended well enough for me to believe that I had no scars at all. One could not tell I had make-up on unless they saw me apply it. I couldn’t tell so myself!

Make-up was not an investment for me. Not until that day, when I realised that I don’t need it to feel better as I look at myself in the mirror. Not until the moment I realised that it is same as a great outfit I own, something nice but not meant for every day. I bought a concealer worth 3500 INR that day and walked out of that store. I have repurchased no other brand of concealer since then and till date, that is the most expensive make-up item I own.

A few days later I came to learn about the founder of the brand, Bobbi Brown. I learnt that her whole agenda behind makeup products was to elevate the beauty we already possess and not manipulate it to look different. What really impressed me was to see how agenda was followed to the word, even at a store half-way across the world. The staff didn’t even try and sell anything to me, he only tried to help. And he did it in a way that aligns with the brand vision.

This vision of the brand that celebrates beauty within and uses make-up only as tools to elevate ourselves is why I became a dedicated customer and a loyal fan of Bobbi Brown cosmetics. The founder Bobbi Brown is no longer associated with the brand but the reason she created the brand still lives through her products and the brand voice.

At this point, you’d probably ask – ‘That’s a cool story, Jay but how does that help my business to gain loyal customers?’.

If you have a business, following points act as key factors that help you build a strong base of loyal customers.

  • Start with why. Why does your brand exist? Why should anyone buy from you instead of your dozen competitors?

  • What pain-points are you solving for your customers? Are you communicating this solution to your customers properly?

  • Are you targeting the customers that actually need your products?

  • Does your product always align with your brand values?

  • Do your new products reflect the same values even when you update them according to the market trends and demands?

  • Ensure that your brand’s vision and agenda is communicated till the last person in contact with the customers. They are the first touch-point for the customer to know your brand.

All these factors combine to form loyalty among your customers. It is necessary that you answer these questions in the beginning of your business itself as that is what builds a strong base for your brand. If you choose to do so in the beginning, you will need the help of a good brand strategist to be able to bring these factors to life.

And, of course, you know where to find me when you need one.


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