How Stylist is using content to sell beauty online

Stylist recently announced the winners of its esteemed annual beauty awards, Best Beauty, and this year is the second time the magazine has made the winning products available on its website for readers to purchase.

Stylist uses an affiliate model, where retailers pay the magazine a commission for directing sales their way. Since the launch last September, 185 sales have been made through the website, generating £4,000 for retailers.

Anusha Couttigane, senior analyst at Kantar Retail, said the transaction value of around £20 is a good “treat spend target” for beauty retailers.

“It doesn’t break the bank, but shoppers feel they’re getting value for money, especially as the products have been reviewed and endorsed by a widely-read fashion publication,” she explained.

Since launch last year, the site has received 17,000 users and 80,000 page views, while 2,500 users have visited since the awards on 19 June, generating 14,500 page views in a matter of weeks. More interestingly, these readers are more engaged shoppers, spending an average of 5 minutes 43 seconds browsing the beauty eCommerce site.

“It looks like Stylist still has some work to do to boost its conversions,” added Coutigane. “With thousands of views and decent dwell time, I’d expect to see more than 185 sales. However it’s still a new platform, so it probably needs more time to gain traction.”

Sophie Robinson, chief marketing officer at Stylist publisher, Shortlist Media, said: “We have seen an incredible growth in sales from the website since launching Best Beauty by Stylist. We want to provide our readers with the ultimate list of the most effective beauty products picked by the Stylist team, the industry’s most esteemed experts and, most importantly, 500 Stylist readers. The site acts like a shopping list for customers, tested and chosen by them.”

The Best Beauty site categorises products by complexion, eyes, nails, hair, body, fragrance, skincare and lips, while the product pages clearly highlight the Stylist Beauty Hero Award winners from each category, with comments from the judges about why it won and other product recommendations at the bottom of the page.

Customers wishing to buy a product are then redirected to various online beauty retailers, including Harvey Nichols, Debenhams, Liberty London and Look Fantastic, to complete their purchase.

There is also a degree of prestige being associated with the Best Beauty Awards and the magazine only features products from the awards. The products are available all year around and Stylist said the site acts as a “definitive guide of the best, must-have products” curated by a trusted, non-biased source.

The awards ceremony took place in June and was featured in the physical magazine handed out to almost half a million commuters at mainline, bus and underground stations and town centre locations in major cities around the UK. The magazine covered 113 categories and winners were voted for by 50 leading experts in the beauty industry, as well as 500 Stylist readers. 

Couttigane said this it is not the first time a media outlet has tried to “shopify” its content. “These kinds of relationships are becoming more common,” she said, pointing to Farfetch’s recent deal with Condé Nast.

“Numerous ecommerce platforms already take ‘editorial’ approaches to retailing; ASOS and Net-a-Porter are both very content driven, and ShopStyle is another good example where its affiliate model drives traffic from thousands of bloggers and influencers.”

She added: “I would say that the USPs of Stylist’s experiment are that the same level of attention doesn’t tend to be given exclusively to beauty when it comes to ecommerce, so it’s plugging a bit of a gap. What’s more, it’s really providing a service to traditional retailers like Boots and John Lewis that don’t have a content-driven ecommerce strategy.”