EMRAH KOVACOGLU’S vision for totalbeauty MEDIA GROUP
A Review Of The Company’s Growth Spurt And Future Goals
, Founder and CEO of Total Beauty Media Group, started the company five years ago and is now poised to take it to the next level. Mr. Kovacoglu looked back on the company’s accomplishments and discussed its future direction.
Beauty Fashion: What is your vision for Total Beauty Media Group?
: I began my career as an Electrical Engineer, and most people would never have predicted that I would found one of the top online beauty publishers. It’s important to understand why the company was started from a consumer and marketer standpoint.
The big AHA for me on the consumer side was that shoppers were overwhelmed by all of the new beauty product introductions each year. The beauty industry launches the second highest number of products behind dry grocery products.
About 80% of the $42 billion beauty industry is transacted in the food/drug/mass retail channels where the consumer has no help in the store. So the consumer was looking for trusted and comprehensive resources to help her make the right decision, and that option didn’t exist.
Another marketing insight was my discovery in 2005-2006 that P&G and other big beauty manufacturers were beginning to shift advertising dollars from traditional media to online, but there was no resource similar to WebMD to enable beauty companies to buy media against a large audience.
Those two insights led me to leave [my position] at P&G to start a beauty media company trusted by consumers, which would be sought after as a beauty media partner by the brands.
We created a company that lives at the intersection of the consumer and the marketer. We haven’t changed that vision, but only added services to achieve its goals.
We have built the company on five pillars:
We have great content and product for the visitors to our site, and provide service as well as build content for our advertisers. The content that is produced on our site, such as video or text-based content is a great service that could also be used by the advertiser on their site.
We have built a large audience around our content and have different advertising vehicles for brands to intercept consumers on our properties.
Brands/advertisers can conduct research. We work with brands on custom research initiatives. The brands that want to reach our consumers to advertise their products are the same ones that want to talk to our users.
We do different events to activate the consumer. They include sampling programs, events offline with consumers and bloggers and retail events.
The Total Beauty Collection is a beauty discovery/sampling program allowing women to try products for a low, flat fee before they purchase at full price.
Moving forward, I want TotalBeauty.com to be a household name for any type of beauty information. Our talented editorial team is producing award-winning content for Web, video and mobile channels. I want consumers to see TotalBeauty.com as the top beauty information resource.
We are introducing new services for consumers, and the Total Beauty Collection is one of them. Consumers can discover those products at a very low cost, and they are evaluated either through our editorial or the product reviews contributed by users.
BF: What have you learned from the consumers’ interaction with the Total Beauty Collection?
: The Total Beauty Collection, which was piloted last year, is all about product discovery. Based on the learning, we launched a multiple Collection assortment for consumers to try a range of brands. The results have been strong. One of the things we learned from the initial launch was that consumers like themed Collections and a story behind the Collection.
It is difficult to tell that story in a physical environment, since products are located in different areas of a store. You can tell that story in an online environment by bundling up the digital shopping experience in a unique way, which we’ve captured at TotalBeauty.com.
BF: Are you exploring co-branding opportunities?
: Yes, and our first co-branding partner was HSN. We curated a Total Beauty Collection for HSN, and for the first time in their 35-year history, they produced an entire 24-hour programming period and called it the Total Beauty Confidence. Along with a discussion of the benefits of the brands, our team brought consumer reviews and ratings into the conversation. The Collection was one of the highest-selling product groups on HSN that day. This opportunity helps to boost product discovery by consumers and leverage Total Beauty’s credibility.
For the HSN/Total Beauty Collection that airs in March, we introduced unique new products along with some that were presented in the first collection. We have also included some how-to’s.
We are looking at other co-branding collections with retailers or other brands. It might be a brick-and-mortar retailer or a specific brand. We would support it through our site and their site as well as an in-store location.
Another partnership in the works is with a national health and fitness chain that will soon be announced. We will develop a Total Beauty Collection and content for them.
From its inception, TotalBeauty.com has covered everything beauty-product-related or body-care-related—hair, skincare and makeup. What we hadn’t covered was health, nutrition and wellness as a means to becoming or staying more beautiful. We introduced a health/nutrition/lifestyle component to our business about 18 months ago and have had strong results from a content and an advertising standpoint.
We created a channel on our home page, and that health/nutrition/lifestyle content has been the best performing on our site. It has attracted a lot of advertisers who may not traditionally participate in a beauty environment but want to reach that beauty-driven audience. We have food/vitamin/beverage brands such as EBOOST, Nature and Kellogg’s as partners.
BF: How do you position Total Beauty Media Group in the beauty culture? Who are your competitors?
: Competition can be looked at in two ways. There is competition from a user mindset. Where is the user spending her time? There is competition from an advertiser dollar standpoint. There is overlap in those two as well.
Traditional magazine companies like Condé Nast and Hearst have some great brand properties and digital versions of them. They provide beauty content as well as try to help and inspire women.
There are three factors that differentiate us from the competition:
You won’t see another beauty publication talk about products that aren’t working for users. We have the courage to do that.
Our 2,300 brand database is only rivaled by Amazon, and they are not a content company.
It is not just another channel in a woman’s lifestyle or fashion site.
When consumers come to our properties, they have a beauty mindset. Our products are curated under the topics that are of concern to consumers. We have the highest rated beauty app available. Users who have an iPhone or Android device can easily look up brand ratings and reviews while at shelf.
BF: What do you believe has contributed to the success of Total Beauty Media Group and how are you planning to maintain that growth?
: We are in mobile and digital, and you will see us going into some more retail opportunities like HSN as well as print, broadcast and out-of-home retail.
Our Total Beauty Media Group team is passionate about the beauty consumer and satisfying our beauty brand partners. That is the key to what we have achieved so far. Our brand development staff focuses on three points: serving our clients, the performance of our ads and how to creatively help our advertisers.
We have hired people with beauty expertise, publishing and digital experience. Our Head of Marketing Ethelbert Williams, has worked for top beauty companies including P&G, Unilever and L’Oréal. Our Executive Vice President Brand Strategy & Development, Ann Marie MacDougall, spent more than 20 years on the magazine and product sides. Beth Mayall-Traglia, Editor in Chief, has an extensive background in women’s publications and digital media.
We look for Editors who can write, have experience in beauty and health and have connections to those industries, so they can call on experts to get the information needed to put together the content.
Our robust, secure content management system on the back end makes it easy for our Editors to update content and photos. We get that content distributed to all the right points through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). We have constructed our Web site so that all of our assets are distributed throughout the entire country, and the pages can be loaded very quickly.
We recently launched www.TotalBeautyShops.com, a commerce platform we have built that allows us to offer multiple collections, premium content and other services we are selling. That involves a lot of technology.
We are optimizing our Web site for a mobile experience. Our mobile traffic is up eight times over last year. Every month, we publish a Share of Audience Report, which is free and available to anyone at ToptalBeautMedia.com to review. It shows the top 300 brands on TotalBeauty.com. The Share of Audience Report confirms that a brand already advertising on our properties can achieve strong performance.
2013 promises to be yet another breakthrough year for Total Beauty Media Group. The digital media company continues to produce robust beauty content, create stunning video programming for leading beauty partners and has breakthrough brand/retail partnerships in place to further elevate ecommerce initiatives.