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When the crisis began, Trinny Woodall assumed sales would fall at Trinny London, her premium make-up brand, as many retailers were pulling down the shutters. Instead, the company enjoyed a significant rise with many customers moving online.

“Without revealing the numbers, we can say that May was our best month on record so far. We put this down to new customer bases who, with retail shut, have been encouraged to try our Trinny London product. They are the type of customer who have heard of us and considered us but never purchased with us to-date. COVID-19 and resulting lack of traditional retail created an opportunity which we could take advantage of because we were open for business and had plenty of stock,” said Woodall. 

Woodall, a television presenter and fashion and makeover expert, only launched Trinny London last October. However, the brand has grown strongly and is now shipping to 62 countries worldwide. Some 65 per cent of its sales are in Britain but it has also carved out sizable markets in Australia and the US. 

The firm’s products are sold via retail with a partnership with Fenwicks Department Store and direct through its website. Woodall’s profile has helped the business, as she has a massive social media following of over 760,000 followers on Instagram. 

“With retail closed as per the national lockdown the marketplace rushed online, with some varying degrees of success,” she said. 

“Make-up is a personal product and therefore requires some level of expert selling unless you have been using the same products for years. When replacing a product, women tend to seek friends or expert advice.” 

While initially expecting a downturn, Woodall experienced a bounce. “We have heard from our customers that looking and feeling good and treating themselves has been an important part of them dealing with lockdown. The fact the make-up packaging is small and discreet is also good for customers with parcels arriving at their homes,” she said. 

“It’s called ‘the lipstick effect’. When the economy is in crisis, people still want to buy less costly luxury goods instead of expensive ones ie smaller treats like make-up or barista coffee.”

With retail closed as per the national lockdown the marketplace rushed online, with some varying degrees of success.

The response

Trinny London was quick to respond to the lack of retail, with the development of their product. With no personal selling available, Trinny London adapted to an online free consultation, so potential customers could talk to an expert before purchasing. After a month of trialing this service for free, they changed to charge £25 per consultation to be redeemed against the product. This was a game-changer in terms of show-ups and purchasing. 

“A young team working from home, which we focused on as we wanted to make sure they were ok, so lots of communication was initiated. As a result, we ended up with too many meetings as a result of lockdown, so we then introduced a no meeting Thursday and an every Friday company meeting,” she says. 

“The two areas of challenge for us have been new product development with our team in Italy and photography to showcase our product.” 

The impact

May was the best month on record so far and, as a result, the business has been hiring new people. “The team have been motivated and yes we’re a start-up anyway, but we feel even more like one right now,”’ Woodall said.