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Beekman 1802's Bet on Livestream Beauty

January 10, 2022
January 10, 2022
Beekman 1802

“We’re going to help you with your skin. We’re going to help you figure it out,” smiles an assuring middle-aged woman wearing a ribbon as a belt in front of festive decorations, leaning against a farmhouse-style counter. Welcome to the Beekman 1802 Blooming Skin Show, whose holiday finale is livestreaming from rural upstate New York. Livestreaming’s a funny thing stateside, especially outside of the context of gaming. Beekman 1802’s role as one of the most productive beauty brands across QVC and HSN is worth examining. The traditional approach of on-air selling has far surpassed Beekman 1802’s presence at Ulta Beauty or even DTC. Beekman 1802 took to QVC/HSN to achieve $2,000 in sales per minute on-air live shows with sales conversion of 35-50%, according to Livescale.

If that seems like a lot, it is. In fact, it’s more than 5x the average of other brands embracing live shopping in the US. $1 million in sales over the course of nine months for 13 one-hour shows is proof. And if QVC feels like a throwback, it is. New apps like Supergreat and Newness are carving out space for brands to experiment with livestreaming. But Beekman 1802 has found an old-fashioned niche in the loyal viewership of QVC, despite the world of paid ads and celebrity collaborations. And boy, is it a charming niche.

The live show features so many deals—percentages off, BOGOs, never-before-seen gift sets—it’s understandable if the host confuses a few of the offerings on air. Deals turn into games that guests at the live show are invited to participate in, where the prices of product sets are guessed in The Price is Right fashion. It’s kitschy, especially compared to the ring light–lit influencer du jour, but it’s sincere. In the influencer economy, sincerity is a sight for sore eyes.

Imagine this: rolling acres, 100 goats, and “one act of kindness.” That’s how Beekman 1802’s CMO Brad Farrell paints the brand’s origin story of over 14 years ago. Even their presence on livestream has a coziness to it, thanks to the real-life brand employees moonlighting as salespeople on air. Founders Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge even make an appearance in the holiday finale. Farrell remarks that customers are called “neighbors” at Beekman 1802, and that “kindness is considered a psychographic.” Turns out, their kindness first approach has reaped the benefits of organic growth. As of mid-December 202, Beekman 1802 sold its majority stake for $92 million to Cohesive Capital Partners and the Cherng Family Trust. Beekman 1802’s slow and steady growth has paid off.

Located in Sharon Springs, NY, Beekman 1802 has something its competitors could never dream of calling their own: over a decade of hand selling products in a destination retail space. If livestreaming has a vintage flair to it, then brick-and-mortar retail, save select blocks in NYC’s SoHo, definitely does. Even the cleverest campaigns or the most organic placements can’t compete with a profound IRL experience. Beekman 1802’s physical presence in upstate New York, painted in the chalky black and cottony white made popular by Fixer Upper, is a key component to their livestreaming success.

Referred to as a “flagship Mercantile,” shopping is only part of the slice of lifestyle offered by the brand. Farrell shares, “Every spring and summer, we host baby goat tours on the farm. Visitors arrive at the farm and get to meet, snuggle and play with the baby goats, and ask Farmer John questions about raising goats.” Weather permitting, visitors are offered tours of the farm’s grounds, including wooded property, a mansion, and a large vegetable garden.

Inside the Mercantile, every Beekman 1802 product imaginable is for sale thanks to the help of a cheerful, brand-educated sales associate. Since its opening in 2009, the intention of the space has been to “give other local artisans a place to display and sell their own creations, in addition to selling our own products,” explains Farrell. He cites that the first bar of goat milk sold was a collaboration between Brent, Josh, and a local heritage soap maker, whose soap is still sold in the store to this day. Cut to present day, and the Mercantile offers a coffee bar, the same smiling assistance, and a curation of handcrafted goods from the community, including granola, glassware, and ceramics.

All this adds up to a whopping sense of place baked into the brand. At Beekman 1802, you’re proverbially away for the weekend, stumbling upon hidden gems like a farmhouse that happens to sell soap made from goat milk. In fact, the ingredient plays an integral role in the brand’s hero product and the livestream’s namesake—Bloom Cream Probiotic Daily Moisturizer. The moisturizer is built for “the 60-70% of people who have sensitive skin, and contains goat milk, a historic remedy for sensitive skin and the first-ever ingredient to be certified as microbiome-friendly,” shares Farrell. According to the site, 88% of reviewers would recommend the product to a friend. The key to the sell, it seems, is educating potential purchasers on the power of goat milk. In person, with a cappuccino in one hand, and a bottle of their sleek cream in the other, Beekman 1802 comes alive. On Instagram or Facebook directly, it might come across as preach-y, or simply be lost in the noise.

When it comes to education, there’s something about the person-to-person intensity of livesteaming that creates an immediate sense of authority and comfort. Farrell reports that many users watch the show in hopes of learning more about “products that are not only clean, but safe for their sensitive skin,” or in Beekman 1802 speak, “clinically kind skincare.” Hosts can riff on personal anecdotes, quote studies, or shock the audience with an all-of-a-sudden slash in price. Education is important, but so are themes, unique sales, exclusive deals, special gifts, and limited-edition products, all of which are guaranteed in each installment of the Beekman 1802 Blooming Skin Show. Post-premiere, the show is distributed long-form to email subscribers and on Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube. It maintains its “neighborly” integrity while being distributed to the brand’s modest following on each platform.

“We had a hypothesis that if we leveraged our unique brand story, and pushed even further around entertainment and education in an authentic way, the combination would result in a successful show,” says Farrell. The upstate skincare brand leveraged the pandemic’s nudge toward livestreaming to great success. In order to maintain Beekman 1802’s ethos of “kindness to self, kindness to planet, and kindness to community,” the brand took the time to find just where their community might be. Turns out, they were right on the other side of the livestream.

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