Conditional MCO: Malaysian beauty industry a lot savvier this time around


In light of the conditional MCO, beauty companies are taking the hit again but lessons learnt from the first lockdown are directing them towards stronger customer engagement and an emphasis on e-commerce. -- Photo: 123rf.com

With the announcement of the conditional movement control order, beauty brands - which have not been spared during this pandemic - are already reeling from the effects of restrictions again.

But, mostly they are better prepared in their response this time round, having learnt from the first lockdown.

Law Hong Mei - founder of Malaysian natural skincare brand The Olive Tree - who has a store in 1 Utama Shopping Centre says, “Last week was such a havoc when the news of a tenant’s staff getting Covid-19 broke and the mall being shut down over the weekend. With the spike in cases, the conditional MCO is the right move.”

Learning hard lessons from the first lockdown, Law says they have already split their staff into two teams, and explains, “First team works from the office while the second team works from my home. These two teams do not interact with each other. If one store is closed, we have a backup team to cover.”

“Now, we have to move full-force onto e-commerce. In the past months, we experienced four times more than our usual sales through online. However, this round we are worried if we can duplicate these sales.”

“Instead of a November launch for our Christmas collection, we are now launching it earlier this month but we are working on ways to ensure stocks can arrive earlier, ” Law says.

“The conditional MCO is something that I expected so it’s really not a shock, and it is the right decision, ” says Ken Lim, founder of Kens Apothecary.

“We are concerned about new SOP guidelines and how we can manage our operations and staffing. We just found out that we are allowed to close our store early at the mall. It’s just more troublesome, ” says Lim, whose brands include Caudalie, Diptyque, Goutal, among others.

He has sent some of his staff for medical testing and he has also told his staff, who had contact with the people affected or have been to those stores, to quarantine themselves.

“I think it was a little too early to open up some sectors and more consideration should be given before relaxing the rules for any type of large gatherings especially, ” Lim says.

With the implementation of the conditional MCO, beauty brands are going full-force in engaging with their customers via e-commerce channels. -- Photo: 123rf.comWith the implementation of the conditional MCO, beauty brands are going full-force in engaging with their customers via e-commerce channels. -- Photo: 123rf.com

The new normal in the beauty industry

“The beauty industry is one of a very few that has weathered and rebounded through many different crises across the decades. The post-Covid world is the NOW normal but we strongly believe that grooming, skincare and beauty will remain fundamental for everyone, ” says Malek Bekdache, country manager of L’Oreal Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

“Faced with the exceptional circumstances of a global health crisis, our biggest priority has been the health, safety and protection of our employees at L’Oréal Malaysia.”

“Two weeks ago, we have had all our employees moved to rotational teams A and B. Even before the conditional MCO was announced, and taking into consideration school closures in the Petaling area where our office is located, we made the unprecedented decision to have 100% of our Head Office colleagues to work from home."

“Making absolutely no compromises on health and safety, we have intensified sanitisation efforts and enforced strict SOPs in our stores. Our commitment is and will always be, more than ever, to look after the well-being of our consumers and employees."

Malek says they have now transformed their connection with consumers through virtual engagements, constantly challenging themselves to bring the brand engagement directly into the homes of their consumers via e-commerce channels.

On the conditional MCO, Yip Wei Yin, chief operating officer of Cheerful Marketing Sdn Bhd, says he agrees with the Health director-general that we have to balance lives and livelihood.

“It is a necessary measure to save lives, avoid overcapacity in hospitals and avoid more severe impact to our lives and economy, ” says Yip, whose brands include Swiss line, Skin Regimen, Comfort Zone, among others.

“Our challenge is when our partner beauty salons cannot operate but we have adjusted our business strategies to the new normal, and become more creative in our market outreach.”

“We are listening to feedback from our customers and are grateful that the demand for our brands is keeping up. Customers are still purchasing skincare for home use and we have been running promotions which we have not done before.”

From the last lockdown, Yip says they have learnt to be flexible in terms of adjusting their working conditions and approaches to maximise work productivity amidst the restrictions.

“Overcoming this is a concerted effort, everyone is affected. If everyone adheres and is mindful of not spreading the virus, we can all come out of this sooner, ” he says.

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