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Burning, Burning...

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: August 26, 2014, from the September 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

Cosmoprof North America (CPNA) has become part of my summer experience, and I vividly recall my first CPNA in 2006—it was also my first time in Las Vegas. Exiting the airport to queue for a taxi, a breeze came down off the mountains and the effect just didn’t compute. It was an honest to goodness breeze, but all it blew was heat. I’m used to a breeze being a welcome occurrence in July. This one blew 106 degrees of a dry, “don’t forget the desert will kill you” reminder. A giant oven door had opened. I don’t ever before recall feeling my eyeballs change shape, or whatever happened to them (all I know, it was a bit freaky), and I thought, “What is this?”

My tear ducts have since recovered and I’ve learned to prepare for the heat, and the show also has evolved quite a bit over these eight years, adding creative and impactful ways to showcase brands and build brand-retail buyer conversations. This year, CPNA launched its first-ever Interactive Experience Area, providing the opportunity for attendees to immerse themselves in trend and concept experiences. Hosted by Pearlfisher (www.pearlfisher.com), visitors walked inside a container (think elegant semi trailer on the show floor) for the “experience” section, where changes in macro culture and how those changes shape the future of beauty and consumerism were highlighted. The “interactive” section was a digital playground hosted by The New Agency featuring blue-sky concepts and experts who taught visitors how to build desire, brand impact and foster consumer engagement. Brand owners and marketers had the opportunity to use various analysis tools to evaluate the state of their online and social media presence, as well as gain insights into how to turn their customers into brand ambassadors.

And gaining brand ambassadors can be the difference between success and wild success. In their overview of the rising popularity of Glamglow (in The Glamorous Side of Mud), Denise Herich and Jennifer Stansbury write that 91% of women state consumer claims—and specifically those claims garnered through product testing—influence their purchasing decisions. Also, in a Nielsen study cited in Word-of-mouth Marketing Will Change Your Business, 78% of consumers said they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from other consumers compared to 26% who trust an online ad. Written in 2009 (when Twitter and Facebook were relatively young social media outlets), the authors of the “Word-of-mouth Marketing” article noted that influencers rely on the Internet as a critical resource in helping to inform decisions.

The power of consumer recommendations grows exponentially online, and what an opportunity to turn those into online sales. In Tuning Strategy to an Evolving Landscape, Euromonitor International’s Rob Walker shares that Internet sales of beauty and personal care totaled $22 billion in 2013. Online platforms are, by a significant margin, the fastest-growing beauty distribution channel, with sales growing at an average rate of 18% a year since 2009.

So what’s it all come down to? Look at new ways to engage, engage at the right place and time, and be prepared to capitalize on that engagement. (By the way, a Seals and Crofts album and song title would have been the easy choice for the title of this column, but I do have certain standards...)