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Strength in Innovation

By: Anisa Telwar
Posted: March 22, 2013, from the April 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Most beauty companies talk about innovation, but being truly innovative requires stepping outside of the mold to develop something consumers have never seen before.
  • There is value in revamping already-existing products in innovative ways, but leading the pack means being distinctly different.
  • The A.G.I.L.E. innovation strategy—aspiration, gut, inspiration, listening and evolution—is a method to push boundaries to develop the truly unique.

It’s well known that beauty trends constantly shift and evolve. It is less well known that the push behind those shifts and evolutions is often largely due to the beauty industry innovators behind the scenes, the people crafting tools and products that create an easier, more consistent experience and application with any given beauty product. But how does this evolution occur—do trends drive innovation, or does innovation drive trends? In actuality, it’s a little bit of both.

At Anisa International, for example, high-end beauty clients depend on the company’s innovators to stay ahead of the trends, and to this end, Anisa International invests 20% of its revenue into R&D to create new products that, with consumer education, help drive new market needs. Anisa International also works to develop classic products to satisfy current trends, and this commitment to R&D stems from deep roots in creativity and design and a history of entrepreneurship, with innovation as a key pillar in staying fresh and relevant.

For beauty brands, a choice has to be made regarding new product creation. It would be easy to follow the herd by crowdsourcing design decisions or creating knock-off products of established brands. Or, if millions of dollars were at your disposal, having legions of scientists and engineers on hand to design and develop new products.

All of these practices are common in the beauty industry today, as beauty deals with businesses of various sizes. But as entrepreneurs with a lean team, small- and even medium-sized beauty businesses need to carefully select the innovation choices they make, as their time and money investments must lead to products with real impact.

Rethinking Innovation With A.G.I.L.E.

While beauty brands consistently love setting and being ahead of the trends, they also must look for ways to incorporate the most meaningful current trends into new products. This is the duality that must be balanced in the beauty industry—creating a classic product with staying power while remaining fresh.

When designing new products, traditional methods of innovation are often utilized—studying trending and historical data, collaborating with other companies, looking at fashion—along with leaning on intuition and years of industry experience. This informs beauty brand owners of what will work and what will not.

While Anisa International has often incorporated traditional innovation methods into its process, years of product development experience has led the company to pioneer its own methodology that employs creative thought and action to produce successful, revolutionary products. This process is called A.G.I.L.E.: Aspiration, Gut, Inspiration, Listening and Evolution.

Aspiration. Aspirational products go beyond being creative or clever; they require unleashing people’s passions. To develop something aspirational, you need to first deeply understand what those aspirations are—what you believe in, why you do what you do—because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Trends are fueled by aspiration, and the deepest and most lasting trends feed into one or more of the basic categories of human aspiration: financial, emotional, spiritual and physical.

Gut. Keeping ahead of the curve often requires the confidence to trust your instincts and run with your intuition.