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Strength in Innovation

By: Anisa Telwar
Posted: March 22, 2013, from the April 2013 issue of GCI Magazine.

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So many notions of what is “right” in the beauty industry are merely self-imposed limitations. For example, product developers may believe consumers won’t understand why a product is necessary or fear an innovative product will never be funded, improved or implemented, and these self-imposed limitations can hinder innovation.

Inspiration. You inspire by doing, and if you do the impossible, you show others how they can. In 1954, Englishman Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes. At the time, medical experts cautioned that it was impossible to break a sub-four minute mile, but within nine months of Bannister’s achievement, 30 other runners reached the same milestone.

Inspiring customers is about giving them the courage to achieve what they thought was unachieveable. This inspiration must come from actual consumers and their lifestyle and beauty needs—from the busy businesswoman who requires a quick makeup application to the world-renowned makeup artist who requires precision from a set of beauty tools.

And although necessary, inspiration alone is not sufficient. In the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, Jim Collins introduces the hedgehog concept of business, which requires having a simple, extremely clear concept of what a business is and does. That business should be something an entrepreneur can make money at, be the best in the world at, and be passionate about. Inspiration must be fused with this hedgehog concept of business in order to be a successful part of your brand’s DNA.

Listening. Humans listen at a 25% comprehension rate, which means that every day we miss approximately three-quarters of information told to us. This is an inherent weakness that needs to be overcome by organizations to properly respect customers and fully understand their needs.

In Good to Great, Collins discusses the concept of the flywheel. The flywheel refers to the idea of momentum: Keep pushing in one direction and you’ll build up a lot of it, which will help you overcome obstacles. Momentum is built a little at a time; it’s not dramatic revolutionary change but constant diligent work. You need to listen and have continual feedback in order to create and build that momentum.

Evolution. The beauty industry itself is in a period of unparalleled change in how we create, communicate and consume. Products and services are evolving faster than ever before.

Good companies use technology to execute processes better, but in itself, technology won’t save a mediocre business. It is an accelerator, not an agent of change. To forge innovation, you should be willing to adapt a design or product while making sure the key benefit remains the same.

Case Study: Leading a Trend

Anisa International utilized its A.G.I.L.E. method in its partnership with DuPont, which aimed to bring a new synthetic makeup brush fiber to market.

Currently, natural fiber comprises the vast majority of powder brushes due to superior product pick up and release properties. However, several issues arise with natural hair, including sourcing and quality control. This makes synthetic fiber a more desirable product for brush manufacturers.