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From Fiction to Fact—Ideas Build Beauty Business
By: Abby Penning
Posted: August 31, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
Votre Vu’s top-seller is its beauty drink Snapdragon—which includes collagen, vitamins, aloe vera, ginkgo biloba, and green, white and red teas among its ingredients.
page 2 of 4Taking into account that a majority of the most successful direct-selling companies were from the beauty industry, Zimmerman created a team to begin to research the industry, and it settled on skin care products. “Taking care of your body and your skin is somewhat timeless,” he explains of the choice, and from there, they started to build. Ann Brodette, the company’s vice president of sales development, was one of the earliest additions to the Votre Vu team. Formerly a direct-seller herself, Brodette brought her perspective as a selling representative to the development of the company, and the team continued to fill in with two corporate field directors, a communications and customer care team, a product development and marketing expert, and a director of sales support. After an extensive product-testing hunt, the company settled on working with a French laboratory to fulfill its product needs, and launching in September 2008, it began to accrue representatives—or, as Votre Vu calls them, brand ambassadors.
Fun Atmosphere, White-glove Service
In addition to the unique technological concepts Votre Vu embraced, including the regular use of e-vites and a personalized website that is e-commerce-enabled for each brand ambassador, the company has incorporated the ideas of fun and white-glove customer care into its business model. “We don’t want to be like the people behind the [prestige retail] counter in their white lab coats who you’re afraid to go up and talk to,” explains Zimmerman. “We want to be very accessible. It’s high-quality products in a fun atmosphere.”
The interaction with its brand ambassadors and its customers is paramount for Votre Vu. It counts on its now more than 2,000 ambassadors in all 50 U.S. states to educate its customers about the importance of regular skin care and why these products provide it, and it supplements those efforts with customer-friendly policies, such as its 45-day no-hassle return policy. “You can use up all the product and if after 45 days you don’t like it, you can just send us the tube and you’ll get your money back,” Brodette says. “But very little come back.”
And that friendly customer service extends to all interactions between consumers and the company. “We wanted the company to be just absolutely fun, sexy, chic—something that people want to be a part of,” states Zimmerman, and to that effect, the company had integrated “infotainment” in as a major component of its business. The company website features videos where Brodette and Zimmerman offer brand and product information along with humorous vignettes, and Votre Vu also promotes its product with something of a Votre Vu tour, towing a sleek throwback Airstream trailer around the country.
The brand also features unique products, such as a frozen eye gelée that comes encased in dry ice and a combo hand cream-lip balm in which the lip balm is in the cap of the hand cream. Zimmerman says, “We wanted to give people the quality skin care [the brand’s core products feature cleansers, toners, serums and creams for four different skin types—normal to dry, sensitive, mature and troubled—as well as a host of specialty supplement products] but also things they don’t see every day.” The company also features a duo of beauty drinks—Snapdragon and Ten Gauge, an energy booster, with the Snapdragon being the company’s current best-seller.