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Best Brand Decisions—Consumer Defined

By: Abby Penning
Posted: March 7, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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And that intelligence is becoming more and more available. Henderson comments that Mintel has seen substantial growth in the past two years in terms of beauty consumer research and the market’s reach, saying, “There are so many people helping beauty brands now—all the ingredient companies, all the distribution companies, all the contract manufacturers—each industry segment has experts available that can help expedite the process and offer more options for creating a successful brand. At Mintel, we always look at the full picture—markets, consumers and innovation.”

Doing in-depth consumer market intelligence is really one of the best ways to get to know a consumer, and relying on past information or generalizations typically won’t cut it. “Our team of beauty experts is always looking at the consumers, future behavioral trends and their reaction to emerging micro and macro trends,” says Henderson, and Rayborn explains how the changing and evolving culture is intimately entwined in consumer intelligence. “The face of the consumer is changing into something no one has ever seen,” she says. “For instance, Gen Y consumers are very different consumers from other generations like Gen X or boomers, and brands must look closely at this new consumer to understand what drives their purchases in order to create products and experiences that meet their unique needs. This can only happen by analyzing rich consumer intelligence. For brands whose goal is to be the first to capitalize on consumer trends, there’s no way to gauge these subtle characteristics and plan your marketing strategy without consumer intelligence.”

Getting Useful Information

Gathering true quality market intelligence can be tricky, however, especially if people know they are being observed on their habits.

Henderson notes that Mintel’s intelligence-gathering process surveys current assets and begins with elements it trusts as a starting point. “Review what is available from a reputable source that has the correct data and expertise to base predictions on,” she says, and goes on to note it is important for beauty brands to incorporate their own knowledge into this intelligence in order to make the information relevant. “The beauty business has always preferred a combined approach where a team of experts makes sense of credible and relevant sources, rather than provides more noise,” Henderson explains. “For example, we provide future market sizes and combine them with insights drawn from more than 48,000 beauty products every year—with a focus on the concept developments from both niche and multinational players. Tailored research always helps if the brand wants to explore a unique proposition, which may give it the next advantage in the marketplace.”

And in addition to industry reports, publications and events, Rayborn comments that today’s social media-centric culture can provide valuable information in and of itself, saying “good, old-fashioned listening” can be a brand’s best intelligence asset. “Fortunately, the fact that we live in what I call the era of overshare, where consumers provide tons of information freely via social networks, means that there’s no shortage of consumer intelligence—you just have to ask the right questions,” she says.

Using Market Intelligence Effectively