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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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For as much market information as a beauty company can gather, if it’s not the right type of information, it’s unlikely to be helpful. “Context is important, as teams have to appreciate how consumer changes will affect their brands, leaving some room for instinct,” explains Henderson. “Sometimes it is wise to listen to new people in the team, as fresh perspectives can revive creativity. Because it is the passion behind the brand, combined with focus and commitment to continually challenge the relevance of the promise, that makes or breaks a brand. Standing still is a dangerous strategy.”

“While market intelligence should be considered when making decisions, one challenge brands face is the risk of responding before evaluating the data they’ve gathered,” Rayborn comments. “For instance, consider Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare—three proven, cost-effective platforms for engaging with consumers. While they’re proven, each platform provides a unique way to connect; engaging consumers on Foursquare is completely different from engaging them on Facebook. Failure to acknowledge and evaluate these differences can be harmful to brands.”

In order to get the best and most helpful use out of market intelligence, it is vital to fully consider where and how the information will be applied and used. “For this example, a brand would have to determine whether its consumer is on these new social media platforms regardless of the platform’s popularity,” Rayborn continues about social networking. “You may find that while a new social network is wildly popular, your consumer isn’t present on it, and any allocation of your resources on this effort would yield no value. Many resources can be exhausted if a company dives into action based on consumer intelligence without thorough analysis of the data it collects” For this reason, Rayborn notes that beauty brands shouldn’t make decisions based only on consumer market intelligence, and Henderson agrees, noting the need for additional considerations and support. “Advertising and marketing support is key to any beauty brand’s success, along with a focused retail strategy,” she comments.

Rayborn also goes on to say, “All data isn’t necessarily valuable data, and with so much of it available, brands must always focus on their bottom lines to make sure the data collected and any resulting actions are aligned with their business goals.” In fact, wasting resources on unachievable or illogical goals is something good research should point away from. “Consumer intelligence must be tempered with a clear set of goals to maintain brand integrity. If new data is gathered that doesn’t align with your business goals, you may not need to act on it,” Rayborn concludes.

Keeping the Momentum

As any beauty industry professional can attest, beauty consumers are constantly changing, leading to the need for brand owners to be constantly assessing and gathering market intelligence. “The world of beauty is international, with brands being challenged every day,” says Henderson. “Therefore, regular monitoring of launches is key. No one can afford to take an eye off the ball.” Rayborn agrees, saying, “Brands should always gather intelligence data. It’s not something you can turn on or off. Gathering intelligence is about constantly monitoring the beauty landscape to ensure that as soon as there’s a subtle change, you detect it early enough to evaluate it and consider how to use the information to your brand’s advantage.”