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The Hit List

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: May 4, 2011, from the May 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

Launching a beauty business, let alone a successful one, is a delicate dance of elements: market research, product development and, let’s not forget, good old-fashioned ingenuity. In fact, launching a beauty business requires keeping so many plates up in the air, it’s easy for new brands entering this ring to become overwhelmed with the details before they’ve even hit the product development stage. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

The Benchmarking Company (TBC) has worked with large and small brands, established brands and newbies, and has clearly established that, regardless of the stage of development of your company or product, for the best chance of success in the market, a game plan and a blueprint needs to be in place before too many plates are up in the air. These established plans will guide all the developmental aspects of a new business and new brand. Although the following five steps are not all the steps that must be taken, they are key building blocks that will help you kick-off your new venture with a solid foundation so you can hit the ground running.

Step #1: Have an Idea, But Not Just Any Idea

In order for your beauty business to succeed, you have to have a truly unique and different idea on which to lay the foundation of your entire operation. Have a new beauty business idea, but not just any idea. Are you fascinated with runway looks and want to bring them to women everywhere? Well, you’d better have a bigger idea than that because too many established brands already own that space. Let your ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit help guide this step: What’s new, unique or passionate about your plan? Why will women, and maybe even men, everywhere love and have to have it? Why should a consumer pay attention to your idea in-market? Why might she not pay attention? Take time and flesh out this idea, and perhaps even consider vetting it out with a consumer test or study before you start writing checks to the development houses and PR firms, and you will be way ahead of the pack.

Step #2: Know Your Audience/Know Your Market

Before you can even think about launching a new beauty business, you have to first know the marketplace inside and out. Who are the leaders? Who’s entering the arena and who’s leaving? What products do consumer publication beauty editors love—and, more importantly, what products are consumers buying and what keeps them clamoring for more?

Nearly as important as having a great idea, have a thorough understanding of the competitive market where your new beauty business will ultimately be living and breathing. What are the leaders in your category saying and doing? What’s the latest innovation or hot new ingredient? How are brands interacting with their consumers online? What claims and results is your competition promising and can you match or exceed them?