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Marketing and R&D Magic: Fostering Our Vital Relationship with Consumers

By: Nancy McDonald and Salvador Pliego
Posted: April 7, 2009, from the April 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

R-e-c-e-s-s-i-o-n. There—we’ve said it and we’re not going to say it again. By now you’re all sick to death of the “R” word, and are still stinging from the sad reality that the cosmetics industry is no longer immune to its fury.

In the foreseeable future, the current debacle will doubtless leave its mark on all of us in the beauty category. Being undaunted folk, however, it’s inevitable that we will rise from the ashes and get back into the dynamic spirit of our beauty business.

Before that, let’s ask ourselves: what lessons have we learned from this “day of reckoning?” How do we turn lemons into lemonade here? How does it translate into our future behavior? How do we better approach innovation?

In short, just how do we get it done … better? Let’s start with how we could better relate to our partner, the customer.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time that we re-evaluate and restore this vital relationship. Salvador: You may remember from our inaugural column (December 2008) that we were pretty fired up that the beauty business has, to a very sad degree, lost touch with both its customers and its magic. In this column, we want to also address the potential of our losing touch with the truth—a key bonding point with consumers.

Looking carefully, how have consumers’ attitudes, needs and wants changed, given the Wall Street debacle and its resultant economic downturn? What exactly are they expecting—or rather demanding—from those with whom they do business? What is now pushing their buttons, both the good and the bad?

Responsibility, sincerity and integrity are in; self-indulgence, duplicity and hype are out.

Nancy: For all of us in cosmetics, we need to pay serious attention here. The consumer’s mood is clear.