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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.

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Salvador: Snake oil aside, a product’s ingredients are of vital importance here. With the wealth of emerging technologies becoming available to us, state-of-the-art ingredients and delivery systems are becoming more and more sophisticated—plant stem cells, super peptides, exotic antioxidants and submicron encapsulation, just to name a few.

It’s interesting that these technologies often partner perfectly with “wholesome” ingredients; e.g., apple stem cells both protect and maintain the functions of human skin stem cells while contributing to their longevity. The result is significantly prolonged younger-acting, younger-looking skin.

All of these emerging gems are bringing our product capabilities to a new and higher level of performance, consequently providing the foundation and support for elevated deliverables and claims.

Harnessing the power and potential of these ingredient performers is critical to the evolution of each and every one of our beauty categories. These technologies are original, smart and innovative—attributes that are key drivers in our business.

At the same time, we must simply act responsibly. We must perform all of the necessary testing to support ingredient claims to ensure that they do exactly what they need to do in the final formulation. Finally, it is of utmost importance to put them in at respectable and functional levels—not just simply salt-and-pepper the technology.

Nancy: With these exciting, sexy new technologies now available to us, there is also no longer a need to stretch the truth. We just need to ensure that, in the frenzy of product creation and innovation, we are putting in the right ingredients at the right quantities, with a strong eye toward integrity.

Salvador and I have a shared a particularly strong point of view that innovation is the core driver of our business. We in the cosmetic industry are illusionists; it is our role to enchant our customers, to get them caught up in our magic. We can’t ever lose sight that ours is a business of fantasy. We, as a team, need to escalate our imagination quotient to create a real emotional experience for our customers. They certainly need it now more than ever.

Having said that, what we deliver in both the realm of the imagination and the truth in beauty need not be mutually exclusive approaches. One simply does not deny the other. We beauty mavens may be living in the land of make-believe, but we shouldn’t simply be playing with fairy dust.