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Innovative Ways to Promote Your Products in a Tight Economy

Donna C. Barson

The list of things the economic downturn has impacted seems infinite, and beauty and wellness products are not immune. As consumers trade-in pampering and luxury products for practical priorities, marketers are feeling the pinch. But perhaps this is an opportunity to reach a new consumer base and reinforce existing customers. How do you encourage consumers to purchase beyond basic products when they face layoffs and dwindling savings accounts? Get creative!

Compile kits. Offer kits of varietal but smaller-sized products. For example, for the price of a normal-sized shampoo, offer customers the complete regimen—including conditioner and complementing styling products. The amount of product may not last as long, but consumers get all the items they need—the idea being, they will be so thrilled with the products’ performance that they will buy the full-sized versions of everything.

Offer samples. The downturn is all about downsizing, and beauty products are following suit. By providing samples, brand owners can reach new audiences with a travel-sized perk. Sample sizes take the pressure off investing in untried high-end products when the results remain unproven. Miniature sizes, at either lower price points or free, offer customers a taste of quality merchandise that they won’t feel guilty about putting aside if the results are not as expected.

Provide face time. Speaking of samples, nothing goes better with an in-store promotion than freebies—and everybody likes something on the house, especially now. Brand owners are doling out samples at in-store and in-spa promotions to reinforce their brands and attract new customers.

Give a deal. Whether you present a discount or add in a free sample of another product with an existing one, this tactic goes a long way toward improving sales. People love a special offer, and even those who have never been coupon-clippers may very well change their tune if the offer is enticing.

Embrace social media. If Martha Stewart can use 140-character tweets—status messages via—about knitting to engage the masses, why can’t beauty brand owners do the same regarding their products? Many companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon because that’s where an increasing number of consumers can be reached. By setting up profiles on Facebook and Twitter, you can reach a broad audience with last-minute deals and other promotions.

Leverage the Web. While you’re providing products online, take advantage of each visitor to your Web site by encouraging customers and prospects to sign up for an e-mail newsletter, with the promise of special, time-sensitive deals and useful content on a regular basis. This is the sort of personal touch that will go a long way toward building your business and keeping it thriving in any economic climate. Take it a step further and start a blog that you can keep updated with information on new products and uses.

Go green. While organic and other earth-friendly products may not be less costly than regular lines, consumers cannot seem to get enough of all things green. And even though these items may not promise to save them green, many people derive a sense of accomplishment when doing their part to preserve the earth. Providing recyclable bottles and products with sustainably harvested ingredients can spur sales, as eco-friendly product continue to be a growing trend.

Forge partnerships. Instead of offering merchandise exclusively via your own Web site or counters, team up with industry related Web sites and blogs to promote your goods. This helps expose your products to an audience you may not have yet reached, and also capitalizes on the growing preponderance of Internet shopping.

Stay alert. What is one of the most effective ways to stay competitive in any economic climate? Keep track of your competitors. Some are trying to penetrate drug store chains while others are using nontraditional means of promotion. Stay on top of industry trends that could affect sales and tailor your promotions toward consumer and competitor patterns.

Even though times are tough, your customers will stay true to your brand as long as you evolve with them. Ensure that your products are accessible and are meeting consumers’ continuing needs and your base of consumers will, as will hopefully the economy, grow.

Donna C. Barson, MBA, heads Barson Marketing, Inc., a marketing strategy, research and business consultancy in the personal care industry. For information about Barson Marketing and its proprietary tracking method for this industry, e-mail, or call 732-446-3662.

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