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Trade Routes: Brand Management—Consistency Breeds Success

By: Michael Long and Chris Czajkowski
Posted: June 5, 2007, from the June 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

There are hundreds of new cosmetic launches each year in the prestige arena alone. In order to achieve long-term success, brands require consideration at all stages of development—including initial conception, launch and entering new markets. Brands at any point of development share a common necessity—the integration of five fundamental elements to deliver a consistent message. These elements of success—a business plan, a point of difference, appealing packaging, market positioning and retail execution—must be developed to be consistent with the overall strategy to maximize a brand’s potential. To avoid falling short on expectations, a brand must develop and execute all elements with the ultimate retailer and consumer in mind.

Business Plan

Assimilating a marketer’s perception of its brand’s point of difference and market positioning is the first step in creating a business plan. In addition, the inherent tolerance for risk and horizon for profitability must be understood. Armed with this information, identify, evaluate and quantify the elements of a successful cosmetics launch. These elements include an illustrative founder profile, a defined target market, an effective marketing strategy, evaluation of the aesthetic appeal of packaging, retail pricing and positioning, and establishing a point of difference.

A business plan also identifies a suitable distribution channel, projects associated sales and expenses, and quantifies the necessary supportive financial investment. It also guides management and serves as a presentation tool to secure investment capital. Ideally, the business plan should be prepared before any material investment or premature expenditure of critical financial resources.

Point of Difference

At its heart, a brand’s point of difference lies in its inherent benefits, ingredients, technology and innovation. The combination of these elements will tell a story that attracts target consumers—as well as fill a critical void on a retailer’s shelves. This point of difference needs to be well-communicated in order to be understood. It should not be overly complex or foreign; conversely, it should not be too simple or overused.

Louhann, an innovative skin care line from France, illustrates a brand that presents a clear point of difference. The brand’s story is based on argan oil, which is extracted by cold pression from the nuts of the Argania spinosa—an endemic tree located mainly in southwestern Morocco. This oil is harvested from strictly monitored cooperatives and is exported in its purest form in very limited quantities.