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Where Does It Hurt?

By: Alisa Marie Beyer
Posted: January 5, 2010, from the January 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

With reports that the value of the beauty market sank in 2009, it’s no surprise that industry executives are casting their eyes to the future. Deciding how to grow a company in a changing economy involves creative thinking, strategic planning and a little bit of moxie to come out on top when the dust settles. What worked a year or two ago to get her into your store or using your brand isn’t necessarily going to compel today’s consumer, as the sad demise of both Prescriptives and Max Factor illustrates. And although consumers continue to spend a bit more money on personal care items in general, they have scaled back on spending, period. Accordingly, beauty brands need to adapt and implement strategic campaigns that reach across ever broader platforms.

Like you, The Benchmarking Company wanted to know how these changes are affecting the industry, so it asked more than 130 beauty executives—founders, CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, marketing directors and managers—to take a survey and share their thoughts on their biggest research, strategy and branding concerns. Every sector of the industry is represented. Top 20 brands, prestige, mass, home shopping, infomercial, and small entrepreneurial indie brands all chimed in: Estée Lauder, SkinCeuticals, Johnson & Johnson, April Rain, Chanel, Alchimie Forever, Besame Cosmetics, Mary Kay, Remede, Fusion Labs, Yes to Carrots, Guthy-Renker, L’Oréal, Avon, Matrix, Three Custom Color, Coty, Joico, Molton Brown and dozens of others provided input on the biggest business and branding concerns in the beauty biz. All responses were anonymous and confidential.

So, what did they have to say? The survey revealed that no matter what brand the executives worked for or what channel they worked in, concerns were consistent across the board. What’s the next big idea? How can social networking be leveraged to grow market share? And how can their brands gain her loyalty and trust? Beauty executives are always saying they want to reach “nirvana” with their brand: that untapped distribution channel or that one amazing product that would put them closer to solving all their business concerns, but the survey clearly revealed that regardless of how it might appear, there is no nirvana. Every channel struggles with the same questions, every brand faces the same concerns and the industry as a whole is on the same page about how to meet the future of beauty.

Just the Facts

Knowing why consumers rejected certain retail channels was the number one research concern for all executives; more than 67% listed it as their primary focus. With such abundant retail channels available to consumers today, it is critical for executives and companies to know what didn’t work in order to understand how they can capture this missed opportunity, how to keep what is currently working for them working and to retain current consumer loyalty. Fifty-four percent of executives listed “knowing more about how frequently she is purchasing their brand” as one of their top 10 most important research concerns, which directly links to why she may have rejected a certain channel.

An in-depth analysis of what went wrong and what wasn’t embraced by your consumer is the necessary first-step toward finding the missing link and creating a multichannel platform that will be successful.

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