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Where Does It Hurt?

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

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Getting back to basics and looking inside her medicine cabinet, purse and makeup bag are also important research areas for executives. Of research services purchased for their companies, 25% were brand tracking and consumer insight studies, and a full 26% of that research was used for new product visibility. What is her current routine? What are her attitudes toward beauty products in general and how do they earn a place in her daily regimen?

By leveraging what you know about your consumer’s beauty routine now against what you can give her in the future, you position your brand to fill a void that she may not yet even know exists. It’s no secret that consumers are trading both up and down these days when shopping. Brand name items are replacing certain expensive designer brands in order to allow consumers to continue to afford that Chanel compact or Gucci fragrance. Focusing on what she is using, and continues to afford in spite of the economy, will let you tailor your offering in a way that will both meet her needs, as well as allow for innovation.

The ‘It’ Hit

With more than 50% of respondents ranking new product concepts as their biggest strategy concern, it’s clear that merely having good ideas for your brand isn’t enough—product concepts need to communicate that unseeable, oh-so-sexy “it” factor and anticipate what consumers are going to want. But how does this translate in an economy where tried-and-true brands, once on the cutting-edge of trendy, are now gone? Even when brands take steps to find these answers—trend reports are the top research service purchased (36%)—answers aren’t always forthcoming. As Jeremy Gutsche, author of Exploiting Chaos: 150 Ways to Spark Innovation During Times of Change, notes, “The upbeat impact of crisis is that competitors become mediocre, and the ambitious find ways to grow.”

To illustrate, Neutrogena only just launched the SkinID brand in 2009, however; the line had already taken a large portion of the online acne business by October 2009—all during a time of recession. Neutrogena didn’t re-invent the wheel with this product (it is an acne line made with ingredients typically found in other acne products); instead, Neutrogena cleverly capitalized on how its consumer wants to and is shopping, and embraced a new “it”—an online only distribution model with a personalized twist.

Don’t re-invent the wheel; instead, give consumers the innovation they can’t live without.

A Wrinkle in Time