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Lipstick Factor: Marketing Strategies for a Downturn

By: Imogen Matthews
Posted: May 4, 2010, from the May 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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But don’t retailers stick to the bigger, more reliable brands when the economy is shaky? “Retailers may see niche as more of a risk, but there is a genuine need to have something new and interesting.” Mama Mio’s distribution in the U.S. and U.K. is also diverse—including spas, department stores such as Fred Segal and Harvey Nichols, and hotels —notably Ritz Carlton, Claridges and Browns.

U.K. department store Debenhams is a new outlet for Mama Mio, and Sutherland recognized that she needed to do something different to stand out. “The cost of supporting a brand in department stores is substantial, so we put in one SKU in a way that shouts.” The display for the brand’s skin care for breasts consists of two oversize breasts encased in a bra with “Boob Tubes” nestling in the cleavage. “For a niche brand to survive, you have to celebrate that you are niche and not play by the rules,” says Sutherland. However, her most important advice for niche brands is: “You need to have a strong point of difference and communicate it simply and clearly. For the savvy consumer, marketing spin is paper thin.”

Imogen Matthews is a consultant to In-cosmetics. For more information, contact