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Relevant and Compelling

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 7, 2011, from the June 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Competition, new and old, is often about a game of one-upmanship. So even brands well-loved, deeply established and proven efficacious need nurturing, and that includes reexamining and refreshing claims and how those claims are communicated.

“Brands have to refresh themselves and remain relevant,” says Young. “Everything is changing so fast; our attention spans are so short.” The pool of beauty consumers is fed by a stream—new consumers discovering brands beyond what their parents bought or what are available on local retail shelves. This stream of young consumers, perhaps most notably GenY, also have different purchasing and brand preference drivers, impacting how brands can build sales and connections through claims and product positioning.

“[GenY consumers] will reward brands that have principles and values that drive their products, innovation and, therefore, claim language,” says Grubow. “Bigger, better, faster will not be meaningful. How are you achieving your efficacy? What do you not put in your product (perfume, parabens, pthalates)? How do consumers believe that you are authentic and what type of relationship will you have with them? Honesty, transparency and the tone of the brand will be key criteria for consumers to believe.”

“Often management of established brands is not willing to take the risk to do a [brand] face lift,” adds Young. “But without it, the brand—regardless of its market share—will become stale and irrelevant. Kids don’t want to use or buy their parent’s brands. That’s just human nature.”

Today, too, it’s not simply new consumers who require the rethinking of claims and methods of connection. Established consumer targets have changed. As noted in Private Label Groomed to Take on Personal Care Brands, an August 2010 Datamonitor survey noted that 44% of Americans agree they are spending more on private label products than they were a year ago. There is a clear change of perception regarding private label, and though initially motivated by a desire to save money, many consumers found comparable quality in private label. Brands are working harder to differentiate their products, and it’s even more important to find emotional connections to which consumers will respond. For luxury brands, many mass launches in the past few years offer much of the functionality once only seen in higher-cost products.