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Paths to Purchase

By: Sara Mason
Posted: June 22, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The brand is also marketed to relevant channels outside strictly salon/spa. “We look at each of our products one at a time and determine who it is relevant to,” said Lewis Farsedakis, CEO, Blinc Inc. The mascara, for example, is a practical product for athletes and brides, so the brand started showing up at yoga, running and bridal shows. In addition, the company is about to launch a national campaign called Rethink Your Wink to emphasize the product’s performance. It will feature active consumers boasting about their mascara that “allows you to live the way you want to.” The company will be buying media for fall 2010, saturating one market for a month or two through local television, magazines, print, radio and direct mail before moving on to another market and repeating the process across the U.S.

The professional channel limits the brand from some types of growth. If the products were to become available in mass retail stores, it believes it would lose credibility with its core customers—who would potentially drop the brand. By keeping diversification within 10,000 stores it sold to directly, though, the company didn’t feel the effects of the economy as others may have and feel secure in its decision.

“We’ve had nearly 11 years of consecutive growth,” said Farsedakis. As one of Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in 2007, 2008 and 2009, even the financial industry recognizes the brand’s significant double-digit growth.

Amid a full-blown recession, the Boca Raton, Florida, entrepreneur sought ways to streamline his already-lean cosmetics business. The strategies left Blinc more agile and profitable, even in a down economy. “We already run a tight business, but we had to get creative and proactive to get through rough waters,” said Farsedakis. “Flat was pretty good for the rest of what the country was doing. The changes we made put us up 90% in profits (up 150% through the first quarter of 2010), even though sales were up only single digits. The Blinc brand is more profitable now than it has ever been.”

Among the changes, Farsedakis encouraged retailers to stock up, in volume and variety. While his competitors kept their minimum orders the same, Farsedakis halved his minimum order to $125. He also allowed retailers to pick whatever products and quantities they needed, as opposed to pushing pre-packaged orders. “We have to be in tune with our retailers’ needs. If that means them buying ones and twos of product, that’s what we’ll do,” he said. In order to pick and pack whatever customers want, in whatever fashion they want, however, the company had to do its own fulfillment. “You cannot make real-time adjustment with a service, so we quickly brought it in-house. We were already positioned to accommodate a bad recession, and our customers never really dropped off.”