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The Power of Choice

Posted: October 29, 2013

In her blog post "If I Had Married Him," Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst with The NPD Group, discusses the power of chossing—and women choosing, in particular. Sharing a story about First Lady Michelle Obama seeing a man she had once dated and joking that if she had married that man he'd be president, Grant acknowledges Michelle's role in her presidential husband's life. "Though her tone was meant to be playful, there was no hiding what we understood as the true meaning behind her words; she played a key role in her husband’s success to winning the Presidency. Her playful comment also indirectly alluded to the role of today’s women, and their ability to influence both economic and social trends. Such is the potential power in a woman’s choice," Grant writes.

She continues, "Choice matters. Can you imagine a store with one option in women’s shoes? Or, one fragrance? One shade of makeup? One skin care cream? It would never work. Women love to choose, but sometimes too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Perhaps that is why, in an industry where choice is seemingly endless, one of the emerging trends in beauty may actually be driven by a limitation of choices. The increased performance of niche and premium-priced category offerings may appeal to consumers because of the perceived exclusivity from selective distribution and advertising, or perhaps it is the elimination of confusion that comes with fewer products to choose from.

"Whatever the case, the growth in niche fragrances is an example of this trend (up 27% January–August 2013, compared to the same time in 2012). Despite the appearance of a relatively narrow reach, this segment is outperforming a lackluster fragrance category, which gained only 3% in dollar volume.

"So, while we may not think that our individual choice can actually influence the social or economic trends of an entire country, in beauty, our choices are making quite a difference. The niche beauty space may seem small, but its success speaks volumes about how an element of exclusivity, along with high quality and excellence in service, can distinguish some products from the masses. When the choice is the best of the best, something that is different and selective from everything and everybody else may be the next big thing changing the curve," Grant concludes.