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Idea Applications

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: March 8, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

I have a bin on the shelf near my desk, just a regular bin to keep paperwork that you can find in any office supply store. I inherited it along with the other usual supplies when I joined GCI magazine; it had been labeled “Purgatory.” I have no idea what files it had held for punishment, but it has become a storage place for the “purification” of ideas. Besides the materials that are sent to me and end up in the bin, bits of torn out magazines and newspapers find their way there—waiting for the ideas they contain to spark something more that the editors of GCI can run with.

One now discoloring piece is a blurb that I tore from my local paper in March 2010, and it is apropos to this issue, with its focus on anti-aging: “A man stole eight bottles of anti-aging products and four bottles of regenerating serum, items worth a total of $323, from CVS ... ” My first thought was, “Wow. That’s a lot of product.” My second thought (showing I’ve caught on to thinking about consumers in targeted segments) was, “I wonder how old this guy is?” I mean, is he looking to head off the aging process at the pass? And what product types would suit those needs best? Another thought that now occurs to me is that for all the brand owners looking for entrée into the men’s market, I think we found a consumer study candidate— check out Alisa Marie Beyer’s Testing, Testing ... 1, 2, 3 for real insight into consumer studies.

Regardless of what attracted this Dorian Gray kleptomaniac, it is clear consumers as a whole are looking for the newest breakthroughs in anti-aging—and are also expecting better results and more choices. In New Solution for Anti-aging, Shyam Gupta and Linda Walker consider the application of osmoprotection for multifunctional skin care, notably to address signs of aging. It is relatively new, but early indications suggest the potential for anti-aging products that will capture consumers’ imaginations. One of the signs of aging that osmoprotection addresses is intracellular inflammation, and Marie Alice Dibon contributes Inflammation and Aging, noting that low-level irritants can trigger an almost ongoing inflammatory reaction that is a major culprit in aging skin—described as inflamm-aging. Dibon writes that addressing inflamm-aging involves fighting the external damage by using anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidant compounds; fighting cellular damage and fighting protein oxidation. And according to several articles published in late January, scientists have found a protein that acts as a “master switch” to determine whether certain white blood cells will boost or dampen inflammation. I wonder what implications this switch may have in the development of cosmetic products.

In the March 2011 issue, Eva Martin Fernandez, MWV’s European marketing manager, writes about the importance of consumer insight, notably of French consumers, and the impact on brand strategies and the packaging that fulfills these strategies. At about the time I was editing this contribution, I received an email with information on the efforts of Shelley Bausch, Dow Corning vice president and global executive director, Xiameter brand, and Dirk Soontjens, Dow Corning Hair Care global marketing manager, toward meeting the needs of a specific market and consumer through product customization based on market data/consumer insight and served through appropriate/innovative supply chains.

Soontjens tells us the starting point for developing formula/products for specific target consumers/markets always has to focus on consumer needs. In other words, specific claims and positioning essentially respond to consumer needs and an inherent trend toward individualization. And, according to Bausch, “consumer demand and stricter regulation in emerging and developing countries are leading to a growing emphasis on maintaining a ‘green’ supply chain.”