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High Performance, Good Business

Jeff Falk
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Dino Guglielmelli, COO, SKIN by Monica
Ron Cummings, Founder, AminoGenesis
Lyn Barbatschi, Creative Director, Polysciences, Inc.
Carolyn Veroni, Director of Business Development, Celazome

What are today’s consumers looking for in skin care products?
Dino Guglielmelli: Ease-of-use products, results driven satisfaction and non-tacky, fast-absorbing feel. Fragrance [subjectively] is different for everyone, but good fragrances are also important.

Ron Cummings: I think consumers are a bit confused about which skin care products to buy. There is just a ton of long-standing misinformation and falsehoods that get propagated to the consumer. Hype may have little to do with actual performance or anything new. I have heard so many consumers say, “I have tried 50 different products and none of them work.” But when I ask them to list the products, it turns out they have actually only used two or three different products in 50 different looking jars!

Lyn Barbatschi: Consumers are looking for something to fill a need. In the spa industry, it is health and wellness, soothing the inside and the outside while combating skin, nail and hair damage.

Carolyn Veroni: Products that require fewer steps, [are] not so complicated and yet work.

What are consumer expectations in terms of performance?
Dino Guglielmelli
: People expect results and are not willing to wait long for [them]. Again, everyone is different in what their expectations are and why they purchased the product in the first place, but because of the competitive nature of the skin care industry, if results aren’t quick, users will move on to other choices.

Ron Cummings: The consumer’s expectations are pretty straight forward; they expect a product to do what it claims to do.

Lyn Barbatschi: Product performance is more than just smelling good; consumers want products that are actually effective and solve a problem. Consumers are demanding more complicated technological solutions from their personal care products—whether it’s a solution for antiaging, stretch marks or natural products. Creating new technologies in personal care products is a leading way to grow price and customer satisfaction, all while meeting the demands of the environment.

Carolyn Veroni: They want results.Something that makes their friends notice, and they want a guarantee.

How are these expectations different from those of two years ago or even 10 years ago? Are consumers savvier?
Dino Guglielmelli
: I think the expectation is higher because of the promises that are being marketed. Individuals who think Botox, for example, provides immediate [and pleasing] results will compare the results of their skin care regimen to their injections, which is unrealistic. The expectation is higher now because of the results of these intrusive type of treatments. Are they savvier? Maybe a little bit, but not much more than before. There is a need for more education of what types of damage are being done when people are actually trying to do good.

Ron Cummings: Ten years ago, consumers certainly had much fewer choices in terms of ingredients and fewer choices on where to get advice, so I think expectations were lower about what products may accomplish for them. Consumers now have a wide variety of possibilities (like the emergence of medi spas), more magazines dedicated to skin care ... . And, naturally, this has made the consumer much wiser.

Lyn Barbatschi: In the past 10 years, there has been an emphasis on recycling and sustainability in both packaging and raw materials used in manufacturing. The selection and variety of creams, lotions and personal care products offered a few years ago was pretty basic. Just a few years ago, consumers would purchase products just to indulge in a great smelling product, now the consumer is much more educated because of the media. Consumers are more aware of what is healthy and what is not healthy and what they can do to make a difference for the environment, personal development and sustainable living.

Carolyn Veroni: Even as little as two years ago, we didn’t have access to clinically proven ingredients to make claims of a result-orientated product line. Our customers are growing up with us, and they sometimes suggest an ingredient that they have read about and wonder if we will be using it in our new products. [They are] much savvier. I think they are label readers and ingredient readers. They don’t want to waste their money on products that will not perform for their skin type.

How do consumers approach products on the shelf?
Dino Guglielmelli
: We are in a visual marketplace, and—obviously, in this environment—packaging sells product and gives it a “personality.” There is a big push in retail internationally to have “testing bars” in the stores where people can apply product and test them on their own, listen to their iPods and make an event out of trying skin care. Domestically, it’s more about how the shelf looks or price, depending on the venue.

Ron Cummings: The consumer is still going to gravitate toward products they have heard about through advertising, etc.

How have these issues and consumer movements impacted business decisions related to bringing a skin care product or line to market?
Dino Guglielmelli
: We are still focused on the quality of what is inside the package. This will continue to be our focus. Make the best target-specific product, package [it] in a shelf-friendly, environmentally sensitive component, and give it attention through PR and consumer testimony. The business will come.

Ron Cummings: That depends on the kind of company [in question]. Some companies are totally in it to ride the next hype or fad, then on to the next. However, there are a few, like ours, that do not go for the “ingredient of the month” hype, and anything we do is going to be based on very clear, strong science.

Lyn Barbatschi: In business, the beauty industry and the wellness industry have merged together. Facial skin care products have dominated the market with antiaging products for the mature person’s facial skin, [and] now there is more emphasis on all-over body care and wellness. Personal care products are being formulated to help people feel less stressed. When you feel better, you also look better. No one can truly express their inner radiance when their body is overstressed from the demands of today’s lifestyle.
Carolyn Veroni: We want to give the customer what they want, so we wait until the clinicals come out for these ingredients and at what percentage. Then we will usually take a more-is-better approach and usually put in the maximum load of these performance ingredients—such as in the case of newer peptides.

What are the trends that impact skin care, how are they impacting skin care lines and which do you decide to follow?
Dino Guglielmelli: Domestically, trends are driven by celebrities. Results keep trends alive. We have made a decision to focus on quality over everything else. That is our responsibility to the consumer. They entrust us [with giving] them high quality, results-driven skin care; we are making our own trends [by providing efficacious products]. As a manufacturer, we are in touch with the latest trends as other customer request specific products. Quality will eventually be the utmost importance—quality is king. From the quality of the product to the quality of the components and look of the product, [R&D and marketing] must be in synergy, and it is a joint effort. Ultimately, manufacturing must light the torch and marketing must carry it.

Ron Cummings: The industry is more likely to follow the fad of the moment than a trend. Here is a great example: Almost every month you will see a major ad campaign from a major skin care company touting the latest and greatest ingredient … . So what was wrong with the latest and greatest from last month? If a company is being true to itself, it should have a very logical [approach to creating and marketing] skin care, and everything that follows should be a continued area of research. Sure, there are some new things that could be incorporated, but are they truly new things or are they fads? A new trend should only be established when new and different research reveals something new about how the skin functions or responds.

Lyn Barbatschi: There is a lot of focus on wellness and environmental awareness. It’s on everyone’s mind right now—East Coast and West Coast consumers. The media has brought a lot of awareness regarding green products, organic products and sustainable living. Consumers want products that promote health, respect the environment, increase personal development and are socially responsible.

Identifying trends is challenging due to the tremendous amount of information sources available today such as the Internet, television and reports. As a manufacturer of personal care products, we try to identify the trends and react quickly so we can help our customers grow their brands as well as our own brands.

Carolyn Veroni: I think the trend is in more natural ingredients, less parabens, more result-orientated. [In following a trend], we think realistically. We know we can give the consumer results with our nanotechnology, and we do so with larger loads and concentrations. We stay all vegan and use the smallest amount of preservatives that will keep our product “clean.”

How do marketers and R&D professionals work together to bring skin care products to market?
Dino Guglielmelli
: As the manufacturer, developer and market designers, we have all of these departments under one roof. It is hard to satisfy everyone along the way. We believe R&D must drive the decisions about the products, and marketing then can develop the buzz and preach the cause. R&D cannot be driven by marketing, otherwise quality standards [suffer]. Marketing needs to promote and sell, get involved in packaging designs and look; R&D must develop from a results-driven mind set.

Ron Cummings: What I described [in a previous answer] is actually how I think things should work, but rarely do. What really happens is that a major raw ingredient manufacturer puts out information about a new ingredient. Let’s use as an example the peptide craze of the last few years. All of the sudden, everyone has the same peptide, mixing it with all sorts of [other ingredients] and touting wild and crazy benefits. While the ingredient may be valid, it must be used carefully, as many other ingredients disable the benefits. Or that ingredient may only be effective for specific age ranges or in other very specific situations. The consumer gets the hype, but not the reality of who this ingredient can help.

Lyn Barbatschi: Businesses cannot survive in today’s market without innovative products. Marketing professionals, chemists and formulators are working in symbiotic relationships to create products that help people live longer, healthier lives. R&D and marketing collaborate together to develop creative solutions providing future growth in business.

How is that relationship different today than it was in the past?
Dino Guglielmelli
: For us, it hasn’t changed. I think there are many companies in the marketplace that market what is trendy and drive R&D to come up with an item in a category that is hot—which may create a product that is quality, but strictly for marketing purposes. So if anything, trends, in this celebrity-driven consumer environment, have changed the importance of the roles. This is not necessarily good for the consumer.

Carolyn Veroni: Competition is fierce in this industry, and we need to collaborate as much as possible. We may take as long as two years before we release a product to market. We want to cover all of our bases and feel confident that we have a superior product on the market by today’s standards—ingredient-wise as well as result-wise. We listen and we move forward as we are listening.

What role does technology play in marketing today’s products?
Dino Guglielmelli
: In manufacturing, technology plays an important role through raw material verifications, analysis and manufacturing procedures—which are critical to consistent, high quality and effective products.

Ron Cummings: We take a very scientific approach and ask some very basic questions. Once you understand how the skin functions and what it actually needs to accomplish its tasks, it becomes easy to evaluate. The first evaluation is easy: complex ingredients simply cannot pass the protective barrier of the skin known as the stratum corneum. Therefore, anything [targeting that layer], in our opinion, is simply not helpful or, in some cases, can be harmful. The skin is not a digestive organ and cannot process complex proteins or ingredients. Common sense needs to prevail as well. In the end, if we aren’t applying products with ingredients inherent to skin at the base level, why are we doing it?

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