Innovation Through Diversity: Global Marketing

The 2012 graduates of the cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management master's degree program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York presented their Capstone presentations at the Innovation Through Diversity in the Beauty Industry event and reception, sponsored by L’Oréal USA, at FIT’s Katie Murphy Amphitheatre in May. The following white paper accompanied the presentation from Alexandra Fritsch-Gil, Jason Boland, Maria Bowman, Lauren Hoffman and Breanna Martin.

Today’s Global Consumer

The growth of global diversity is increasing at staggering rates. The United States Census Bureau predicts that by 2042, minority groups will become the new majority: making up more than half of the total population. By 2025, more than half of the families with children in the United States are expected to be multicultural.1 The bureau also released estimates showing that 50.4% of children younger than 1 were minorities as of July 1, 2011, up from 49.5% from the 2010 census taken in April 2010. By 2030, there will be more than one billion more people on the planet, but only about 3% of them will be born in the developed world. Today, if the world were a village of 100 people, 61 villagers would be Asian (of that, 20 would be Chinese and 17 would be Indian), 14 would be African, 11 would be European, 9 would be Latin or South American, and 5 would be North American.

Diversity is becoming the new mainstream and as the world changes, people are embracing one another: celebrating their differences and connecting to each other as humans. The Yankelovich 2010 Multicultural Study reported that more than three-quarters of all African-Americans, Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites agree, "One of the best things about America is the cultural diversity you find here." Diversity is taking new forms and becoming redefined: it goes beyond segmenting consumers by race or ethnicity. The cultural identity of consumers has also become only one of the several pieces in the complex jigsaw that define them.

The Spending Power is Shifting

Not only is the diversity in the world growing, but the spending power is starting to dramatically shift. According to Kline, China now has the largest Internet beauty market at $8 billion. This is nine times larger than the United States’ beauty market and the same size as the entire French beauty market. Euromonitor states that Brazilians have doubled their annual consumption of beauty products in the past five years, while the United States’ spend remains flat. In 2010, the BRIC markets accounted for 21% of the $382 billion total global beauty industry value size, and this percentage is set to increase to 25% by 2015.2 We are at a tipping point, where the emerging beauty markets continue to grow in importance, supplying a multitude of diverse consumers to reach.

Today’s Global Consumer: Diverse, Demanding & Connected

Consumers are more diverse, demanding and connected than ever before. Technology is evolving and mobile is a growing phenomenon. According to MobiThinking, 87% of the world has a mobile subscription, and in developing nations, mobile is the leading communication tool, bypassing landlines and in-home Internet usage. InMobi reported that in 2011, global consumers spend 27% of their media time on mobile.

It takes more than simply inserting an ethnic model and translating copy into a different language to successfully reach a globally diverse consumer. Yankelovich also reported that only 75% of consumers feel that today's marketing is both personally and culturally relevant to their lives. Companies need to make a dramatic shift in the way that they are trying to understand the consumer.

Beauty is Universal

For beauty marketers to communicate more effectively, we must look through a lens of inclusion to identify what is common among us. Universal emotion can connect consumers in new ways. Psychologist Paul Ekman showed that contrary to the belief of some anthropologists, facial expressions of emotion are not culturally determined, rather universal and biological in origin. These common emotions include anger, disgust, fear, shame, happiness, sadness and surprise. This commonality is not surprising. Humans everywhere share a common and complex anatomy, physiology, genome and brain structure. We also share the appreciation of beauty and the desire to be beautiful. Psychologist Nancy Etcoff, author of Survival of the Prettiest, has proven in her research that even babies are born with an eye for beauty. Infants, as young as three months old, prefer to stare at an attractive face. Beauty is a common bond that we all share.

The Evolution of Beauty Marketing

In order to meet the needs and demands of the growing diverse consumer, marketing models must take a new approach: aligning global and local teams in a free flowing conversational style with the human in the middle. The new model showcases new found alignment between marketing structures; the communication between global and local revolves around the consumer: understanding tastes and preferences, distinguishing cultural nuances and truly appreciating their differences. Shifting toward a human centric model alters the marketing lens. By employing a human centric marketing model, we humanize our beauty brands and enter into a new marketing paradigm. Simultaneously, we tap into the commonalities we share as humans, identifying each consumer as an individual. It is the ending of mass communication. It is the beginning of a one-on-one conversation between the consumer and the brand.

The One-On-One Conversation

Technology enables brands to engage in a one-on-one conversation with the each consumer. It is a unique and interesting juxtaposition. While technology can be viewed as cold and sterile, it is being used in more human ways. Technology is no longer about circuits, microchips and wires; instead, it is about connecting friends and family in far off corners of the world. Computers, cell phones, iPads and tablets continue to facilitate the one-on-one conversation between people.

Consumers today are continuing to leverage online and mobile platforms as an extension of their shopping experience; to get product information, read reviews and make their purchases. Furthermore, they are constantly sharing with each other, and the brands they love on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Weibo and more. It is becoming increasingly important for beauty marketers to utilize technology to humanize the experience and enhance the emotional bond between the brand and the consumer.

The Digital Fingerprint

As consumers share more and more about themselves, their purchasing patterns and behaviors online, data about each consumer can be gathered, allowing brands to build unique profiles of each, individual consumer. Each consumer’s unique behaviors and patterns, feed into their own, personal, digital fingerprint. This digital fingerprint becomes the way in which the brand can learn about each consumer, based on their unique patterns, and engage in the one-on-one conversation with each consumer. These unique and personal consumer insights will help brands connect on a more emotional level with consumers and aid them in delivering customized and tailored messages to each consumer. In the future, it will allow marketers to go beyond traditional segmentation and speak to consumers as individuals.

The Bonding Helix

In our research, we have considered all previous marketing models that do not best leverage rapid changes in technology. We have created a more dynamic model that provides greater interaction between brand and consumer. The new bonding helix allows beauty brands to have the one-on-one conversation by leveraging the global consumer’s digital fingerprint. At every touchpoint, both consumer and brand share insights, leading to a stronger bond. This multidimensional and dynamic model will ensure brands are connecting and listening to their consumers by delivering customized messages that are unique to them. This is a model for the mobile age, adaptive and flexible to accommodate future advances in technology.

The Backbone of the Model—Consumer and Brand

The first strand of the bonding helix represents the consumer, who seeks to bond with brands that understand them and are relevant. They want to be acknowledged and rewarded for being an active participant in the relationship with the brand. Today’s busy consumers are starved for time and look to brands to create shortcuts to simplify their lives. This time-starved consumer and the emergence of mobile phone usage creates a new concept of “brand butlers” where it is becoming customary for brands to serve their busy customers on-the-go.3 It is for this reason that the consumer becomes a more active and constant presence in the bonding helix model.

The second strand of the bonding helix represents the brand. This model allows the brand to develop a much stronger understanding and respect the needs of the consumer because of the bonds at each touchpoint. Consumers constantly share information with brands. With 59% of people reporting that they often share content online with others and a New York Times story being tweeted once every four seconds, consumers share content to connect with the world and others.4 The brand needs to understand this psychology of sharing. This creates an opportunity for brands to gain new insights, developing a stronger cultural IQ. Observing and understanding these insights, or cultural IQ, allows the brand to better connect on a subconscious level, with more emotional and intimate messages. And, by becoming the consumer’s personal concierge, brands can curate, adding value to their lives.

The Bonds Explained

The brand and the consumer share six bonds. These bonds connect the brand and the consumer, allowing for an engaging one-on-one conversation. The sharing of information becomes the glue that strengthens the bond between the brand and the consumer. Without strong bonds, they remain disconnected.

The first three connections between consumer and brand are the traditional touchpoints of consider, evaluate and buy. The digital era makes these first three steps difficult to decipher. It can begin with a Google search, and end in a purchase in a matter of minutes. And the decision process is often subconsciously decided.

By creating strong bonds, brands are able to more effectively move them through the purchase decision, creating more loyal consumers. In the Consider touchpoint, consumers become aware and learn about your brand and products. During the Evaluate touchpoint, the consumers evaluate if your brand is right for them by aligning their values. They look for reviews, referrals and guidance from friends, family, bloggers and editors. And during the Buy touchpoint, they make the purchase. In the new model, the bond does not stop there, it is just the beginning.

New Enhanced Bonds

The next three bonds are: Re-evaluate, Loyalty and Influence. The consumers then Re-Evaluate their purchase, to decide if they want to continue the relationship with your brand. This could mean becoming a fan, sharing your brand message, or seeking validation from friends. The next bond, Loyalty, remains as crucial as ever. In the recent economic crisis, loyalty took a hit from consumers as the bond shifted with changing consumer habits.5 As a result, Loyalty remains a key bond for brands today as consumers are more impulsive and less loyal as a result of changed purchase behavior. Mobile platforms and purchases on-the-go make this impulsive behavior even more prevalent.

The end goal has now changed for marketers, to go beyond purchase and loyalty, and to establish a more lasting bond, Influence. Diverse consumers today have a voice, and the power, to influence more people than ever before. Their influence impacts the brand. Social media enables consumers to Influence by speaking to millions and potentially billions of people. And this is not a concept limited to the developed markets. For example, China has the top ranking social media activity in the world with 84% of Internet users contributing at least once a month to social networking, blogging, video-uploading, photo-sharing, microblogging, forums and other digital sharing platforms. China is then followed by Russia, Brazil and India.5 And consumers aren’t just connecting on personal interests unrelated to brands. Currently, 50% of people follow brands through social media exemplifying consumers desire to connect and converse with brands.7

And it is the consumer’s digital fingerprint that empowers the brand to go beyond these basic touch points and to bond with consumers on a deeper, more emotional level. All of this can be achieved through the new bonding helix.

Practical Application of the Bonding Helix

To start, brands must create and provide customized digital content that is tailored to the diverse consumer and his or her unique needs. In order to bond with consumers more emotionally, brands will need to identify and learn from environmental, geographic, behavioral and emotional factors. Technology can help brands identify these factors, such as advancements in facial and behavioral recognition. Brands must also evaluate consumers’ access to technology to deliver the messages in a way that adds value to their lives and that conveniently reaches them. Finally, the brand will need to identify where the consumer is within the bonding helix journey and tailor the message and approach accordingly.

In the Consider phase, the goal is to make a first impression that shows consumers the brand is listening to them and understands they have unique needs. Brands can provide personalized experiences that include interactive digital window displays using facial recognition, digital magazines that learn as consumers browse, and online experiences backed with powerful customer relationship management tools that speak directly to the consumer.

Brands should go beyond traditional visual cues and provide sensorial experiences to their consumers using verbal and non-verbal communication. Audio and scent branding are being used effectively by companies like Dunkin’ Donuts. In South Korea, each time a Dunkin’ Donuts radio commercial was played on commuter buses, a light coffee aroma was released to provide a sensory connection to the brand. Brands acknowledge possible language barriers and find other nonverbal ways to communicate with consumers.

In Evaluate, the goal is for consumers to experience the brand in a way that allows them to narrow down their choices and commit to a purchase. Brands must ensure ongoing access to product information and guidance so that consumers can try the product both in person and virtually to maximize exposure and access of your brand to consumers and encourage purchase. Brands are finding innovative ways to create customized experience in and out of the store environment. In Japan, vending machines with facial recognition and can recommend a drink based on the consumer profile.8

Additionally, brands can use holograms, projections, augmented reality, video, virtual concierge glasses, tablets and mobile to deliver an enhanced shopping experience for customers. By using consumers’ digital fingerprint, brands can then tailor the language and visuals to reflect the consumers’ personal traits, diversity and custom needs while giving real time feedback to the brand as they sense how long consumers engage with the platforms and content.

In the Buy bond, brands must find ways to make their products accessible and be where consumers are. With technology developments such as KinectShop, an augmented reality shopping tool and the explosion of mobile, every surface of the home and corner of the world can become an opportunity to buy. Some brands already let consumers buy products at a discount or for free in exchange for social media sharing allowing consumers to pay with social currency, i.e. ‘pay with a tweet,’ a Facebook post or a review.

In Re-evaluate, after a consumer has purchased a product, the brand must work to keep consumers interested and engaged. The brand must have an engaging life online where they add value to people’s lives. Brands can enhance the relationship with consumers by providing application techniques, “how-to’s” and suggest complementary products. Additionally, brands should create platforms for consumers to express their opinions and use digital listening to better understand consumer needs and respond to them to ensure they have an accurate perception of the brand’s offerings and values.

Loyal consumers deserve the most attention and the brand can take opportunities to reinforce the consumer connection to the brand. It can be subtle reminders such as Apple’s audio branding, the rings, clicks and other sounds from an iPhone or MacBook that they have the brand’s support. Give them tools for self-expression such as Heineken’s “Open Your World” campaign that encouraged users to print ‘U-Codes’ to share their own personal messages.9 Brands also must make sure there is a platform for loyalists to express themselves so the brand can learn from them and so they can influence others consumers who share their needs.

In Influence, the most important phase, the brand and consumer engage in a more meaningful way, during which they formalize how they have influenced each other as a result of their relationship. Real-time data implemented during the influence phase has the ability to drive innovation and ensure the brand is catering to its diverse consumer’s needs. Brands must ensure there is a platform for loyalists to express themselves so the brand can learn and so they can influence others. EOS Photochains is a great example of influence; the brand made a game out of photo sharing where users posted a photo and inspired the next photo based on the content of the original photo creating a ‘photochain.’10 After a brand establishes the influence bond with a consumer, the brand and consumer will evolve through the relationship, and influence each other in a meaningful way.


In this rapidly changing world, we must establish a strong bond with our consumers to address their diversity now and in the future. Global consumers are changing, and they are only going to become more diverse.

We are at a tipping point, where the consumer has a more powerful voice and higher expectations of the brands they interact with. There is increasing pressure, to adapt our marketing models, to be more flexible and fluid. As beauty marketers, we have an opportunity, with the evolution of personal communication technologies, to speak one-on-one with our consumers. The bonding helix is an adaptive and innovative model that embraces the diverse consumer, and is flexible, for future advances in technology.

This new marketing model will provide unique benefits to all stakeholders. For consumers, the model delivers value through messages that are targeted to their unique and individual needs. This model helps to give beauty marketers, a global perspective, increasing their cultural IQ. Data mined through the digital fingerprint provides beauty brands invaluable consumer insights. This new marketing paradigm will help marketers become more intelligent, efficient and agile in bonding with the diverse global consumer.


  1. D Burgos and M Ola, Marketing To the New Majority: Strategies for a Diverse World, Palgrave Macmillan, New York (2011)
  2. C Lennard, BRIC: Continued Domination of Global Beauty Sales, GCI Magazine.(Jul 13, 2011)
  3. Brand Butlers, (Apr 2010)
  4. J Berger and KL Milkman, Social Transmission and Viral Culture, (Feb 2010)
  5. Q&A: Consumer Loyalty after the Recession, (Aug 5, 2011)
  6. C Pring, 100 more social media statistics for 2012, (Feb 13, 2012)
  7. Ibid.
  8. Japan’s face-scanning vending machines, The Week, (Nov 22, 2010)
  9. Duncan, Heineken U-Code, The Inspiration Room, (Jan 11, 2012)
  10. Canon: EOS Photochain Explained, Creativity Online, (Jun 22, 2010)


Changing Balance Between Age Groups, World Population Ageing 1950–2050, Population Division, DESA, United Nations
C Lennard, BRIC: Continued Domination of Global Beauty Sales, GCI Magazine. 13 (July 13 2011)
Brand Butlers, (Apr 2010)
J Berger and KL Milkman, Social Transmission and Viral Culture, (Feb 2010)
Q&A: Consumer Loyalty after the Recession, (Aug 5, 2011)
C Pring, 100 more social media statistics for 2012, (Feb 13, 2012)
Japan’s face-scanning vending machines, The Week, (Nov 22, 2010)
A Walker, Shoppers can virtually try on designer sunglasses outside Bloomingdale’s,, (Apr 24, 2012)
Gomus uses RFID to create fitting-room soundscapes, (Aug 10, 2011)
The Nike Challenge (Men vs Women), (Mar 19, 2009)
Duncan, Heineken U-Code, The Inspiration Room, (Jan 11, 2012)
Canon: EOS Photochain Explained, Creativity Online, (Jun 22, 2010)

D Burgos and M Ola, Marketing To the New Majority:Strategies for a Diverse World,  Palgrave Macmillan, New York (2011)
M Gobe, Emotional Branding. Allworth Press, New York (2009)
C Rapaille,The Culture Code, Broadway Books, New York (2006)

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