And the Winner is …

Whether you are a brand new indie beauty cutie, looking to take the industry by storm, or a seasoned veteran with the key to the newest antiaging technology at your fingertips, a beauty award is out there with your brand’s name on it. Industry, consumer and editorial-driven award’s programs for beauty products in the makeup, skin care, hair care and fragrance (prestige and mass) categories are sponsored by nearly every facet of the industry: beauty and fashion magazines; beauty associations; and even major beauty retailers such as Sephora are jumping into the fray, and winners are eagerly anticipated each year.

Three of the most prestigious and well-known types of awards bestowed—peer or industry awards, editorial awards and consumer awards—all offer very achievable opportunities for even the smallest brand to gain industry recognition and walk away a winner.

Peer Review

The cream of all beauty awards are those bestowed by esteemed industry associations such as Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and The Fragrance Foundation. Handed out yearly in carefully edited categories, these awards are highly coveted and can bring a wealth of irreplaceable consumer and industry exposure to a brand. Categories are comprehensive, and represent truly superior achievements by a brand—including best newcomer of the year, best marketing innovation and best fragrance of the year. In addition, the entry process is generally well-defined, with specific submission deadlines and requirements.

Unlike editorial or consumer-voted beauty awards, peer-voted awards often require more preparation, planning and strategy to not only win, but to enter, as well. For the venerable CEW Beauty Award, no less than eight months of preparation should be dedicated to entering this contest, starting with the submission of a detailed entry form that includes photos and sample products in the fall, and ending with attendance at the gala CEW Beauty Awards Luncheon in early spring. And that is just one award. Investing the appropriate time and attention to every nuance of the submission process, reaching out to the contacts at each association for any extra information and studying past winners of these awards should all be part of your entry strategy for this caliber of award, and will exponentially help increase your odds of a win.

Editor’s Picks

Favorites of magazines such as Lucky, Allure and Redbook, editorial beauty awards are also popular with consumers. Handed out yearly, this type of award is generally very comprehensive and is bestowed in every basic category of beauty, skin care and hair care such as: best mascara, best SPF, best foot lotion, best hair spray, etc. Intended to help consumers cull through the enormous amount of products that are available, and to recognize truly exceptional contenders in each of these categories, editorial beauty awards are given out after editors (or editorial boards) have tested and tried every product entered into the contest, and winners are then distinguished by a winning seal or label, not to mention free press.

Although typically not as complicated as industry awards, the submission process for editorial beauty awards, nevertheless, still requires thought and commitment in order to make the best impression upon beauty editors, many of whom are in the enviable position of trying and testing nearly every new beauty product that hits the market. Submission deadlines may be firm or accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year; often, products are only eligible for entry in the year they were launched. It may be necessary to send sample products and photos, and as with peer awards, reaching out to contacts at each magazine for information and input on the award’s process is key to creating a winning entry.

Reader Reactions

Of all beauty awards that are available (and there are a lot), the most interactive (and some might even say fun) are those that involve consumer participation, such as Sephora “Best of” awards or reader-voted “best of beauty” awards sponsored through magazines such as Glamour and Self. These awards, typically bestowed each year, recognize hundreds of beauty products in dozens of categories, some of which are particular to the publication (such as natural or organic) and some of which may speak to the retail environment (best-selling lip gloss or eye shadow). Like editorial awards, reader voted awards are a great way for a brand to gain consumer exposure and appreciation. Not only will the brand be featured on the Web sites of the magazine or retailer as a winner, many of these awards also carry a seal of recognition that may then be used on packaging and marketing materials.

Not surprisingly, reader-voted awards are very appealing to consumers. The accessibility of these awards, coupled with the fact that ordinary people are the judges (as opposed to beauty executives or editors) makes winning this type of award particularly beneficial to a brand. As consumers consider their discretionary spending more and more carefully, they are seeking reasons to believe in a brand, and a reader-bestowed “best of beauty” award is just such a reason.

Best in Show

No matter the bestowing body, every brand should be striving toward winning accolades. They create instant consumer appeal, provide the brand with valuable (and perhaps unforeseen) outlets for growth and, let’s face it, they are fun to win. Step up to the podium and get your brand ready to accept not just one, but many awards with a strategy that includes outreach, information and action.

Alisa Marie Beyer is the founder and creative director of The Benchmarking Company (TBC), a global beauty consulting firm offering business, strategy, consumer intelligence and branding. As publishers of the “must-read” Pink Report and WomenTrends, TBC keeps its fingers on the pulse of the industry and offers unparalleled consumer insights and intelligence. E-mail: [email protected];

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