Beauty & The Beast: making money from the beauty industry. The Beauty Symposium 2017: Face. Place. Space.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017, 12:36 | Category : General
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The Red Tree Consultancy hosted its fifth Beauty Symposium this week, this time investigating the challenges brands are facing in what is perceived as the three fundamental building blocks to drive sales and awareness: face, place and space. Five industry influencers talked a room of beauty buyers, founders, journalists and agencies through their perspective.

It struck me that all of them had one sobering view and that is that it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate and build a brand in a very crowded space. We are seeing the cost of doing business and the complexity of building a brand increase in all markets – but perhaps none have felt it so keenly as the beauty industry. As each speaker told their story it reinforced to me just how fundamental PR and brand is to the success of each business.

Kelly Kovak straight off a flight from New York shared her story of building the Odin New York fragrance brand from scratch. In a space where over 350 new fragrances are launched each year, Odin had to navigate its way into being via independent partnerships until the long awaited department store gave them the nod. Celeb perfume brands have declined by 31% and mass-market fragrances are forecast to drop by 15% but the future is bright for the niche market which is growing 22% year on year. By focusing on the “ungendered” market (unisex) and being rigorous on design and packaging they have built a strong position as a leading independent player in a market that has seen M&A activity from all the industry giants. Kelly’s was a story about segmenting and a clearly defined and differentiated brand.

Michael Van Clarke, the Mayfair hairdresser (and brother of Nicky) talked about the rigorous science and testing behind the 3 more inches product range. His story was one of authenticity and ensuring his products were tested and approved by his team and core client base before taking to market.

Lara Morgan, a well known and publicised entrepreneur and women’s advocate in her own right talked us through how she built her brand from nothing to a sale value of £20 million. Hers was a story of scale, international business and sheer bloody determination and guts. She is now starting over launching Scentered which is a labour of love bringing her experience as a stressed-out working mum and the need for calm in her day together in the shape of an aromatherapy balm.

Crispin Reed from Skyscraper Consulting talked about the misunderstood and poorly targeted older age group and the fact that the increased focus on the millennial was a distraction from the more loyal, more affluent and larger segment of those that are over fifty. After a pretty nifty experiment in stereotyping that involved some heavy make up and prosthetics he made his point – stereotyping of any form is a huge risk to marketing, particularly in the beauty industry. Dove do it well but so many others do it so badly, but the lesson is that the beauty business needs to look at the older generation as a growth market and a massive opportunity.

The event rounded off with a really interesting anthropology talk from Paula Zuccotti, a brand, design and trends forecaster and acclaimed author of Everything We Touch. Paula showcased some of the stories from her book which showed how people interact with brands every day. The book is a beautiful curation of daily life from a 7 month old in London to a 74 year old in China. It won’t surprise you (but may please you) that Colgate is the one product that features the most in the book. However apart from having good dental hygiene, there are so many other wonderful quirks that we all share all over the world. These trends helped Paula educate the brands she worked with into how they should redesign their packaging, brand campaigns or point of sale and where they are positioned in a supermarket. The story she told is that we should look at brands and behaviour as an archaeologist would look at an Egyptian dig. As brand builders are we doing just that; are we future archaeologists?


Top #5 learnings from the day:

1. Differentiate
2. Be authentic
3. Scale and be opportunistic
4. Avoid stereotypes
5. Know your global market place; learn how people interact with your brand

What can we as PR consultants learn from this?

That there isn’t a PR playbook anymore – there is no PR 1.0 method that we can just copy and paste for each beauty launch. That we need to be really clear on our target and spend more time than ever studying and understanding how and when they react with that product. (In the case of the child in the bath from Paula’s observations, why aren’t more products designed with toys as part of the packaging – this is a missed opportunity). We need to challenge our clients’ thinking and be very open to new segments (those over 50) and how we reach them.

I think there’s also a case for a more organic, slower, authentic launch like that of Michael Van Clarke’s 3 more inches range and Scentered and Odin – where we accept that to make a meaningful dent in market share, we need to be focused and take a longer term view. PR and social is brilliant at this when done authentically and targeted correctly.

Blog By George @georgeblizzard

#FacePlaceSpace @beautysymposium

@MVanClarke @IamLaraMorgan @kellykovak @crispinreed @everythingpau

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