I'll Have What She's Having1 Apr, 2008 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response
In an oversaturated market, beauty and personal care industry giants are turning to direct response platforms to create a buzz, build trust and solidify branding.
Gaining and retaining a customer in the beauty industry often comes down to trust. A woman wants to know that the product will, in fact, reduce sunspots and wrinkles. DR marketing is a perfect venue for showcasing what a product can do and winning that trust.
In February, well-known beauty brand Clinique debuted on QVC, marking the largest two-hour beauty launch in the channel's history — more than 41,000 units were ordered and six products sold out. The show offered collections created specifically for QVC and also packaged traditional Clinique products such as its iconic Three-Step Deluxe Set. Also, Almost Powder Makeup SPF 15 was previewed on QVC and didn't hit stores until March.
Customers knew it was not available in any other outlet, which created a draw. "As the department store landscape changes, we have to follow our consumers and go to where she shops," says Denny Downs, executive director, Clinique North American Marketing. "More and more women are shopping through QVC and similar channels. We also thought it was an excellent opportunity to tell the brand story by the woman who leads our product development team." Clinique is planning another QVC show for April.
An infomercial is a perfect way to see the "before-and-after" of any beauty product. Women want to see and hear testimonials. Not to mention, "Watching the ticker on QVC and seeing the inventory deplete before your very eyes gives you the same feeling as gambling, and I think it is a very powerful tool," says Karen Quimby Lobo, founder of Product 360 — a brand development marketing company.
Trust also means offering outstanding customer service. Carey Grange is general manager for global marketing at Murad (Response, April 2007). "Get them easy-to-return products, give them fast refunds, give them an 800 number — transparency is important from a trust standpoint," says Grange.
Murad's clinical skincare products were developed by Dr. Howard Murad and launched in 1989. They were the first to use alpha-hydroxy acids in a professional product and are now sold in 2,000 professional locations — including his own medi-spa — across the country, and in retailers such as Sephora and Ulta.
Murad takes customer service very seriously — calling it the WOW department after receiving so many compliments for their client service efforts. "Our WOW employees are empowered to do whatever it takes to make customers say, 'WOW! They were helpful,'" she adds. All WOW staffers work in-house for Murad.
Let Your Fingers Do The Talking
"You've got to try this!" could be the best marketing sell for beauty and personal care products. "We're trying to take these principles and apply them to all of our communications as a touchpoint strategy for customers and potential customers," says Grange.
But testimonials are not limited to TV. Many cosmetics and skincare lines have testimonials from real consumers on their Web sites and opportunities to interact with customers who have already used the product. There are endless blogs on the Web, some led by product manufacturers and others created from a consumer's home computer.
Beauty and personal care products are even finding their way onto the ultimate community site, Facebook. Estée Lauder's MAC cosmetics have several groups on Facebook, including MAC Addicts, which has nearly 8,000 members who chat about how best to use products, upcoming product releases, etc.
"Social and viral marketing is the new medium for good old-fashioned word of mouth," says Wise. "While they have always been important to the success of a brand, what is unique today is how the Internet facilitates this for our customers."