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FIT Draws Beauty Industry Leaders to Conference

January 10, 2007

In November leaders from the beauty, fashion, retailing, design, hospitality and publishing worlds came together at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Building an Innovative Business: The Future of Beauty, hosted by FIT’s Master’s Program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management. The conference, sponsored by Target, was a forum to keep pace with the challenges the beauty industry faces and included speakers from Kiehl’s, The Estée Lauder Cos., P&G’s Beauty Division and Matrix Worldwide, just to name a few.

Opening keynote speaker, Paul Bennett, chief creative officer of design firm IDEO, reminded attendees that observing and listening are the keys to understanding consumer needs and wants through staying grounded in the reality of the consumers’ lives, bringing consumers into the actual ideation of a brand and having consumers benefit from experience, such as when consumers benefit from one brand experience, they develop higher expectations for brands across the board.

Panelists on “Building Innovative Brand Cultures” insisted that attendees never compromise on the product, brand, cultural experience or the commitment to the consumers. It is equally important that the beauty industry not take itself too seriously.

The key takeaways from the second panel, “Innovation Through Product Design” were to be in touch with the very specific group you want to reach, recognize convergence in product features, find ways to allow consumers to customize and translate innovation in meaningful ways––marketing and technology are not enough.

Minda Gralnek, vice president, creative director for Target gave a luncheon presentation advising companies to always be on the lookout for innovative and unexpected products.

According to NPD, 40% of beauty consumers do not have a favorite brand and more than 40% do not have a favorite store. During an “Innovation at Retail” panel, Karen Grant of NPD also cited that more than 70% of fine department store prestige beauty shoppers shop in mass retail stores for beauty products. Women buy from whomever has what she wants.

As a result, beauty brands must have a point of view, address the unmet consumer need, bring fun, new consumer experiences, be willing to evolve and make the shopping experience easier, according to the panel.
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