The Grayson Report

New Beauty: A new pace for beauty

By Suzanne and Bob Grayson, Grayson Associates | February 29, 2008

Magazine & Retail Store Set a New Pace for Beauty

As we wandered into a shop in Boca Raton the first thought was of serendipity.  Here is a definition as provided by Wikipedia: The discovery of something by accident while investigating something quite different. For example, finding a biological culture “ruined” by mould, and discovering the antibiotic penicillin as a consequence.
We were looking for a hostess gift when we stumbled into a store called NewBeauty. It was new to us, but sounded familiar.  Then we saw the magazine, and it all came together. The current magazine, featuring Heidi Klum on the cover, was almost as hefty as Vogue’s September issue (lots of heavy-stock ads). It covers just about everything involved with beauty. It’s laced with celebs, authoritative plastic surgeons and derms, plenty of before-and-afters, and so much product placement that it is often hard to tell where the editorial stops and the advertising begins. But, that’s just picky-picky.
The magazine is a smash! Now to the store. It’s a blast. Walk into any purveyor of beauty products, regardless of price or distribution, and you have an indigestible sea of products, confusion and bewilderment—including the best of them—Sephora and Ulta.
Retailers must (over) crowd their space with lines and lines of merchandise, not to mention the continuing onslaught of new products, in order  to make a decent sales per square foot number, That SPSF number is the traditional retail concept.  
But this is not a typical store. It’s a magazine—in a store format. Take a look at the photo. Huge editorial-style graphics on each side wall, with suitable product-stock mounted close by. The balance of the store stock runs the gamut of some prestige to mostly independent and spa products.

The Spotlight Is on Items

The news—key items not lines! The amazing difference here is that only key items are stocked, not complete lines. Editors’ picks if you will. Imagine the authority.  Speaking of “picks,” note that the entire center selling area of the store features 12 large and dramatic graphic Lucite-style headers on tables, each with its own benefit theme, recommended individual products and testers; see the chart for specifics. All the key items are presented as need/problem solution.
When a consumer says to a Beauty Specialist (two or three of them when we were there): “I need a product to...” It’s right there.  Some neat additions to the mix are:
    1. Flat screen in the wall. Just hold the product UPC code against the screen and see it come alive with product information/demo, etc.
    2. Store is large enough to hold events and classes with derms/plas-tic surgeons and other authorities.         
    3. Beauty Box promotion of samples for $19.95 including a copy of the magazine.
    4. Website is chockablock full of promotions; i.e., automatic shipment of four testers per year. They refer to themselves as the “Interactive Beauty Experience.”

    So, what we have is a medium giving birth to a store, and a store that follows the format of the magazine, all with real editorial authority. The magazine itself is all about beauty, (no fashion or anything else to detract from the main message), with plenty of medical presence.  There’s even a 48-state directory of “beautydocs;” i.e., plastic surgeons, dermatologists and cosmetic dentists, a glossary of every derm/plastic procedure known to man or woman, and an index of the entire issue so that you can re-find the good stuff.

Wanted: Traffic

Of course, one store in a strip mall in Florida isn’t going to send Sephora or Ulta into a deep funk, and it still will have to succeed by virtue of driving traffic to the store.  A difficult task even when you have a bunch of stores (look how long it took Sephora and Ulta to have enough of them to be able to advertise), and virtually impossible (financially) when you have only one or two stores. Here’s where great merchandising, promotion and deep pockets will have to carry the day.  But if you fast-forward five years to a magazine with 500,000 circulation and 100 stores, you get a different picture.  This is a fresh and exciting approach to meeting consumers’ needs.
We’ve devoted so much space to this store because it is a new retail idea. What have been the new retail ideas of the recent past (say, after Wal-Mart, et al)?  Retailing in salons, derms and plastic surgeons offices, specialty shops (Sally’s to Bath and Body Works, and beyond), and growth of spas. Each taking a share of the business, but each more of the same old, same old.  Remember when some drug chain tried to test re-planogramming to consumer’s needs; i.e., all lipsticks together, makeups, etc.? A roar from the manufacturers stopped the trial in its tracks. NewBeauty is quick and easy—just right for the times— and consumers. Kudos to NewBeauty and good luck. (Note: The store has only skin care and body care, so far.)

Running a Brand for President

It really should be the reverse—running for president as a brand, but that would be trying to influence the spinmeisters who are not our readership.  So, think of it this way, what are the basic tenets of good marketing when trying to capture the number one market position?
Any similarity to the presidential campaigns is purely coincidental.
    1. Honesty.  That means that everything about your brand should be transparent. The claims, of course. But what about the copy?  The picture?  Are you overstating just a bit?  Beware!  Once down that road, it’s hard to turn back.
    2. Consistency.  Every ad should build on a previous one.  Every YouTube video should reflect the basic strategy—maybe in a different voice for that audience but nevertheless, the same strategy, just a tactical difference. Displays, counter literature, website—all singing the same tune.
    3. Trust.  You can’t have a product or brand relationship without it.  One-shot ads do nothing, Super Bowl notwithstanding.  Commitment goes hand-in-hand with trust, you can’t have one without the other.   
    4. Strategy.  Nothing works without the right strategy. Think of Rudy’s “Let’s make it big in Florida and rollover everyone.” It has been said, “It’s better to have the right strategy, badly executed, than the wrong strategy, brilliantly executed.”
    5. Empathy.  Show consumers that you understand their problems or needs.  Tap into their running tapes and use that energy to help consumers to convince themselves.  Don’t talk at, talk with.
    6. Permission-to-Believe.  Support your product/brand with reasons (real or imagined) why it should be trusted to deliver the benefits promised.
    Now, go back over the six topics and apply them to the presidential candidates. If your analysis is correct, you should be able to predict the November elections—and how you will do in the share race.               

There is a seventh that doesn’t exactly fit with the others but is salient in a winning campaign.  That is, easy arguments.  The best example (so far) is John McCain and his positions on immigration and the war in Iraq. Initially he favored both.  He still does, but is able to soften the effects with “easy” arguments.
On immigration he says, “Build the wall first.”  On getting out of Iraq he has stated that maybe we’ll have to be there “10, 25 or even 100 years.” But then he adds that we have been in Korea for 60 years, have bases in Germany, Kuwait, a new one coming in Poland and so on. And in Teddy Roosevelt’s words “speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Translate this to advertising, and your message cries out for “easy.”
Think about the heavy duty, statistical claims for a good swath of anti-aging advertising. It’s a “my stats are better than your stats” game.  Often with measurements that are beyond the ken of the average (even upscale) consumer. Too much of a good thing, is not such a good thing.  Then think about Nivea’s campaign: Quick and easy with plenty of warm, fuzzy emotion to seal the deal.

Big Conference this Month

We’ll be covering the good, the bad and the ugly in beauty advertising at the March 17-18 ingredient/technol-ogy conference at the Sheraton Tower Hotel in New York City. More info:

About the Authors
Suzanne and Bob Grayson are respected, professional marketers, having spent their careers with the leading companies in the beauty industry before staring their successful consulting business in the early 1970s. Their consulting clients have included Avon, Bristol-Myers, Estée Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Revlon and Cover Girl, among others. They reside in San Juan Capistrano, CA and maintain an office in New York City. For more information, they can be reached at or
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