The Grayson Report

Digital Is the Final Point in Brand Enhancement

By Suzanne and Bob Grayson, Grayson Associates | September 3, 2009

There are five points in a star and five points in brand enhancement. Two recent columns looked at brand in enhancement. In May, we looked at engagement (p. 46). In the July (p. 46), we wrote about the price/value relationship, passion and sensory marketing. We now add the fifth point of the star—digital media. There is an urgent need to quickly harness digital media, and social networking. Both are expanding and accelerating dramatically.

It is the intensity of this need that warrants the star treatment. Digital should be priority No. 1 for every brand, with the focus on executing brand strategy using this revolutionary media in every part of the mix. Only the largest firms can afford to have an on-board digital maven, but that talent abounds in the market.

But digital is more than “let’s do a blog,” or “how do we get on MySpace or Facebook?”It is an integral part of the marketing plan, right alongside the features of the product, positioning, and advertising—literally, its own section of the annual plan. Here’s what the updated marketing mix sections should contain: Product, Positioning, Package, Display, Price, Promotion, Advertising, Digital, Public Relations, Sales, Channels and Service.

Within each section of the plan, those who consider “perceivable competitive advantage” and how “digital” might be executed will be ahead of the game. The goal in preparing the annual plan is to consider each part of equal importance. We defy you to find a successful product that doesn’t seriously consider all of the above.

Giving Up the Fight

When you think of the great brands that disappeared in the U. S.—Brylcreem, Vitalis, Hazel Bishop, Helena Rubinstein and more than we’d like to recall—there’s not much to do about these. They just gave up the struggle.

Then there are the current strugglers. Revlon with fragrance and Almay; Neutrogena with cosmetics; Pond’s and Nivea both with face care, with the latter already gone in the U. S.; Estée Lauder with Prescriptives. Then there’s the divested brands such as Unilever’s All detergent, P&G’s Folger’s, Crisco, Pert, Noxzema (and Max Factor) that just couldn’t make the P&G cut. All of which is not to be confused with small brands that are struggling primarily because they are: 1, without star potential; 2, underfinanced; 3, still largely unknown; 4, haven’t reached critical mass in distribution and 5, haven’t found their star.

We mean brands that have been around for years but continue to struggle. Our recent look at such brands—observational and anecdotal—has determined the causes. It’s hard to pick out the No. 1 reason, but you’ll get the idea.

1.Stuck in the mud. “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll get what you got.”That applies to the laboratory, the advertising agency and the product manager. They may not be “bad,” just not good enough to produce a competitive advantage which is perceivable (real or imagined) by the consumer. Beware, too that what works for another brand may not translate to the current situation. And above all, be wary of marketing’s “holy grail”—extensive reliance/over-dependence on research (larger companies don’t make a move without it), which will often have a moderating affect on inspiration—resulting in “good,” but not great enough to breakthrough the clutter.

2. No passion or real commitment. No one on the C-floor really committed it to its success. No, that’s not right; he or she wants it to succeed—but not enough to add to the budget, add to the people, push it to the front of the line.

3.It is just a bit off-center of the corporate strategy. P&G’s sales of its pharma business is a good example.

4.Finally, and sadly, too many marketers (and managements) confuse desire with probability.

There is no panacea but those few who have successfully rebuilt struggling older brands (e.g. Clean & Clear), have sought and found a part of the marketing mix that provided the jump-start passion for the brand. And what about that very old name, Aveeno, starting from a bath additive? J&J has a knack, wouldn’t you say? Inspiration has many origins. A new product, package, advertising, channel of distribution and need we add, digital? Ever the eternal optimists, we believe that it can be done.

☺Wish I Had Done That

The spread in July’s Glamour by Clean & Clear is a fine example of combining an engaging beauty editorial with products it doesn’t sell as the lead-in to its three cleansers. You can bet that if it was an Olay ad, the shades used would be from Cover Girl, and on the models themselves (missed opportunity for Neutrogena eye makeup). After the fun of the friendship experience and plenty of “how-to,” copy tells how to take it off.The ad is a stopper with high interest and information that clearly and simply promotes the cleansers’ benefits.A big plus: You can’t read it in the reproduction, but on the right side is “permission to try” with a free offer for Makeup Dissolving Wipes via a text to 467467. (Note to marketers joining the digital age, this promotion is handled by ShopText. You can check its website, and they’ll take care of you.) Surprisingly, Clean & Clear lost the opportunity to drive consumers to its own website by omitting it from the ad.

☺Wish I Had Done That

Dior teamed up with Nordstrom for an ad and promotion that makes abundant use of product benefit descriptions and permission-to-believe. It hooked up with Nordstrom’s beauty director, “Coach Joella” who shares some of her secrets. The parts are consumer Q&A, permission-to-believe, authority from a beauty director and Dior. A winning combination. Dior has been using editorial-type advertising like this for a while. If you see repeated use of a technique, it must be working.

New Product Ideas

There was a time when a stroll through Bloomies, or a trip to Europe might spark a product idea, but those times seem to have passed for two reasons. First, similar research by similar companies leads to similar ideas and second, a line extension is safer. That pretty much leaves the inspirational touchstone in the hands of trade shows. Trade shows? Yes, the right kind of tradeshow, that is. They are the only showcase for new and/or imaginative entrepreneurs with passion for their ideas. They forge ahead without fear of the marketplace. (What innocents!)

We attended Cosmoprof in Las Vegas in July and came away with dozens of pieces of literature and a couple of interesting samples. The show itself had 625 exhibitors and about 22,500 attendees—down about 10% from last year. But more importantly, it caters to the professional channel with most exhibitors showing finished goods. Many, many of them being unique.The reason: Too small for drug and department stores, not sophisticated enough for QVC or HSN. So that leaves spas and salons and Whole Foods. Oh yes, once in a while Sephora and Ulta.Thus, the natural gravitation to a “hair” exhibition, where a salon owner or manager can make a decision on the spot. Our suggestion: Mark down July 18, 2010 in Las Vegas. It’s well worth your time.And besides, it is Las Vegas.

Don’t forget the major conference on natural/organic/sustainable beauty—October 14-16 in Santa Monica, CA. More details at
About the Authors
Suzanne and Bob Grayson are respected, professional marketers, having spent their careers with the leading companies in the beauty industry before starting 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