The Fashion Institute of Technology’ annual Capstone presentation held earlier this month was an eye-opening examination of beauty in the digital world. Candidates for the Master of Professional Studies degree in the college’s Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management (CFMM) program shared their visions for the future of consumer product marketing in three key areas of the digital sphere, including Digital Analytics, Digital Marketing, and Digital Commerce.
FIT’s CFMM master’s degree participants are rising executives in the beauty industry who are recommended by their companies, and each year the graduating class presents in-depth research and forward thinking proposals and predictions to the industry. This year’s research was conducted in conjunction with Google, Inc., and with contributions from leading global digital technology and business experts, with the support of the event sponsor, Beiersdorf North America.
Professor Stephan Kanlian, who recalled the first discussions surrounding the creation of the CFMM program 14 years ago, expressed his enthusiasm for the result, noting in particular, the success of the Beauty Think Tank, in which students and industry experts share a partnership.
“It’s hard to believe this program has entered its teen years and by every benchmark has met or exceeded all of our expectations,” said Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president, Fashion Institute of Technology, who noted that computers were just beginning to arrive on desks at the college when the program began 14 years ago. “We are now keenly aware that our children and our grandchildren are technologically savvy, so it’s particularly important to me that our students have chosen this digital theme,” she said.
Beiersdorf executives were more than happy to play a role in this year’s Capstone event.
“Beiersdorf was honored to serve as this year’s title sponsor of the FIT Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management graduate program,” said Bill Graham, president, Beirsdorf North America. “Not only did we celebrate the graduation of two of our company’s brightest managers, we supported a one-of-a-kind program that promotes innovation and unprecedented collaboration within our highly competitive industry.”
He also noted that the students’ presentation represented the culmination of two years of hard work that is both inspiring and actionable for use in the future.
“At Beiersdorf, we constantly strive for customer satisfaction. Consumers’ digital resources and accessibility continue to expand exponentially, so it is imperative that our industry understands current best practices and, most importantly, identifies and implements emerging trends within the space. Whether that’s communicating more efficiently with our customers in real-time, improving social media and consumer/brand engagement, or applying customer feedback to product development, we feel the digital impact on all areas of our business,” said Graham.
Keynote speaker, Joe Rospars, Chief Digital Strategist for the Obama campaigns, and CEO and founding partner of Blue State Digital, quoted President Obama in his remarks, stating, “The future belongs to young people with an education and the ability to invent,” adding that Obama’s campaign successes may be seen and utilized across industries.
“To build relationships between individuals and between industry, you have to set yourself up for success. The digital age offers the opportunity to have an individual relationship on a personal level at scale,” said Rospars, adding several points of distinction in the digital sphere.
First, you have to know how to carry the notion of the individual person and the content of the conversation. This builds the community around a brand. Second, whether it’s a sale or content consumption, it’s key to know how to make that social. Finally, he introduced the notion of balance, citing the blending of science and marketing.
“To create a balance of art and science and have them live in harmony is key. It’s not just adapting to technology,” said Rospars. “It’s how the organization is going to relate to people that is intimate, social, and directed toward people. This is a leadership challenge, a social challenge, and a cultural challenge,” he concluded.
Students Examine a Three-Pronged Approach
Digital Analytics was the first area explored in the graduate students’ presentation, and focused on six key areas of impact for big data. The research showed how digital analytics will help grow the beauty industry’s data-centricity and customer personalization. The group’s study explores ways that big data can identify new customer needs, validate concepts, increase successful innovation, optimize inventory distribution, track consumption and diversion, and build stronger customer relationships. These categories are applied to a new product launch model called Beauty 2020.
With 31 billion devices in use around the world, their users’ influence cannot be underestimated; and velocity, volume, and variety, become the three important aspects of big data.
“Big data is the new oil,” said Jacqueline Chan, brand management, Coty Beauty, and graduate presenter, noting that big data will have an undeniable impact on beauty. It was suggested that wearable, edible, and embeddable devices are on the rise, and that sensors could one day be embedded into beauty products. For example, biological data could be loaded into data mines, and companies could analyze the data and develop products based on their findings. Students reminded attendees that 80% of beauty innovations fail because they didn’t meet consumer needs.
The second area of exploration was digital marketing. The power of micro-targeting and micro-engagement in a micro-marketing world was captured in a new media framework called m^3, which highlights marketing’s evolution from sending the same message to all consumers to individualized, personalized outreach conducted in real time on multiple platforms. The study shows what it takes to succeed in today’s micro-marketing, zero-friction environment, sharing the advances required in media, metrics, and management to succeed with m^3 marketing.
“This type of innovation and accountability is going to be essential as we move business forward. In the end, everything has to be measurable,” said Jeanine Shao Collins, executive vice president and chief innovation officer, Meredith 360, advisor to the Digital Marketing Group.
It was suggested by student presenters that the beauty industry start acquiring data analysts now to enhance their focus on business possibilities, and ultimately capture the big data, with its wealth of information and insight to create a paradigm shift that will result in human centered marketing and human-centered brands, using m^3 micro-targeting to predict consumer desires, and micro-engagement, to give consumers what they want, when they want it, and at the moment that matters most.
Digital commerce was the third and final aspect of the presentation, which suggested the use of a high touch business model that conveys the fluid cycle of commerce, through successful digital usage. Its analysis of convenience, curation and customization, referred to as “infinite commerce,” was designed to provide insight into how consumers will be able to make purchases from anywhere and how brands can sell everywhere. The immediacy of “beauty on demand” creates infinite points of sale and instant gratification for customers. Among its objectives was the ability to elevate the in-store experience with digital devices at countertop that serve up products based on personal needs, enable one click purchase, and same day delivery.
Whoever figures this out will have created the opportunity to establish infinite points of sale,” according to presenters. Integral to the success of this goal, will be the orchestration of image, sound and digital recognition to enable instant purchase, and ease of fulfillment, perhaps with an online retailer, like ebay or Amazon. Ultimately it was suggested that in order for this, and other forward-looking outcomes to succeed, it is necessary to embrace new metrics with ideation and iteration, embrace one to one marketing, and partner strategically.
Predictions from the Research
Several forward-looking goals and predictions coalesced around the students’ research, including leveraging artificial intelligence, utilizing facial recognition, and predictive analytics technology to revolutionize the in-store experience. Also suggested was the use of motion-activated technology to allow consumers to virtually browse the aisles of products located anywhere in the world, and make purchases directly from interactive screens in one’s own home.
Micro-targeting, enabled by data and technology would allow brands to create personalized communications, with the result, micro-engagement, increasing the individual consumers’ lifetime value for brands. Return on Learnings (ROL) will replace Return on Investments (ROI) as a new real time metric to track and drive brand value; and sensors molded into product packaging could track consumer usage behavior.
The student award ceremony and reception concluded the evening’s festivities, with Professor Stephan Kanlian delivering the final address, congratulating all the graduates and winners of special distinction, and noting that Unilever will be next year’s program sponsor.