Five Brand Truths that Get Her Trying...and Buying

By Alisa Marie Beyer, The Benchmarking Company | September 15, 2008

Critical consumer insights about naturals and organics, and specifically the consumer’s feelings about nutricosmetics and cosmeceuticals, are translated into five real world brand elements that encourage her to try, buy and trust natural inside/out beauty products.

New natural or organic beauty brands seem to pop up in the aisles of our favorite cosmetic boutiques every week. The more memorable ones evoke an image or a promise that appeals to us. They seem to have a personality all their own; an identity we come to realize as a promise of value. In short, they’ve solidified themselves as a brand that we like—one that we can trust.
Building a strong beauty brand has never been so important. According to industry reports, the cosmeceutical market is expected to surpass $17.2 billion by 2010 with projections for continued growth. Women are shifting conventional cosmetics-buying behavior from just topical to “topical with clinical effect” and from simple applied-on products to a true inside/out beauty approach.
How can a new natural or organic beauty brand, or one that offers inside/out beauty benefits, differentiate itself from so many other similar-sounding product lines on the market? Successful brands, through a combination of the brand’s name, image, logo, colors and packaging, and importantly, the promise conveyed, will add value to a company or product in women’s minds and keep them coming back for more.
    Here are five thoughts to consider when building a solid brand in today’s natural/organic and inside/out beauty marketplace:

1. A great brand connects with emotions.

Women live in an emotional world. An effective brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. When women make their cosmetics-purchasing decisions they are, consciously or unconsciously, weighing the product and its price along with how they “feel” about the company that supplies it and its unique message.
This is apparent in the results of the Pink Report, “The Age of Naturals” (January 2008). In this report, in which more than 1800 cosmetics-buying women in the U.S. were surveyed, 45% said the main reason they buy natural/organic beauty products is because of their fear of chemicals. When later asked to check reasons (among many) why they purchase natural/organic beauty products, 80% said they were better for their skin and 64% said they didn’t want chemicals on their skin. Another 27% claimed the ingredients in traditional beauty products were harmful to their health.
A fear of chemicals has driven more women toward natural or organic beauty products, according to a TBC survey.
Traditional beauty product buyers are uneasy about ingredients too. Seventy-two percent feel the most appealing language when considering a natural beauty product is “-FREE,” meaning free of harmful chemicals. Women who purchase natural beauty products (74%) also feel this is the most appealing language when considering a natural beauty product. Traditional product buyers also warmed to terms such as clean (62%), hypoallergenic (62%) and pure (57%). 
Women who buy traditional products also felt the greatest emotional attachment to beauty product claims that clearly explain nature’s benefits in “soothing” wording that spoke of each natural ingredient’s health benefit. We tested seven actual on-the-market beauty brand product claims/wording and found that such soothing wording creates a powerful claim that 73% of all women (and 59% of traditional beauty product buyers—the largest percentage of claims believability for this group) find most believable. As the claims became slightly more complex, and then more scientifically/statistically oriented rather than naturally oriented, they became more “unbelievable” to all women. Emotion clearly rules the day, and her wallet.

2. A great brand is relevant and speaks to her.

It must meet what she wants and perform the way she wants it to. During the past few years, there has been much hype and many promises from cosmetics companies (and other companies in general) about brands. Propositions and promises were made and broken about how brands were positioned, how they performed and what the company’s real values were.
Bare Escentuals, and its sister brand, Bare Minerals, holds a special place in the hearts of consumers.
In “The Age of Naturals,” women made it clear which brand they feel has lived up to its hype, and then some. While mass brands are the most widely used, Bare Escentuals holds a special place in their hearts and wallets. Seventy-three percent of all women know the brand; 26% use it; 24% feel it is the best makeup product on the market—regardless of price—and 33% would recommend it to a friend (there were very few brands that women would not recommend at all).
Bare Escentuals steamrolled over the other 121 brands we tracked with 34% of all women indicating it was their favorite natural or organic beauty brand. The second place brand trailed with just an 8% favorite rating. Women gave reasons for their favorites as “it makes me look great” (71%); “it delivers what it promises” (70%); and “it is a brand I trust” (62%). Eighty-seven percent of women who indicated they had a favorite said they buy it most often. Bare Escentuals is relevant and speaks to them.  Loudly.

3. A great brand is built and must be differentiated from others.

Building a brand is a process that evolves over the course of months or years, not weeks. It takes time, education and performance matched with a compelling branding platform to really create a brand that is built to last and differentiates itself from the crowd.
The lack of brand differentiation, brand dominance and brand education is certainly clear in the case of nutricosmetics and cosmeceuticals in these early days of their existence. As reported in “The Age of Naturals,” cosmeceuticals are confusing for many women. When asked about cosmeceuticals, (topical products containing active ingredients that claim to provide a clinical benefit in addition to their traditional cosmetic function), 10% of all women said they understood what they were, and another 26% of all women said they use a cosmeceutical product right now.  When the 26% of women who claimed to use the cosmeceuticals were asked to list them, the list contained only a few actual cosmeceutical products; most were not. Answers ranged from Aveeno products with “active naturals” in them, to Avon, Almay, Clean & Clear and Proactiv, to cosmeceutical products by brands such as Borba.
When asked if they knew the definition of a nutricosmetic product, only 9% of all women said they did. The following explanation of nutricosmetics was then offered: “Some beauty brands have begun to co-brand ingestible ‘nutricosmetic’ products for you to eat or drink in coordination with your usual makeup or skin care routine for a better overall result.” Women were then asked if they used any nutricosmetic products, garnering a 3% response with brands cited such as Borba, Arbonne, Avon and Olay vitamin products.  
Clearly, brands that offer nutricosmetic or cosmeceutical benefits must educate the consumer on why the product differs from the task of a normal cosmetic product or vitamin pill. Taking the thought leader position and educating the consumer is a strong marketing opportunity for the manufacturer who truly wishes to differentiate and build its brands in these early days of inside/out beauty.

4. Any business activity that doesn’t add value to your brand dilutes it.

Good brand management means ensuring that all business activities are consistent with the company’s brand image, which, if created properly, promotes the most valuable attributes of the company. Advocating good corporate social responsibility can be very important in this respect.
Women are very in-tune to the socially and ethically responsible activities of corporate America, and they are becoming more interested in how responsible their beauty manufacturers are as well, according to “The Age of Naturals.” When considering purchase decisions, 80% of all women believe it is somewhat to extremely important for companies to be socially responsible and ecologically-minded. And while most women (87%) have never read a Corporate Social Responsibility report from a beauty manufacturer, 57% of those who hadn’t indicated they would be interested in doing so.
A beauty company’s behaviors that most impact a woman’s decision to buy a product from them include its stance on animal welfare. Nearly 70% of all women believe it is somewhat to extremely important that companies refrain from testing on animals; nearly 65% find it equally important the companies refrain from using any animal parts in products or packaging. Sixty-five percent also feel strongly that a company not pollute the environment, among other factors. Keeping your brand clean—and green—is especially important to the buyer of natural beauty products.

5. A great brand can transcend its category.

The common ground found among brands like Disney, Apple, Nike and Starbucks is that these companies made it a goal to be the protagonists for each of their entire categories. A great brand raises the bar—it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it’s the challenge to do your best in sports or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you’re drinking really matters.
Will your brand be the one to transcend the inside/out beauty category?

About the author:
Alisa Marie Beyer is president of The Benchmarking Company (TBC), a research and branding firm focused exclusively on the beauty industry.  TBC is the publisher of the Pink Report, consumer research reports driven by results from the women-only, permission-based Pink Panel and other sources.  For more details on The Age of Naturals report, call: 1 877 LOV-4TBC; Email: alisa@benchmarkingco.com; Website: www.benchmarkingco.com