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Left To Your Own Devices



Should an electric beauty tool be part of your brand's future?



By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor



Published July 6, 2012
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It may be a small sector, but the beauty device market is hot, hot, hot, say industry experts at the HBA Global Expo 2012 in New York City.
 
An opening-day session was devoted to this fast-growing category; it was moderated by Wendy Lewis, president of Wendy Lewis & Co. Ltd. Global Aesthetics Consultancy and included Amy Ziegler, global personal care analyst, Mintel Beauty & Personal Care, and Dan Edwards, SVP, senior vice president of Sagentia’s consumer and industrial products division.
 
 

According to Zeigler, the ‘kinetique’ trend—the mash-up of electricity and energy in beauty—is helping drive the devices market.
 
The good news for marketers is that while only a small percentage of consumers have tried at-home anti-aging devices, a larger group is willing to take one for a spin. Specifically, Mintel’s numbers show that while only 4% of US women have one, 28% said they would try one.
 
“What is your devices agenda?" asked Dan Edwards of Sagentia. "Rethink your brand bundle and figure out if devices could and should be part of it.”
 
According to Edwards, a combination of factors is helping drive the market for devices, including the fact that women are more comfortable with technology in general.
 
“It’s not just men and geeks,” he said.
 
In addition, prices for the technology have been steadily declining, making it possible to build these devices at lower cost.
 
But the device itself need not be a revenue stream, according to Edwards.
 
“The business model isn’t about margin on product; it is about engaging in service and relationship,” he said. “You don’t need to make margin on device sale.”
 
According to Edwards, the device doesn’t spell the demise of consumable products.
 
“Don’t think of it in isolation; think about it as selling goop,” quipped the engineer.
 
“We should be selling them with consumables bundled. The consumable will always be there—the lotion or paste. That is where your margin is.”

According to Edwards, the next generation of devices will offer a level of diagnostic technology. “This is important as it allows you to personalize the action of the device for the individual, rather than a generic product,” he said. And, it can help you make a closer connection with customers.
 
Edwards showed a video of the device his company helped Unilever launch, the Dove Advanced Diagnostics Device. It measures the hair and a displays a score on LED screen, which a Dove rep then uses to recommend a suitable hair product.
 
According to to Edwards, there’s a level of truth for the consumer that comes from having a diagnostic element. This kind of “brand activation” tool, he said, engages customers and increases customer trial.

He suggested companies figure out the consumer proposition they want to gain with the device, and know that the technology is at hand.
 
“Technology isn’t the barrier; it is there to be had,” he said. For the consumer, the technology’s value is the efficacy it delivers. “You can do stuff with energy you can’t do with chemistry,” Edwards noted.
 
In addition, the data that can come from the device’s diagnostic capabilities can bulk up a firm’s R&D databank.
 
“Knowing your customer—that is a level of R&D insight you didn’t have before.”


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