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Exploring Brand Equity In Cosmetics

January 31, 2013

According to the most recent Harris Poll EquiTrend study, even with all the thrills of beauty counters and makeup artists, prestige cosmetics brands are not necessarily earning the highest brand equity scores. In fact, data from this assessment of more than 1,500 product, service and lifestyle brands show that lower priced, mass-market cosmetics are generally performing comparatively well on key equity measures.

Origins was a leader in a recent Harris study.

“When we compare all the cosmetics brands irrespective of category, mass-market brands perform very well when compared to their prestige counterparts, particularly traditional department store brands like Estée Lauder and Elizabeth Arden,” said Joan Sinopoli, a SVP and senior consultant with Harris Interactive’s Custom Solutions Group.

This finding is borne out in the dynamic between Origins Cosmetics, the Prestige Cosmetics Brand of the Year, and Mass-Market Cosmetics Brand of the Year Physicians Formula Cosmetics.

In addition to being the top-ranked brand in its category, Physicians Formula’s equity score outpaces that of the more high-end Origins brand.

Harris contends Physicians Formula is a brand to watch; not only is it a clear equity leader in the mass-market arena, but it maintains that leadership across most measures of “consumer connection” and “brand momentum.”

The dynamic among prestige cosmetics is quite different. Origins emerges as one of three similarly rated brands, but looking across three key metrics—”equity,” “consumer connection” and “brand momentum”—no one brand can claim preemptive leadership.

“The variability in the prestige market does add to the impression that it is more niche; each brand has certain strengths regardless of how much or how little traditional marketing it does,” continued Sinopoli.

“Physicians Formula may be a case for how clear differentiation and social media marketing can help boost a brand to a leadership position in the mass market.”

In its Harris Poll EquiTrend debut, Origins outranked study veterans including Shiseido Cosmetics along with fellow newcomers M•A•C and Bare Escentuals.

“Among classic department store brands, only Shiseido is in the top five in overall equity. Perhaps it’s the lingering recession; perhaps it’s the continuing outflow of these brands through discount beauty and health channels. Regardless of the reason, the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend study indicates that just being present at a department store counter is not enough to maintain allure with the general population, particularly a younger generation raised on specialty retail,” Sinopoli said.

Meanwhile, a generation of premium-plus brands that more tightly control their distribution channels has stolen the spotlight.

Using brand positioning that aligns with the prevailing industry trend of “nature-meets-science” and “skin care vs. color cosmetics,” Origins shined with the top score due to a very good showing across two major elements of brand equity: quality and purchase consideration. However the brand posted a mediocre familiarity score.

“Physicians Formula Cosmetics’ cosmeceutical or quasi-clinical positioning helps it appeal to a sophisticated cosmetics buyer, and they are in the right segments, with anti-aging and mineral wear. They even have some fun with a mood-boosting product line,” said Sinopoli.

“Perhaps most importantly, Physicians Formula is building intimate relationships with their consumers, as their tagline—’Your beauty. Our passion. We promise.’—suggests. This tagline could be an example of the Fit metric in action.”

Among the factors that appear to be driving Physicians Formula’s brand of the year ranking were trust and social engagement. The company is known as having a “masstige” niche and was recently acquired by Markwins, as previously reported in Happi.

“Harris Poll EquiTrend’s methodology shows us that 18% of those consumers rating the brand have interacted with it in the social media sphere. This may well be their secret sauce,” noted Sinopoli.

More info: www.harrisinteractive.com
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