Ever wonder how beauty marketers make products perfectly appealing? We got to sit in a room full of those guys while they discussed marketing and branding at WWD’s Beauty Forum earlier this week. Sound boring? On the contrary–it was completely fascinating. This is an industry full of really smart people who know how to get you to buy things, and they have very a unique window into women’s psyches.
We picked up a lot of insight and wisdom during the full-day forum and naturally we’ll share it.
1) Lynne Greene, the Global Brand President for Clinique, Origins, and Ojon, confirmed something that we’ve always suspected: The cosmetics industry thinks women don’t know what they want or need, so there is an opportunity to fill in this “white space.” Bet you didn’t know you needed bottom lash mascara until Clinique came along and offered it this year.
2) A panel featuring Allure’s EIC Linda Wells, Jane Hertzmark Hudis from Esteé Lauder, Deborah Roberts from ABC News, and Steven Teitelbaum, MD (a plastic surgeon) was the best part of the day. They touched on all the hot topics:
-On who is beautiful: In an Allure survey, 69% of respondents considered a mixed race/ethnic look to be the most beautiful. The concept of the blonde all-American girl is dead. (As Dr.Teitelbaum said, “We all know that mutts are healthier and look better.”)
-On plastic surgery: The media overplays the Heidi Montags of the world. No one knows who the real patients are. (And also, if you get a tummy tuck, don’t ask for a perfectly flat abdomen–it will masculinize you. Dr. Teitelbaum said a bit of convexity in a women’s abdomen is most attractive.)
-On the “ideal” shape: Most men are attracted to a heavier, curvier woman, but it’s become a social status thing to have a rail thin lady on your arm.
-On airbrushing: Linda Wells rather unapologetically said that it’s been a part of the industry since the dawn of portraits, but she tries to use it judiciously, like when a photographer airbrushed a “meatier” model’s thighs thinner. She almost delayed publication until the original thighs could be restored. Also, she said the most heavily airbrushed piece in Allure is probably her editor’s letter picture. (She looks fabulous in real life, BTW.)
3) Daniel Kaner, co-president of Oribe Hair Care, said that 70% of women color their hair. Also, salons lose their influence, and revenue, when “professional” hair care brands start selling outside of the salon. It’s the source of much aggravation in the industry. Just so you know, salons have an amazing 45 minute (or longer) stretch of uninterrupted time to market to you, and they use it.
4) Josie Maran, former model and founder of Josie Maran Cosmetics, a green brand, used to drive a huge Cadillac Escalade. Now, naturally, she drives a Prius. She also almost had her house repossessed when she first launched her company. Her secret to her success in this second career? “I always believed in myself.” (This may not have been the answer the savvy marketers in the room were looking for.)
While it’s hard to think rationally sometimes when you’re buying a miraculous new eye cream or an illuminator, remember that there’s a huge industry out there to figure out exactly what you need, so you don’t have to.