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Direct Response Marketing

Beauty’s Best Face Forward

1 Apr, 2013 By: Jackie Jones Response

Three newer entries in the beauty and personal care space are using all forms of DR to make waves.


Despite any economic struggles or financial pitfalls, the beauty industry has always fared well. Now, as consumers come back from pinching pennies, the industry continues to be one of the fastest growing. Beauty brands keen to direct response strategies are already ahead of the game in targeting consumers to great success, including Jabu’she North America Inc., M3K Beauty and Holster Brand.

On average, women ages 18 and older spend $144 on beauty products each year, and while 45 percent of women cut back on skincare, beauty and cosmetics during the recession, 14 percent are already spending more, according to reports from The Beauty Co. Additionally, households earning $75,000 and more had an increase in cosmetics and beauty spending from 2008 through 2010, according to recent reports on the industry from consumer market researchers The NPD Group. As more consumers are willing to spend, more brands are taking notice.

“I think a major challenge in the beauty market is differentiating your products from others and really standing out,” says Erin Balogh, president of Holster Brand and inventor of its main product, the Hot Iron Holster. “Direct response gives you the opportunity to educate the consumer about your product by demonstrating how it works, what makes it unique and how it will make the consumer feel and look better.”

A Hot Idea

Holster Brand’s birth came about in spring 2009, when Balogh — who owns the company with her husband, Guy — did what many in direct response do best: turn a real-life problem into a product loved by all.

“My pedestal sink in my bathroom can be blamed for the creation of the Hot Iron Holster,” she says. “I was growing more and more frustrated trying to get ready at this sink every morning. It was a hot and delicate balancing act every time I went to set down my curling iron or flat iron on the sink’s edge. I tried to find something I could buy to hold my styling tools but there wasn’t anything available. Since I couldn’t find anything to help me out, I decided to make it. I went to my kitchen and grabbed a silicone oven mitt and some hot pads, and sewed them together to create my first prototype.”

After using her invention every day for nearly five months, Balogh talked to her husband, and the two realized she may be onto something.

“We felt that if there was something out there like this to buy, we would, but there wasn’t,” she says. “It’s a bigger problem than most people think, and we felt that consumers needed this product.”

The Hot Iron Holster is a heat-resistant silicone product that holds curling irons, flat irons or hair dryers. It is made of 100-percent silicone and consists of two parts: a roomy pocket for holding styling tools and a flap that grips household surfaces. Combined, they provide a solution for managing hot styling tools and hair accessories. Because the Hot Iron Holster is heat resistant to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, it safely holds hot styling tools while they are warming up, in use and cooling down, Balogh adds.

Holster Brand applied for a patent in fall 2009, debuted the invention at the Housewares Show in Chicago in March 2011, and offered the final Hot Iron Holster product to consumers for sale in August 2012, according to Balogh, who recently received the patent on the product. Before breaking into the more traditional DRTV market, Holster Brand relied heavily on social media to connect with consumers and get the word out about the Hot Iron Holster.

“The Hot Iron Holster is using social media advertising to market to consumers. We run Facebook ads to drive more ‘Likes’ and post Facebook offers to drive sales to the website. We have found that having a solid baseline of fans helps to amplify the visibility of the Facebook offers,” Balogh says. “Social media seemed like the most appropriate way to gauge interest and spread the word easily about the product. Our main demographic is younger girls, and those customers were on social media. It was a great sounding board to get the product out there and get feedback.”

In November 2012, Holster Brand posted a Black Friday/Cyber Monday offer, which generated a high redemption rate on the website. In December, it offered free shipping through a Facebook offer, which helped to increase sales by 92 percent from November, according to Balogh. The company also promoted free shipping offers through Promoted Tweets on Twitter, which generated $1.25 per click and a 2.48-percent click-through rate, Balogh added. Even through that process, Balogh says she knew DRTV was going to be part of their marketing strategy.

“We knew DR marketing would be extremely helpful in selling our product since it is so demonstrable,” Balogh says. “The Hot Iron Holster is a new concept in hot styling tool storage and demonstrating how it works makes a huge impression on a customer. The visual resolution of a common problem resonates well with audiences and the bright colors and messages are sexy and fun!”

In February, Holster Brand had its first foray on television, airing an eight-minute segment on QVC. The result was better than expected, Balogh says.

“We generated $3,600 per minute and almost sold out by the end of the segment,” she says. “QVC will be inviting us back and has made a few new color suggestions for the holsters. We consider this QVC segment a success, and we were very successful for the day and time, according to QVC. We are thrilled!”

A Fresher Face

Kim Johnston, president of M3K Beauty, also found her way into the industry through a personal experience she turned into a professional opportunity.

“I was working very long hours and traveling quite a lot in 2011. I passed by one of those dreaded magnifying mirrors they have in hotel rooms, caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and was horrified. I had been using a very expensive major brand for years, but my skin was tired, with pores enlarged and dull,” Johnston says. “A few days later, I was watching the Dr. Oz show and saw a show about Matrixyl 3000, which he claimed to be the best and most critical anti-aging ingredient. As a big Dr. Oz fan, I did a bit of research on other ingredients he swore by, combined them, added 15 more, and went to my manufacturer. We worked on a formula for 12 months and came up with M3K.”

M3K Beauty’s face washes include Dirty Boy for Fabulous Men, Bare Faced & Fabulous Face Wash, and many others. The company launched in October 2012 “I will not sell anything unless I use it, I love it and it works,” Johnston says. “I’m proud of my products and can stand behind them. We have recently added our new M3K Anti-Aging Hand Cream which has also impressed everyone who has tried it. Our products work, are at an affordable price point, and I have yet to receive anything by positive feedback from those who have tried it.”

M3K Beauty is using a variety of tried-and-true direct response platforms, including print advertising, giveaways and social media. Magazine features, broadcast and online media placements have helped increase the brand’s visibility and consumer awareness and boosted SEO organically, according to Johnston.

“Because we are new to the cosmetic industry, our first priority is to show people that this is a range that actually works,” Johnston says. “Word of mouth and recommendations from top beauty bloggers, along with testimonials from major celebrities, have really established us since first launching six months ago. Now that people are becoming more familiar with the M3K Beauty brand, we are reaching out to beauty editors and looking at some exciting advertising campaigns to keep our products at the forefront of the anti-aging industry.”

Additionally, 10 percent of the company’s profits go toward Infinite Giving Group, a nonprofit created by Johnston that helps women and children in need.

“We will be getting the kids back safely in school, paying their rent for 12 months, all their bills, new clothes and grooming and, most importantly, retaining for 12 months before placing them in a working position,” Johnston says. “With M3K Beauty itself, we are in negotiations with some major salons and hope to be reaching more people over the next 12 months. We hope the change the lives of those who desperately need help.”

Bridging Continents

Jabu’she is another beauty brand utilizing direct to seamlessly transition from the Swedish market to the U.S.

“At Jabu’she, we understand the psychological effects of aging and the importance of connecting with a market of individuals who seek anti-aging products,” says Lindsey Carnett, CEO and president of Jabu’she North America. “Through online platforms like Zulily and publications like Marie Claire, we find our target market and market influencers who believe in Jabu’she. Surprisingly, traditional tactics like word of mouth are also helping Jabu’she’s launch into the industry of popular skin care products. Jabu’she utilizes social media platforms to connect with consumer and is invested in the direct response industry as well. Although we are available for sale through jabushenorthamerica.com, we strive to make our products easily accessible with the whole range of Jabu’she products available for purchase through Amazon.”

Jabu’she products are formulated with ingredients that have been extensively researched with skincare innovation in mind, and include 24-Hour Cream in Original and Soft, 24-Hour Eye Cream, Eye Lift Serum, Cleansing Lotion, Facial Tonic, Anti-Wrinkle Serum and Moisture Mask. Jabu’she will continue to use direct response in the future, according to Carnett.

“We will be continuing our launch efforts via home shopping with high-end channels like ShopNBC to raise awareness about Jabu’she as well as direct-to-consumer sales via jabushenorthamerica.com,” she says. “Gaining a following is just as important to our brand as it is to others on the market. With that in mind, we are looking for investors to fund a DRTV commercial since there’s obviously a very sexy story behind the creation of Jabu’she from Sweden, along with published clinical research to back it up.”

Thus far, Jabu’she has had a very successful transition to the American beauty market.

“We’re already seeing traction with online sales and repeat customers, so it is obvious that the product works and is meeting the needs of the target demographic,” Carnett says. “In such a huge U.S. beauty market, it can be hard to turn a product into a household name, but Jabu’she is on the fast-track to becoming a part of woman’s skincare routine. We look forward to its expansion into multiple sectors. We are focusing on expanding consumer awareness via national print magazines, DRTV, home shopping, social media buzz, online retailers, social media advertising and press events.”

Looking Ahead

The future looks promising for beauty brands that stay invested in direct response.

“We are working with QVC on a future segment, so we definitely plan to stay in the direct response arena since we found such great success already,” says Balogh of Holster Brand. “We also plan on continuing with social media advertising to help drive traffic and sales and see social conversions at work. We will use more calls to action through Facebook offers and have embedded the Facebook Conversation Tracking code on our shopping cart to identify social conversions in our Facebook advertising reports.”

“Extra countertop space is always in style and women want things that will make their daily routine easier and help them look their best,” she adds. “The Hot Iron Holster team will be busy this year. In addition to being featured on QVC, we will be participating in more industry tradeshows and media outreach, and we are continuing to work on expanding further into the U.S. retail market. We are also extending our product line with two new products this spring and another in the fall. In May, we will also be visiting Tokyo to launch our product in the Japanese market.”

“I don’t feel that I have been seeing enough change and innovation,” notes Johnston of M3K Beauty. “I still see the major players — the standard brands that have controlled the market for years — at the top. There are some amazing new companies out there with creams that really work, but they cannot afford to compete with the billion-dollar advertising industry. M3K is the ‘uncorporate corporation.’ We like to give away, we watch our environmental footprints, and we believe big time in giving back to the community. Our motto is, ‘It has to be about more than profit.’”

“There are certain inevitable challenges in this dynamic marketplace,” Carnett of Jabu’she continues. “Unique products are always outweighed by similar products that do just a little bit more. DR helps beauty brands overcome such challenges by using demonstration to help educate the consumer. This is what we hope to achieve in a long-form commercial.” ■


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