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Direct Response Marketing

Searching for the Fountain of Youth

1 Apr, 2014 By: Bridget McCrea Response

All generations of consumers are looking for new ways to look and feel better. DRTV marketers in the beauty and personal care category continue to help them achieve these — and other — goals.


A stalwart in direct response marketing, the beauty and personal care category didn’t disappoint in 2013 and is already showing signs of more growth this year. Populated by products like Wen, Tommie Copper, Meaningful Beauty and no! no! — and pitched by celebrities like Montel Williams, Alyssa Milano and Cindy Crawford — the category includes a broad selection of items with a simple goal in mind: to make people look better and feel better about themselves.

Those efforts are paying off. According to The NPD Group Inc.’s BeautyTrends® Direct report, the nation’s prestige beauty sector (defined as products sold mainly in U.S. department stores), grew by 5 percent in 2013, while the skincare and makeup categories each experienced healthy gains of 7 percent. The direct-to-consumer channel grew 19 percent in 2013 and helped to drive growth for the beauty industry for the year. “Beauty was among a handful of industries showing growth in 2013,” said Karen Grant, NPD’s vice president and senior global industry analyst, in the report.

“Consumers continue to struggle with lower income levels, but the global economic environment continues to stabilize,” Grant continued. “The social trends all around us indicate an improving outlook and a willingness to invest when the associated risk is low; this is a real opportunity for our industry.”

According to NPD, today’s consumers are interested in value, but they are also willing to invest in premium-priced offerings. For example, while fragrance sales were flat in 2013, sales of fragrances priced at $100 and higher increased by 30 percent (in total dollars). Face makeup priced at $60 and up increased 28 percent, and skincare for the face gained 15 percent in dollar-on-dollar sales.

Appliances that address specific personal health and care issues are also hot right now. In its most recent Personal Care Appliances: A Global Strategic Business Report, Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA) credits a growing awareness of personal health and a focus on personal grooming with driving the personal care appliances market.

Projected to reach 600 million units sold annually by 2018, the market includes hair dryers and curling irons, massagers, trimmers, electric toothbrushes, shaving systems, and myriad other products that help users attain their personal health goals. In terms of unit sales, GIA says hair care appliances represent the largest segment in the global personal care appliances market, and oral care appliances will experience the fastest growth during the next four years.

An important driver of today’s beauty and personal care segment are the nation’s 78 million aging Baby Boomers — a good portion of whom are looking for the fountain of youth and interested in products that may help them find it. Add the nation’s obesity challenges to the mix and it’s not hard to see why personal care products like the Ankle Genie have been successful on the airwaves and the web.

“Between the aging of America and our obesity problem, the need for products that make people feel good is only going to grow,” says Collette Liantonio, president at Concepts TV Productions in Boonton, N.J. She not only produced the Ankle Genie show but she also used the product herself after having leg surgery in early 2014. “Things like swollen ankles and calves are very uncomfortable problems for us Baby Boomers,” she says, “that DRTV marketers have an opportunity to help solve.”

It’s a Vanity Play
Call them vain, if you will, but the reality is that Americans care what they look like, how gracefully they age, and what others think about them. This deep-rooted need to look and feel good for as many years as possible is what drives the beauty and personal care machine to higher sales and profits every year. In particularly high demand right now, says Scott Badger, founder and CEO at KPI Direct in Portland, Maine, are products that smooth out wrinkles, diminish fine lines, minimize acne, oxygenate skin, or help ease physical aches and pains. “People are looking for alternatives,” says Badger, “and seeking out topicals, skin care, cosmetics, anti-aging products, and other solutions to their problems.”

Having worked with several major beauty and skincare marketers during the past few years, Badger says the best successes come when those sellers “layer” multichannel strategies into their DR campaigns. “This helps them create relevant brands over time,” says Badger, “and it’s particularly important in the personal care/consumables sector where — without multiple channels — you’re dead in the water.”

Marketers that break through the multichannel barrier tend to do well in the beauty and personal care category, which is not only in high demand but also “pretty healthy margin-wise,” says Badger. Marketers that understand their consumers and that provide emotional hugs in their quest to alleviate specific conditions, he notes, are usually best positioned to reap those benefits. Making the category even more attractive, he says, is the fact that it’s recession-proof for marketers that consistently produce relevant, useful products.

“You’ve got to have a great product and you have to advocate for it,” says Badger. By leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for example, both marketers and happy customers can spread the word about positive experiences from that new skin cream, acne solution, or piece of compression apparel. Consumers of this product category also need high levels of support, says Badger. They need to be able to return, exchange or get refunds easily and promptly, he notes, and get the help they need for whatever product they purchased.

“You have to create consumer advocacy and use multiple channels to get end users talking about their positive experiences; you want them to tell all of their friends,” says Badger. “When you can get that kind of buy-in on the front end — during the initial engagement — it converts into better brand awareness and maximum repeat purchase over time.”

Tackling the Multichannel Space
When developing their beauty and personal care campaigns, marketers are going beyond the basics and seeking out the most effective ways to connect directly with the consumers who benefit from their products. An increasing number of companies are using short-form versus long-form DRTV, says Kristy Pinand-Dumpert, Concepts TV’s vice president of sales and marketing, who also sees more marketers using free-trial offers versus hard price points.

And while producers aren’t necessarily selling products solely via YouTube yet, Pinand-Dumpert says her firm is using the platform to publish live demonstrations (without the need for time-lapsing) and to show full-length testimonials. “Anything that doesn’t fit into the short-form time allotment,” says Pinand-Dumpert, “we can now incorporate online.”

This multichannel approach also helps marketers work through the difficult task of standing out in the cluttered market. Skincare product shows can be particularly difficult to position for success, says Pinand-Dumpert, because they require extensive before-and-after shots to be believable. “We’re working within limited time frames with short-form,” she points out, “and it can be challenging to get the emotional buy-in that you need to get people to place an order.”

The hair care category also has become more difficult to penetrate, according to Pinand-Dumpert, due to the growing number of companies that are getting into the space. Those with lower price points seem to be thriving, she says, while those priced at premium rates tend to languish. “It’s definitely getting harder to make hair shows work,” she notes, “because there are just so many more firms trying out hair products than there were in the past. Breaking through the clutter is difficult.”

The Supporting Cast
Hair products may be a difficult category this year, but marketers of a product that supports the hair care trend have carved out a successful niche. On the market since 2012 and sold by Holster Brand, the Hot Iron Holster, a silicone styling iron holder, is sold via QVC and online. According to Erin Balogh, the company’s president, what started out as a personal solution to managing hot, fragile styling tools is on track to become a multi-product line this year.

Balogh says Holster Brand sold more than 50,000 holsters last year at an average price point of $18.50 (QVC’s current price for the product). In addition to the U.S., the company is selling its innovative product in Japan, South Korea, Australia, the U.K., and Canada. “The expansion we’ve seen over the last year has been very exciting,” says Balogh.

To boost sales and spread the word about its product virally, the firm uses social platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. “Facebook has been huge for us,” she notes.

This year, Holster Brand started selling a Hobby Holster for craft enthusiasts and, in March, it introduced a three-pocket “little holster” designed for use around the house. Balogh says home shopping sales have remained steady during the past year and says the educational aspect of TV makes it easier to demonstrate the unique product and show its usefulness.

“Once someone sees the product in use, it’s easy to see how simple and fun it is,” says Balogh, who adds that DRTV has also helped her nascent firm build early brand awareness for its innovative offerings. “The product itself is pretty simple, but people don’t always understand how it works because there’s nothing else quite like it. By selling via QVC, we’ve been able to chip away at that challenge.”

In looking at the beauty and personal care category as a whole, Balogh says there’s high demand for products that suit a real need. Pinand-Dumpert concurs, and says the perpetual desire to look and feel youthful and energetic isn’t going away anytime soon. And that desire isn’t limited to the Baby Boomer generation — both Generation X and Millennial consumers are following in their parents’ footsteps and seeking out new, promising solutions to their problems.

“On the whole, people are always going to want to find a way to look younger, style their hair a different way, and be more confident in their appearances,” says Pinand-Dumpert. “Because that need and desire will always be there, the beauty and personal care category will continue to grow and expand in ways that help buyers achieve those desires.” ■



About the Author: Bridget McCrea

Bridget McCrea

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