Marion McDonald
Dec 15, 2010

Five things you need to know about winning in beauty marketing

Marion McDonald is MD of strategy and planning, Asia-Pacific at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, based in Hong Kong and has worked on major beauty brands across Asia for over 20 years.

Marion McDonald, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.
Marion McDonald, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

1. Recruit junkies.
Find people who are truly fascinated by what makes a woman return to the beauty counter always seeking the next miracle, despite the "drawer of broken dreams" at home. They border on category obsessive, love stalking beauty counters for what's new, devour beauty media and follow favourite beauty blogs. I turn away many job candidates with a vague interest in makeup and get excited by candidates who describe a fascination with the hopes and dreams of beauty. Ask a beauty junkie about the most exciting beauty insight they've discovered and watch their eyes light up!

2. Looks Matter
Style is substance in beauty: very likeable talent, distinctive and ownable visuals, incredible attention to key visuals, superb print quality and obsessive counter/sales channel presentation and management. Specialist stylists need to be hardwired into the creative process and beauty print production specialists own collateral output quality. Beauty junkies do details and obsess over retouching and quality execution. At Revlon China I sent the marketing team out to visit our counters every two weeks. Detailed field reports and photos of corrective action taken were used to hardwire this obsession into our team.

3. Prove it
On the surface, beauty care appears to sell on puffery and exaggerated claims. It's actually won with a distinctive RTB. P&G quantitative ad research over ten years concluded that a distinctive RTB had the strongest correlation to in market success in beauty care of any factor. Despite their seemingly scientific claims, many beauty brands don't drill deep enough to identify their distinctive RTB. Instead, they distract with celebrity spokesmodels, wild claims and highly unbelievable skin retouching. Unfortunately, beauty junkies and R&D development scientists don't always speak the same language. Doing the hard digging together with planning specialists is critical.

4. Spread it.
Getting someone else to say you're good is more effective than saying you're good. The power of influencers is very high in this category as women look for help to cut through the bullshit. Beauty brands need to be spend MUCH more time on public relations. Best-in-class brands have strong influencer relationships that allow them to deliver their messaging through more persuasive, credible, trusted experts. Your brand PR contact must be top of mind for editors & bloggers and must be the right beauty "type" (read: the beauty junkie). It's hard to persuade an editor if you clearly don't use the category.

5. Click it
Online advice and tuition is now the norm for advice in this category so get in touch with your inner digital diva. In many markets in Asia the leading beauty bloggers reach more followers than the leading beauty magazines. You must be following, engaging and informing them. Get them involved in your product development and campaigns. Send them lab samples and colour swatches for comment. Build fan communities online and involve them in your research. Online beauty content is very valuable to women. Michelle Phan is now the most subscribed female on YouTube for her make-up tutorials and beauty tip videos. She became a Lancome spokesperson for their popular beauty blog.

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