Increasingly the landscape in which brands find themselves is changing faster than ever. How do you keep pace with your target market in a world of absolute fluidity and continuous hyper-change? No sooner do you spot a familiar landmark—your target market—than it is gone. No sooner do you have a fix on where your brand should be listed than the horizon rapidly changes again.
This year’s annual Beauty Symposium brought together an expert panel of speakers to explore these issues. The theme was FACE, PLACE, and SPACE—a way of looking at how to give a brand a sense of solidity when everything—the target market, the retail landscape, the competitive set, its method of communicating—is moving and changing around it and at a speed that is disorientating.
The three most vital fundamentals for a brand’s success:
FACE. Every brand has to be diamond sharp in its personality and how that is expressed. It needs to have consistency in its tone of voice and visual assets. We recognize faces, and your target market needs to recognize yours. We like faces that are truthful and honest, that don’t exaggerate and tell it like it is.
PLACE. Know your target market—you will be astonished at how many new and established brands we see that are unable to answer that simple question. Know where your target resides both for information and the likely place of purchase, and plan to be there. As we often say to clients, “It’s not about your brand, it’s about your audience.”
SPACE. Build space around your brand so that it occupies a place that is unique. Critically question why your brand is different, how it genuinely benefits the consumer, and why it is better than its competitive set. Be honest—if answering these questions is difficult and you cannot build space, then maybe you need to work more on developing your brand and its personality. Consumers and buyers will see through anything that is a me-too brand or a brand that has no real reason for being.
So how do FACE, PLACE, and SPACE fit into the realities of the UK beauty market?
- Every beauty category is saturated. Spend 5 minutes in a world-class store like Selfridges and you’ll see the sheer number of brands fighting for attention is overwhelming. Brand blindness—the inability to distinguish between one brand and another—sets in quickly. You need to make sure your brand’s FACE is recognized and has a unique SPACE surrounding around it.
- The UK consumer is promotionally literate, wants instant results, is celebrity obsessed, loves to browse, and is increasingly cynical about the results brands claim. She will shop for shower gel in Tesco, nail color in Superdrug, lipsticks in Harvey Nichols, and Amazon for premium. There are no rules anymore irrespective of age—except to be where your target market expects to find you. We call that PLACE.
Example A: If you are in the male grooming market, you should be aware men no longer shop where you expected them to. They buy online, at their barbers, or in specialist retailers, very rarely making their own purchase in-store. It’s about your brand being in the right PLACE—if it’s not, all of your marketing and communication effort is wasted.
Example B: Despite the rigid structure of the market, there are more opportunities than ever for niche and new brands to secure routes to market. Online retailers like Not On The High Street, ASOS, and Groupon are now determined to grow a strong beauty business as are T.J. Maxx and specialists like My Showcase and Beauty Mart. It’s not the way of the past, but those retailers are exactly where your target market might be shopping. This again is about PLACE.
- Buyers are approached by 5-10 new brands a week. They are, particularly so in bricks ‘n’ mortar, becoming increasingly risk adverse. Less so for the major e-commerce sites, but even they are becoming fatigue-weary of new brands. FACE and SPACE helps distinguish your brand from others and provides a compelling reason for a buyer to take a risk.
There are of course many other factors that build brand success, but getting FACE, PLACE, and SPACE right helps build stability when all is changing around you. It’s like building a house. Think of FACE, PLACE, and SPACE as the foundations—they need to be deep and strong enough to support the architecture and building of your brand.
Contributors to The Beauty Symposium were:
Michael Van Clarke – Hairdresser, Entrepreneur and Founder, 3’’ more inches
Kelly Kovack – Founder, Brand Growth Management, BeautyMatter & Odin, New York
Lara Morgan – Owner, Scentered, and Founder, Pacific Amenities
Crispin Reed – Founder, Skyscraper Consulting.
Paula Zuccotti – Ethnographer, Photographer, and Trends Forecaster