Market Focus: Beauty Product Buyers
A Beauty of a Market
Even before Cleopatra made famous her kohl-rimmed eyes, women the world over sought out lotions, creams and powders to put their best face forward. And throughout the centuries, the desire for beauty products has only grown.
The cosmetics industry basically is divided into three categories: skincare, haircare and color cosmetics. Citing research from Datamonitor, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine puts the total cosmetic industry at $124 billion, with sales expected to top $145 billion by 2005. It also points to skincare and color cosmetics as industry growth areas, with estimated sales of $31 billion and $22.5 billion, respectively.
Many Faces, Many Shades
Frank van der Ree, vice president of marketing at Yves Rocher, a direct marketer of plant-based cosmetics in Exton, Pa., estimates that women ages 15 and older spend on average approximately $342 a year on beauty products.
Demographics point to a decidedly female market, but that’s pretty much where these individuals’ similarities end. Cosmetic buyers are as diverse as the products they buy. Moisturizers, anti-aging preparations, eye makeup, lip color and more are available as natural or chemical-based products, at virtually every price point, for every skin type, and through every sales channel.
So why would companies want to reach women in search of beauty products through a direct channel as opposed to a retail environment?
Although there are some notable exceptions, such as Ulta.com and drugstore.com, that have cashed in on the 24/7 availability of the Internet, many of the beauty products sold via direct channels are not your average drugstore cosmetics. For example, when Bliss launched its catalog in the late 1990s, it did so in part to make available its spa-quality products to customers who couldn’t visit its New York spa.
While selling beauty products via direct channels makes your product available to a larger audience, it does present some hurdles. One of the cosmetics industry’s biggest challenges to selling beauty products via direct channels is overcoming consumer reluctance to purchase fragrances they can’t smell, or shades of cosmetics they can’t see firsthand.
According to Yves Rocher’s van der Ree, the key is to sample products as much as you can. “While samples are by far the most successful,” says van der Ree, his company also uses scent strips in its upfront marketing materials in addition to the product samples inserted in customer packages.
Van der Ree also notes that Yves Rocher makes certain its product descriptions are as accurate and as descriptive as possible.
A Multichannel Market
Most marketers of beauty products use multiple channels to reach their audience. In addition to monthly catalog mailings, Yves Rocher’s marketing mix includes package inserts, magazine inserts, e-commerce and e-mail marketing. While it operates retail stores in Canada, it has none in the United States. Roughly 60 percent of its sales in both the United States and Canada are made through direct channels.
Celebrity make-up artist Alexis Vogel has found infomercials successful for selling her brand of cosmetics. According to Linda Santaite of Mokrynski & Associates, which manages several cosmetic buyer lists including the Alexis Vogel buyer file, the infomercials appeal to a customer “to take action to look her best and [emphasize] the need to buy the entire product line to have the right look.” Alexis Vogel info-mercial buyers spend an average of $200 per order, while its catalog buyers only spend about $80.
“The important thing is to target women who are interested in looking their best and have a track record of shopping for personal items via the method you are approaching them with,” Santaite adds.
A Natural Affinity
When it comes to list selection, aside from choosing a file with a primarily female audience, the criteria will be age and offer, according to Adrea Rubin, CEO of Adrea Rubin Marketing, a New York-based list brokerage and management firm that manages the Yves Rocher masterfile.
The average price point of your products also is a factor in list selection. For example, the typical Bliss buyer is a female between the ages of 30 and 55, who is affluent and in search of boutique-quality beauty products. According to Brian DeLaite, executive vice president of list management at ALC of NY, which manages the Bliss catalog file, because Bliss sells to such a niche market—and not many beauty product files have a viable circulation quantity with a similar profile and price points—it has to look outside its vertical market for lists to rent. DeLaite says Bliss first looks for lists with a demographic fit in categories such as women’s apparel, upscale gifts and home furnishings. List selection, he says, has more to do with finding files of products that capture the same lifestyle.
More Than Skin Deep
Because this is such a diverse market, beauty product buyer files can be successfully mailed by a wide range of marketers. Cosmetic buyers are viable prospects for marketers that sell women’s apparel, jewelry, home furnishings, gifts and other general merchandise. For instance, mailers such as Allure magazine, Brylane Home, Goods & Wares and Walter Drake all have rented the Beauty Boutique catalog file.
Many cosmetic buyer lists are getting secondary usage from fundraisers, particularly those with buyers of natural or organic cosmetics, who might have an affinity with environmental causes.