What does a new brand need to succeed?

Hi everyone,

I was thinking about this question the other day when I was talking to an industry peer, and I would love to hear from others as well.

In this heavily saturated industry, what does a new brand need to have in order to achieve any level of measurable success? 

We know we need to formulate quality products on our end that consumers will want to use and repurchase, but is the marketing and story more important than the formula? Equally as important?

What are those things that will separate a new brand from the rest of the bunch? Is it pure luck? Leveraging social media and influencers? Partnering with appropriate experts (derms, estheticians, etc). All of the above? 

I never really thought about this in much detail, as I have always been behind the scenes in the lab. But I am curious what you all think are the key things a new brand must have in order to put itself on a positive trajectory!  I thought it would be fun hearing all the answers from those working in various sectors in the industry!

Thank you!

Matt

Comments

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    This was talked about a little while back but the info still applies.
    https://chemistscorner.com/cosmeticsciencetalk/discussion/comment/49092

    I think the marketing is most important for getting someone to try the product. The product is more important for getting someone to repurchase the product.  In my opinion, as long as you provide a pleasant experience with your product (fragrance, feel, packaging) the rest of the performance doesn't matter as much. Consumers are just not that good at telling differences in performance.

    To separate out a new brand? I don't know. There isn't one answer. You need a compelling story. You need to identify consumers who will want to buy your stuff. And you need a way to communicate to those consumers. Whether an influencer will help or you need a derm, yes and no. Brands have been successful with those things and they have been successful without them.

    Social media is nice but nothing beats a good email list.

    I will add that too many people spend time learning how to make products (formulate) when they should be learning how to market and sell their products. It's much easier to hire a good chemist than a good marketer.

  • jemolianjemolian Member
    edited September 2021
    As a marketer, personally i'd say that product performance or efficacy, marketing, pricing would be factors for consideration. 

    In the upfront, normally a product should be designed for specific demographic(s), so it should then be marketed in specific ways to reach those customers. It depends on where the customers can be reached to be marketed. 

    Having a proper presence would be important. For example, a company can reach out to specific (beauty) testers to get testimonials, and also reach out to (specific) influencers, to build up their (online) presence. 

    In terms of story wise, sometimes there's just a brand story or sometimes it's a product series story. It depends on what kind of story the company wants to go for since it's all part of the marketing. For example, about claims or about the ingredients. The story can be the justification of the price point.

    Getting the customer interested and make the initial purchase would normally be the key factor. From there onwards, product performance would create repeat sales, which will increase more recommendations either online or offline. 

    It's very rarely pure luck. 
  • This is a great question @MattTheChemist!
    I'm gonna 100% agree with Perry's statement that the marketing is the most important in getting someone to purchase the product, and the product itself should be attractive enough to bring the customer back to repurchase. I can say that there are a LOT of products on the market today that WAY underperform in nearly every aspect but the marketing is great, the packaging is eye-catching, and/or the story is one people want to be a part of. However I do believe that most of those brands will not last long without creating a better product and even then, first impressions can be everything...
  • PhilGeisPhilGeis Member, Professional formulator
    agree abierose
    So much of cosmetic appeal is subjective - perceived functionality driving repurchase is also affected by secondary elements including cachet of price (expensive stuff must work better than cheap stuff), contrasting appeal to personal bias (works better than expensive stuff(, package design, perfume, continuing ad message including enviro/safety propaganda. 
    Maybe not quite on target - but consider antimicrobial soap.  Continue assurance that it works in ads survived the category for over half a century despite failure of industry to show a real benefit.  FDA asked the same question of efficacy for decades - show us it works - before finally getting around to calling the question.  Triclosan was not the problem, the stuff was never convincingly shown to work.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Yes, Perry pretty much nailed it.  Marketing + Packaging are key to first purchase and Performance/Price to repurchase.

    In evaluating a new product to purchase, consumers first focus on marketing copy, packaging and scent to evaluate whether or not they will purchase the product (if buying in store) and/or other consumer reviews (very important) and to a lesser extent influencers if they are purchasing online.

    Long-term, performance + price will be key determining factors.  Not all consumers are the same.  Some feel that purchasing an expensive cosmetic product is a personal treat that they deserve and they will continue purchasing provided performance is satisfactory (or they have convinced themselves that it is a good price/performance trade-off).  Others just want a product that works at a good price. 

    Compare La Mer to Palmer's.  Palmer's is a drug-store brand that always ranks high on consumer product reviews and sells for $15.  La Mer ... what $350, but it has the fashion industry cache.  Both perform the same function and probably not really indistinguishable by most consumers.

    So it's a matter of good marketing/story, well-formulated products, attractive packaging, appropriate price point ... and Luck.  You can do everything right and sometimes consumers just won't be attracted to the product.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals & Clean Beauty arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program/Clean At Sephora/Credo Clean guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details www.desertinbloomcosmeticslab.com
  • I am personally horrified by the number of expensive online schools cranking out "natural formulators". There is minimal discussion about the state of the market, the cost involved with starting an initial inventory of raw materials, equipment, packaging, testing, marketing. Most of these participants are eager, ready to quit their jobs, only to go through the schooling and then face the hard facts and then get mad and disappointed. The schools teach how to make batches with mixers or tiny overhead stirrers that are just not made for any type of production.  Or they teach you how to make the new craze body butters with pretty colors and micas that most people use once and toss in the bin because they are greasy and stain every piece of clothing you own...I am just frustrated by the greed and feel sorry for the gullible masses who sign up for these schools and then find they've spent thousands for absolutely nothing. 
  • It depends on the category of people you target, there are girls, the elderly, female doctors and others For example, if you target young girls, you need humor If you target the elderly and the elderly, these people do not like to joke much and like long stories. As for young people, you should try to convince them with just a few words.
  • Such great information! Thank you so much, everyone! Everything makes sense. It is so fascinating to get a clearer understanding of this side of the industry. I appreciate you all!
  • As a Marketer, I want to know the answer(s) as well lol.

    For me, I would say
    1 market research and identify your consumers - customer insight is the most crucial part because people won't change easily.
    2 good quality product - the product is the second, even tho you can adjust the formula but it takes time.
    3 marketing -  if you do the research well enough this part is easy.

    some notes
    Influencers - good for brand awareness but have little to do with profits/sale, used to be reasonable price but now very inflated. Some with good work etiquette, some with really bad. 
    Partnering with appropriate experts(derms, estheticians, etc) - meaning higher price tag but it might be double-edged sword, people will have higher expectation when there's expert involved if the product doesn't deliver and meet their expectation (which is very subjective) they might consider your product underperform.

    Perry said:

    I will add that too many people spend time learning how to make products (formulate) when they should be learning how to market and sell their products. It's much easier to hire a good chemist than a good marketer.

    agree but I have a question. In chemists point of view, what makes a marketer a good marketer?

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited September 2021
    @Pattsi - "In chemists point of view, what makes a marketer a good marketer?"

    This is a difficult question. Some characteristics or behaviors that a good marketer would have.

    1. They have unique ideas and don't just chase after "hot" ideas of the moment. CBD, Niacinamide, Bakochiol, Hyaluronic acid...it's all been done. Yawn. Clean beauty...right everyone wants to be clean. Cruelty free...of course, what brand wants to be cruel?  These ideas have been done. They aren't unique.

    2. They are aware of what is already on the market. They know that ideas like all natural cosmetics already exist, so they don't waste a formulator's time trying to convince them it's never been introduced before. There are rarely any really new ideas.

    3. They have a sense of what performance is possible (from a cosmetic). They don't ask for "chemical free" products or products that perform like drugs. Yes, everyone wants to sell hair products that grow hair. If something like that existed, the giant corporations would already be selling it!

    4. They realize that just because one company makes a claim doesn't mean that your company can make the same claim. Small companies make unsubstantiated claims all the time. That doesn't mean they are doing it legally.

    5. They know who their customer is, what they want, and how to communicate with them.  You can't sell to everyone. Only through knowing your consumer can you really make a product that appeals to them.

    6. They must believe their own BS.  This is probably the most important factor and one of the reasons there aren't more successful brands created by chemists/scientists. A marketers has to really believe in what they are selling. A chemist wants to believe in what is true. Often, the truth is an impediment to marketing a product.  

    In truth, I've not met very many really great marketers in my career. That is mostly because people who are really great marketers end up starting their own companies. I think it is difficult to get 100% behind a product when you are a paid employee for a company. When you own the company and live or die based on it being successful, then you be come a great marketer.
  • Perry said:

    6. They must believe their own BS.  This is probably the most important factor and one of the reasons there aren't more successful brands created by chemists/scientists. A marketers has to really believe in what they are selling. A chemist wants to believe in what is true. Often, the truth is an impediment to marketing a product.  

    On point.... I fall into the scientist camp, and yes, absolutely can be an impediment to marketing. But I try to turn the truth into a plus for marketing, but it ain't easy.
    Dr. Mike Thair
    Cofounder & Chief Formulator
    Indochine Natural
  • Thank you Perry.
    Perry said:
    There are rarely any really new ideas.
    So true.
    Perry said:
    They know that ideas like all natural cosmetics already exist, so they don't waste a formulator's time trying to convince them it's never been introduced before.
    A joke I exchanged with our formulator.
    Me - Uncle, can we put a living crayfish in our gel bottle?
    He - Yes of cause, stupid.
    Me - Come on, super natural product, no? lol
    He - Yeah yeah, stupid kid, go play with your sand that way.
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