Today, building a brand at retail requires more than just getting it on the shelf—building awareness, differentiating your product, and engaging the consumer are all part of a very complex equation. The Emerson Group is a consumer products equity organization that helps health and beauty brands reach their maximum potential at retail through a mix of smart strategies.
Women’s Marketing CEO Andrea Van Dam spoke to Sue Smith, a partner at Emerson Group, who manages sales at Walgreens and Duane Reade, to get her perspective on brand building at the retail level.
Andrea Van Dam: From emerging brands to legacy brands trying to reinvent themselves for today’s consumer, the marketplace is increasingly crowded. How does a brand differentiate itself and really stand out?
Sue Smith: Every brand should stand on its own merit. There is a reason for the brand’s existence and staying true to the core reason for being is important. A brand differentiates itself by staying connected to their loyal consumer while understanding the consumer they want to gain, how to connect with them, explaining in their terminology the benefits to that brand.
Andrea Van Dam: What are mass retailers looking for in brands and what does it take to stay on the shelf?
Sue Smith: Mass retailers are looking for differentiation and a shopping experience that is unique, but easy to shop and enough of a selection, but not too much as to overwhelm the shopper. Natural, niche brands are resonating with the consumer. To stay on shelf, the products have perform as they say they will, the products have to be priced right, and consumers need to know about the product proposition.
Andrea Van Dam: Why do you believe beauty has become such a hot commodity for investors?
Sue Smith: The consumer is asking for more, is very engaged and wants to be involved. Beauty is a very personal experience that makes you look good and feel good and is different for everyone, which opens the door to innovation on many platforms. There is a lot more communication and information about what is happening globally, which I believe investors find intriguing. Learning about what beauty techniques, regimens or products other women are talking about globally and bringing that to the U.S., coupled with innovation that is developed in the U.S. allows for a vast array of opportunity.
Andrea Van Dam: Walgreens, CVS, and other drug and mass retailers are making a major investment in beauty. In your opinion, what does this say about the future of retail and consumer culture in general?
Sue Smith: Drug and mass retailers want to differentiate themselves from one another—from having their own brands in their stores to how the beauty experience looks and feels, to continually staying at the forefront of trends. The future of the consumer and retail culture will continue to evolve. Understanding shopping behaviors and what gets consumers excited is key, along with being able to drive consumers into Walgreens, CVS, etc. specifically.
Andrea Van Dam: It’s 2020…what does the beauty aisle look like?
Sue Smith: It’s not going to look like it does today. She wants to be spoken to personally. She wants what she wants now, but will explore the endless aisle while wanting to touch and feel products for herself before purchasing. Health & Wellness and Beauty will merge closer together with more products similar to consumable beauty, and technology will begin to become a larger part of the everyday beauty routine. Your handheld device will be giving suggestions ranging from what colors to wear to what hairstyle is best for you for the temperature outside today.
Women’s Marketing understands how women engage and take action with brands and knows how to deliver results for beauty, fashion, food, and health/wellness brands. Contact us today to learn how we can put our expertise to work for you.