In our first week back into third year, in our first lecture on strategy we were asked which definition of strategic theory we thought was the most accurate. The one that I thought related the most to what I had experienced throughout my placement year at Rimmel London was Michael Porter’s definition of strategy, which states that “competitive strategy is about being different. It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value”. I think this is very true, especially within the beauty industry. When it comes to buying makeup and choosing between different makeup brands, customers will be drawn to products and brands that offer new and innovative products.
Within colour cosmetics one of the biggest competitors on all levels, within luxury or a drug store level is L’Oreal. First came fast food, then fast fashion and now fast beauty. Just like the fashion industry, beauty is now all about trends and making sure that those new trends are out and in stores before any other competitors. Instead of focusing on the products that have sold well in the past and on products that competitors are selling well, beauty companies need to focus on whats next. One of Rimmel’s problems was just that, products weren’t selling as much as we wanted them to because our products always came out in stores months after those of our competitors. Why would anyone want to by three of the same lipstick, mascara, or foundation?
In our second week of lectures, we talked about different strategic problems. And one strategic problem that I related back to my placement year at Rimmel London was Benchmarking. Benchmarking in beauty is the easiest, cheapest and probably one of the fastest ways of creating a new product. You look at competitor products that are missing from your range, pick out a benchmark, and send it to the research and development team, who will then create a replica of the product with the brands packaging and formula.
The problem with benchmarking is that differentiation is low, as what you are producing is already on the market. If we look at Bowman’s Strategy Clock, Rimmel would probably be placed at either a 1 or a 2, as the prices are low, and the differentiation is low, because of the amount of product benchmarks used. Resulting in low perceived product benefits.
Now benchmarking isn’t always bad, if you use a competitor product in beauty, as a colour benchmark rather then a product benchmark and that the product is innovative enough, then there is still differentiation there. And having a benchmark will just facilitate things between the product managers and the factory. It will give the factory a physical product to compare the batches to, so that when samples of the new products are sent to the product managers to review, very little adjustments will need to be made.
In our third week of the semester we learned about different types of brand positioning strategies. One that I particularly like is West et al. (2010) 4C’s of positioning which helps brands evaluate the success of its positioning strategy. Clarity, Consistency, Credibility and Competitiveness make up the 4C’s.
One brand that comes to mind when thinking about good brand positioning is Nike. It has a clear target market, people who want high performance athletic gear and has very good differential advantage, as innovation is one of their key drivers when creating new products. They have a consistent message, just do it, no matter who you are or where you are. And they sponsor a lot of professional athlete, who wear or use their products in competitions, creating value that no competitors have matched.
I also like this model because it can reflects on the brands identity and how good it is. Without good brand positioning, you can’t possibly have a good brand identity. Because to have a strong brand identity you also need to have all 4 C’s. Throughout my placement at Rimmel, I also learned that if you are a global company you need to think about all the markets that your brand will be in, and insure that you have clarity, consistency, credibility and competitiveness over all markets. For example, Rimmel in the U.S wasn’t doing as well as as it was in the U.K, and before the rebranding, the marketing message that was circulating in the country was ‘Live the London Look’. The problem with that, was that the message didn’t appeal to the American customer, because he or she didn’t understand it. If the brand message had been thought about from a global perspective, maybe Rimmel could have been more successful in the U.S.
Archetypes help brands connect with their audience on a deep emotional level, fulfilling unconscious ambitions and aspirations. Mark, M. and Pearson, C. (2001), 12 archetypes and 4 human drivers can help brands figure out what their archetype is, to then help them challenge category conventions, stand-out and reconnect with their consumers on a more emotional level through marketing. The 4 human drivers categorises the 12 archetypes further.
If your brands archetype, falls under the human driver Stability, it means the message your brand is conveying is that it wants to provide structure to the world. If your brands archetype, falls under the human driver Independence, it means the message you brand is conveying is yearning for paradise. If your brands archetype, falls under the human driver Mastery, it means the message your brand is conveying is to leave a mark on the world and if you brands archetype, falls under the human driver Belonging, it means the message your brand is conveying is that it wants to connect with others. These human drivers represent different consumers wants and needs.
For example, within fragrance, Dior’s brand archetype is Lover and a consumer who want tobuy a Dior perfume after viewing its advertising, has the unconscious ambition and aspiration of being loved or in love. Archetypes help bring out the emotion and soul in marketing campaigns, giving consumers feelings about a brand, connecting with them on a whole other level. Archetypes provide the brand with a human identity that is relevant to all human beings, they help fill the gaps between what customers deepest motivations are and the experiences that fulfil their basic human needs.