There's Beauty in Loyalty

November 05, 2010

The flip side of private label encroachment in so many categories storewide is the growth of consumer loyalty to brands that relate to self-image.

The flip side of private label encroachment in so many categories storewide is the growth of consumer loyalty to brands that relate to self-image. Few are as connected to self-image as cosmetics, skin care and fragrance brands, which haven't drawn exceptional interest from most supermarkets because they are, after all, slow-turning nonfoods. 

Yet as this stressful recessionary period wears on and extracts tolls on families - lost jobs, lesser lifestyles, watchfully protecting the household budget - it could be time for retailers to leverage the value of beauty care brands that simply help lift the emotional state of chief household shoppers. In the midst of doing so much for others, F3 believes women would like to do a little something for themselves. Retailers that make this convenient might be rewarded with lengthier shopping trips and bigger baskets. 

Therefore, the loyalty-building pulls of beauty care brands probably deserve more retailer attention. These pulls are powerful, according to rankings on the Brand Keys 14th Annual Loyalty Leaders list. Nearly one-third (19 out of the Top 60) of the leading brands - out of 71 industry categories and 501 brands cited overall - are in cosmetics, skin care or fragrances. 

Mary Kay is #12, Maybelline is #16, Estee Lauder is #19, and Mary Kay Moisturing Skin Care is #20, followed by Clinique #22, Eucerin #23, Avon #27, Lancome #28, Estee Lauder Moisturing Skin Care #31, L'Oreal #32, L'Oreal Moisturizing Skin Care #39, Vaseline #40, Lancome #41, Covergirl #47, Chanel #51, Max Factor #53, Elizabeth Arden #54, Clinique Moisturizing Skin Care #57 and Neutrogena #58, reported Brand Keys. Revlon came in at #69. 

By contrast, the first non-alcoholic food-beverage brand on the list is Dunkin' Donuts coffee at #14, followed by McDonald's coffee at #18 and Frosted Flakes at #24. Brands of alcohol, technology, retailers and cars also populated the Brand Keys list. "Brands that can make a real, not superficial, connection emotional connection with consumers always engender higher levels of loyalty," noted Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president 

"Given the levels of commoditization we've witnessed in the past decade, it's no surprise that consumers are looking for brands to make a difference. The consumer value equation has shifted dramatically from 'price-value' to 'value-for-dollar,' he observed earlier this year. "Consumers have been forced to look beyond mere primacy of product, price and service.....Brands are a surrogate for value....Brands have reached their highest level of consequence since the 1960s." 

Kroger wants in on this beauty bash, doubling its varieties of its Mirra store-brand cosmetics and shampoos in summer 2010, with plans to launch more this autumn (retinal-A anti-wrinkle products) and in 2011, according to an account by The Associated Press. The line currently includes about 100 items, also including face creams and accessories, up from 41 three months ago. 

What could help retailers raise their beauty profile?

  • Virtual mirrors that simulate makeovers with ease, showing what makeup and hair coloring would look like on shoppers. Walmart, Carrefour and Superdrug chains are testing the EZface technology, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Easier browsing, product testing and express service in revamped merchandising areas, as offered by Estee Lauder, noted WSJ.

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