Brand Communities

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Just one of many examples that I can’t be trusted to shop for beauty products alone.

Welcome!

It is not enough for retailers to merely sell products anymore, rather, they must not only provide services as well, but also an environment that encourages stimulating and pleasantly surprising shopping experiences (Anteblian et al 2014). This relates to why companies increasingly focus on building brand communities, which Schiffman et al (2014) tells us are distinctive consumer-, purchaser-, and admirer-centric experiences that give meaning to themselves rather than to the brands they are based around. These niche, social relationship networks are unbounded by geography and fortified by shared similarities. Sound familiar? No? That’s probably because I overcomplicated it to sound clever. Basically, a brand community is a group of admirers who connect with each other as well as the brand and its products, to the point where that community becomes a part of their lives. If you’re anything like me, your belonging to such a community will be signified by too many plastic cards in your wallet and an alternative calendar year that revolves around sales and VIP events instead of months and seasons.

Exemplifying the trend of brand communities—and the fact that I have no self control—is that I myself am part of many: Sephora White (and hopefully Sephora Black when my finances allow for it), Mecca Beauty Loop, and the Priceline Sister Club are a few of my favourites, and, being honest here, a few of my bank account’s worst enemies. Personally, my experience in beauty brand communities has been positive. Priceline Sister Club (2016) sums it all up pretty well, saying “Priceline Sisters enjoy great perks, privileges and paybacks. Join our Sister Club and be part of something really big!” This tells us that brand communities do their best to give their members a sense of belonging, and another way of identifying themselves, such as being a ‘sister’.

If any of you have another beauty-related brand community that you think I need to be a part of, please let me know—after all, my inbox totally isn’t full of enough marketing emails yet.

May your biscuits be crunchy and your nail polish never chip whilst opening the packet.

Warm regards,

Tope.

References:

Anteblian, B, Filser, M & Roederer, C 2014, ‘Consumption experience in retail environments: A literature review’, Recherche et Applications en Marketing, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 82-109.

Priceline Pharmacy 2016, Sister Club, Priceline Pharmacy, viewed 20 May 2016, <https://www.priceline.com.au/sister-club&gt;.

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A, & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson, Australia.

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Ethical Considerations for Marketers

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This is my beautiful ring-neck parrot; I can’t imagine someone being cruel to him. He’s basically the poster child for green marketing. Funny? No? Well, they can’t all be winners.

‘Green marketing’ involves the promotion of products and brands that show concern for the environment—including avoiding cruelty to animals and the unnecessary use of animal materials—through activities such as modified products, production process changes, using different packaging, stylising/remodelling, and new advertising/promotion strategies (Sarkar 2012). This sounds ideal, but the reality is that, although recent years have seen a shift in the cosmetics industry towards cruelty free, organic, and vegan marketing, the commercialised beauty scene has a past (and, sadly, a present) marred by animal testing—the ‘green’ beauty industry is still little more than a niche market. So I’d like to know: What does animal testing entail (pun intended)? Is all animal testing cruel? What can be done to ensure there is no unnecessary suffering? How do I get red lipstick stains out of my white shirt? (Wait—forget that last one, that’s from the list of things I’m supposed to ask Mum.)

Basically, as Cruelty Free International (2016) says, animal testing is forced experimentation on a living animal, without being beneficial to that animal, to cause harm so that products can be refined to be declared safe for human use (the animal is also usually killed afterwards). Obviously, this causes a great deal of suffering—but as consumers, we’re desensitised to this. Not only is animal testing not mentioned in official firm documents like financial statements, but we, as consumers, are shown only beauty in cosmetics advertisements—after all, nobody wants to believe that their beautiful new $50 lipstick is only on the market because an animal suffered until the side effects were weeded out.

Considering this, I would like to mention that, to me, the terms ‘cruelty free’ and vegan’ are not synonymous: cruelty to a live animal is not the same as using animal byproducts once an animal has been humanely killed; I have the same opinion about eating meat. This is one consideration for marketers concerned with ethics: different consumers will have different opinions on what is right and what is wrong, so effective segmentation and target advertising are key to ensuring a brand reached those who will appreciate it most.

So what can be done to ensure companies aren’t acting unethically towards animals or in their marketing campaigns? I can’t pretend to have all of the answers, and I certainly can’t guarantee that all the products I own are 100% cruelty free (sometimes it’s hard just to find accurate information), but I think this issue goes deeper than simply not purchasing products from brands that test on animals: Although that’s a start, it would take a concerted and coordinated mass effort to effectively boycott a huge company. If anyone at all is still buying animal-tested makeup or skincare, it will continue to happen, and we can’t assume that money will fix such a complex issue; indeed, some scientists may see animal testing as the lesser of two evils: Either they harm humans, or they harm animals. I think education and awareness is key, both organizationally and for consumers. People need to see the ugly truth of animal testing and companies need to see that people don’t like that truth and try to find other ways to test products. Marketers can also feature being cruelty free as a way to differentiate their positioning strategy. Some brands that exemplify this well are Lush, Australis, The Body Shop, and INIKA, just to name a few.

May your chocolate never melt and your mascara never smudge.

Warm regards,

Tope.

References:

Cruelty Free International 2016, What is Animal Testing?, Cruelty Free International, viewed 19 May 2016, <https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/why-we-do-it/what-animal-testing&gt;.

Sarkar, AN 2012, ‘Green Branding and Eco-innovations for Evolving a Sustainable Green Marketing Strategy’, Asia-Pacific Journal of Marketing Research and Innovation, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 39-58.

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A, & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson, Australia.

 

 

 

 

Consumer Behaviour and Packaging

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The beautyblender: the perfect tool for smearing things on one’s face. Mine needs a clean.

Welcome!

Dupes! Dupes everywhere!

If you’re unaware (in which case your wallet will thank me later for what I’m about to tell you), a dupe is a comparable and cheaper alternative to a high end product. It’s consumer nature to seek out the best value for money—I, for example, only get my hair done after waiting the maximum number of days possible before my hair needs washing so as to milk the benefits of using their products (sorry to every hairdresser ever)—but have you ever wondered about the science behind dupes? If not, stop reading now, because I’m about to get all marketing-techy up in here (thanks, uni).

In the end, it all comes down to looks, preference, and perception. (No package-shaming here please, every package is beautiful. #packagepositivityweek) Reber et al (2004) propose that beauty is how fluently we perceive aesthetic pleasure as we process it from stimuli, which results in experience and judgement. This speaks to how we decide whether to try a dupe or not based on how we judge products that look similar. Deep, right?

Two main factors are behind the concept of dupes: stimulus generalisation and stimulus discrimination. Stimulus generalisation is the idea that learning relies upon responding the same way to stimuli that are similar, such as purchasing a product based on its packaging being similar to hero products (Schiffman et al 2014). Stimulus discrimination, on the other hand, is the opposite: it’s our ability to pick out specific stimuli among similar stimuli—this is the basis of product positioning (Schiffman et al 2014). So, brands that make dupes want us to generalise by associating their product with leading brands’ packaging, whilst said leading brands wish to help their consumers to discriminate.

A perfect example of a brand wanting us to discriminate is the beautyblender—the little makeup sponge that’s taken over beauty world in recent blogger history. Yes, it’s just a sponge, but if a sponge could be beautiful, this is what that sponge would look like. The beautyblender company (2016) says that their ‘original’ sponge “Eliminates lines and streaks that other sponges and imitators leave behind.” Other brands wish us to generalise so we buy their sponge instead—I personally almost bought a Mecca Maxima brand lookalike before purchasing my beautyblender, simply because it was the same shade of bright pink.

If you’ve tried any beauty dupes you love, please let me know, because I’m a student with an eye for pretty, shiny things I can’t afford.

May your coffee cup be full and never make your hands shake whilst applying eyeliner.

Warm regards,

Tope.

References:

beautyblender 2016, beautyblender defined, beautyblender, viewed 12 May 2016, <http://www.beautyblender.com/beautyblender-defined/&gt;.

Reber, R, Schwarz, N & Winkeilman, P 2004, ‘Processing Fluency and Aesthetic Pleasure: Is Beauty in the Perceiver’s Processing Experience?’, Personality and Social Psychology Review, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 364-382.

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A, & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson, Australia.

Estee Lauder: the Brand I Trust the Most

Welcome all!

What do I think of when I think of the best retail experience I’ve ever had? Estee Lauder. Sounds fancy, right? Posh, even? It is a high-end brand, after all. Personally, I think Estee Lauder’s products are worth the hefty (especially in Australian dollars) price tag. I can justify spending $50 on foundation or $60 on face powder when the name Estee Lauder is on the packaging, because I’ve never had a bad experience; quite the contrary, their products are a joy to use.

I tend to base my opinions of a brand on two things: retail service quality and pricing. Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Light was the first foundation I ever spent my not-so-hard-earned Youth Allowance money on as a teenager. I shuffled into Myer wearing too much eyeliner and asked to be matched to a foundation shade. The lady gave me a discount, two free deluxe samples, and reminded me of my grandma. Ever since then the brand has held a special place in the makeup bag of my heart, and every time I go back to Myer I get free samples. All the women in the makeup department know my name now. I may have a slight addiction. The point? High retail service quality. Check.

As for pricing, the shallow, living payday to payday part of my materialistic, consumerism-flooded brain still makes me think that high-end products are superior to their chemist-sold counterparts despite me studying marketing and knowing the psychology behind customer behaviour and all that jazz. I’m a sucker, what can I say? However, in the case of Estee Lauder, I know why the pricing is prestige. The products are awesome; which brings me to my next judgement: products.

For me, beauty products can be assessed based on packaging, effectiveness, scent, delight and, more specifically to makeup, longevity, colour, so on, so forth. A stand out product from Estee Lauder that ticks all my boxes is the Advanced Night Repair Serum II. Holy cow is that stuff good (I’m pretty sure it’s made of unicorn pee and fairy tears). The packaging is gorgeous and solid: it feels expensive, and it comes with a dropper, which is a big plus for practicality. As for effectiveness, I get so many compliments on my skin when I use this serum, and it’s cleared up my breakouts, and it’s made my skin firm and glowing, and it doesn’t smell offensive, and it feels luxurious to the touch, and…I’ll stop. I could go on for paragraphs.

Bottom line (not really, I tend to ramble, but bottom paragraph I swear): I trust Estee Lauder and their products bring me delight when I use them. Their shade ranges are great and all their employees have treated me wonderfully. Totes recommend (excuse the unnecessary abbreviation, I’ve had too much coffee and am rushing everything, including words, apparently).

May your tea be hot and your biscuit never fall into the bottom of your cup whilst dunking.

Warm regards,

Tope.