Bobbi Brown is the eponymous cosmetics company of a New Jersey-based make-up artist. The company has existed since 1990, and today is owned by Estee Lauder, and represents around 10% of that company's total revenues (Buck, 2012). Growth in the Bobbi Brown line has come with the launch of branded stores, and a series of brand extensions into fragrances and eyewear. The bread and butter of Bobbi Brown remains the make-up business, however, and that is where the next idea is going to be launched. Bobbi Brown is seeking to capture the anti-aging cream market. This paper will explain the strategy and how it fits within the prevailing industry conditions.
The macro trends in the industry are generally positive. The cosmetics industry worldwide is growing rapidly, at a rate of around 8.5% per year. This growth is fueled by rising per capita incomes, combined with greater access to emerging markets (Sena, 2014). Skin care and lotions are a major growth area for the industry and competition in this market is intense. Another factor in the rapid growth of the industry is the aging baby boomers in many Western markets, including the U.S. And UK. They are driving growth because of their desire to maintain a youthful appearance. This is why anti-aging products offer such strong potential, because of the large demographic that is 50-70 years old right now (Lopaciuk & Loboda, 2013).
There are a few other trends that contribute to the external environment as well. The first is a trend towards luxury products. This is driven by Asia-Pacific markets in particular, as rapidly-rising disposable incomes are creating large new consumer markets in China and the Middle East in particular (EY, 2013). This trend is opening up opportunities for new premium brands to emerge, though it should be noted that the drive for anti-aging products is not as strong in these regions as it is in the West, because the demographics are different.
The Product Opportunity
Anti-aging is a set of products within the cosmetics industry that are specifically targeted on the basis of their benefits, namely to reduce the signs of aging (i.e. wrinkles) and to replenish moisture to the skin especially. There are a variety of soaps, lotions, shampoos and other products that fall within this broad category. The anti-aging market is estimated to be worth around $122.3 billion globally and its growth rate of 7.8% is fairly strong. It will be worth around $191.7 billion by 2019 (PRWeb, 2014). While there are concerns that many products within this market make dubious promises about their benefits, consumers respond to such claims anyway. Companies in the anti-aging business typically tout such benefits because they are selling an opportunity to turn back time, and cheat aging a little bit longer.
For Bobbi Brown, a move into the anti-aging business will require the creation of an entire line of anti-aging products. The reason is that anti-aging products typically act as complements to one another, the same way that products within any cosmetics line would. A series of creams, lotions and other products can be developed in order to launch with at least three or four good products in the line.
The biggest issue is not whether there is opportunity in the anti-aging category but whether or not the market is already too cluttered. Anti-aging is not listed amongst the best growth categories in cosmetics -- nail polish and men's cosmetics offer much stronger growth opportunities (Kline, 2014). However, the demographic suggest that there is long-run growth potential here, because baby boomers are more concerned about their appearance than previous generations of seniors, so as they move into and through their senior years there should be a fairly strong bulge in the demand for anti-aging products.
The current market for Bobbi Brown is quite broad at the moment, something that has helped to enhance the brand's strong growth and ability to support its own retail outlets (Logarta, 2002). The market for the anti-aging line therefore can appeal to a fairly broad demographic. The strategy that will be utilized will be to include products in the line for both younger women and older. Younger women are also fairly interested in anti-aging products, especially when they see their first signs of aging. By targeting the company's traditional broad range, Bobbi Brown has the opportunity to capture consumers in their 20s and hold them as customers over the long run. Baby boomers tend to maintain their desire to look good, and so there will not be the same negative connotations for wearing the same anti-aging products as one's mother -- the Bobbi Brown image and market is actually inclusive of multiple generations, something that is relatively unique in the cosmetics industry.
The anti-aging products will at first be marketed in the major markets with the most pronounced baby booms -- the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia being the major focal markets, the UK being especially promising. While there is growth in Asia, selling anti-aging products to that audience is not exactly the same as to English-speaking markets so there is a learning curve and the same demographic opportunity does not exist. Furthermore, while male cosmetics is a growing market and anti-aging products are most certainly a bridge into that growth opportunity, it cannot be done within the context of the Bobbi Brown brand or stores, because those are far too closely associated with women. The company can certainly explore that possibility, but will need a new line and distribution strategy in order to sell to the male market.
The product has been discussed above, noting that there will be a variety of complementary products within the line of anti-aging products Bobbi Brown will be releasing. The line is necessary because it drives more sales, but also because this is what consumers want. They do not want an anti-aging product, they want an anti-aging strategy, something that is comprehensive and compelling. Thus, the line-up will feature anywhere from 3-4 to 9-10 anti-aging products, depending on the creativity of the R&D team. The biggest challenge will be to offer compelling products that steal customers away from other companies' anti-aging lines, rather than simply cannibalizing existing Bobbi Brown business.
The price point for this new line will be at a slight premium to existing Bobbi Brown products. While the existing products command a strong mainstream market, the anti-aging market tends to have more disposable income. Furthermore, 'anti-aging' is considered to be value-added relative to conventional cosmetics. There are higher ingredient costs as well. With these factors combined, higher prices are needed to maintain margins but they also reflect the buying power of the target market and the value-added nature of the product.
The place reflects the distribution. Bobbi Brown has strong distribution. They sell in their own branded stores, and in department stores like Debenhams and other high street regulars, leveraging the distribution capabilities of the Estee Lauder company. The new anti-aging line will piggyback on this, being sold wherever Bobbi Brown products are sold. In addition, channels will be opened for online sales, enabling broader distribution of the products. However, the existing distribution network for Bobbi Brown products will suffice because it is built to attract the same target market as the anti-aging products.
The promotional strategy is going to need to do two things. The first is that it needs to create market awareness of the line. Remember that the market is going to seek out these products at Bobbi Brown stores and department store counters. This means that there needs to be awareness so that consumers who are seeking anti-aging products will think to look at the Bobbi Brown outlet. So the promotional program needs to spend money, taking out ads in magazines, possible on television, and online,…