Friday, 20 May 2011

Good PR practice/bad PR practice - beauty bloggers in their own words

It is common practice for beauty brands to work with beauty bloggers now, as the unbiased nature of beauty bloggers’ product reviews and the accessibility of their reviews across the internet mean that beauty blogs play a powerful part in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Try it for yourself – Google your favourite beauty product and the likelihood is that beauty blogger reviews will dominate the first few pages. So if someone is considering purchasing your brand’s product and Google’s it to find out more, beauty blogger reviews can make or break their decision to buy.

However, the beauty PR or beauty brand/beauty blogger relationship is still relatively new and so there is a lot of learning to be done – working with bloggers is very different to working with journalists; for one bloggers aren’t generally paid for what they do – they do it because of their genuine passion for beauty products, and you have to remember that most beauty bloggers have full time jobs or are full-time mums and work on their blog in their spare time.

I often see Tweets from beauty bloggers on Twitter talking about the latest PR mishap they’ve encountered, and so I sent a tweet out to bloggers asking them what common mistakes beauty PRs/brands make, so that we can learn how to best approach and work with bloggers... and what not to do.

Here are the bloggers in their own words:

CosmeticsCharlotte72 -
"I've had a PR company contacting me with a copy and pasted message… but forgot to change the name.. Fail!"

OxfordJasmine -
“I like it when a PR company will take the time to call me and ask if I'd like to try a new brand. Groups emails suck.”

Cami Loves Kiwi (in agreement with above) -
“Dear [blank], we really love your blog called [blank], it is awesome...”

Then There Were... -
“Use my name, if you have a deadline be upfront and say that, and remember we generally do this on top of a full time job.”
Beauty Swot -
“PR's contacting me saying they will send something and never sending them.”

I Heart Cosmetics -

Then There Were... -
“My ForDGRedial blog clearly states that I don't blog there anymore. So why do they message me 'Dear ForDGRedial' asking stuff?”

Beautylicious Love -
“I dont like correspondence to be all formal. I just like to be me in emails etc and talk to a PR like I would my friends.”

A Little Obsessed -
“I don't like it when PRs call me Sabs.. I don’t even like my friends calling me that! Or when they say Hi Lovely/Hun etc – it makes me think they haven’t bothered to find out my name.”

I’ll leave the last word to OxfordJasmine, who says:
“All bloggers love contact from PRs, but just because they buy you dinner, doesn't mean you'll put out.”

Everyone’s talking about nails!

I have loved watching the raft of innovation being launched in the nail sector recently – there have been some fantastic things going on that have made the market very exciting. Over the last couple of days a few blog/YouTube posts about nails have caught my eye, so I thought I would share them with you:

Sarah at I Heart Cosmetics introduces the new Elegant Touch Matte Nails with Gloss Art, which I personally think is a fantastic innovation and I will definitely be jumping on board with this one! I love how the gloss lets you create subtle nail art, for those of you who don’t want to jump into the nail art trend with full force.

Charlotte at CosmeticsCharlotte72 gets creative and shows us how to paint a tropical scene on nails. Nail art really has moved from the salon to become accessible in the home now and there are some very creative things coming out of this.

Helen at Just Nice Things looks at innovation in nails and discusses the saturation of beauty trends.

I really enjoyed this thought-provoking blog post and left my own comment on the blog, which said:
“I think the difficulty for beauty companies is the need to constantly bring new products to market. Not many markets have to launch innovation at such a constant rate, but because of the media’s – and therefore the consumer’s – desire for new, new, new, a constant turnover of new products is necessary in the beauty industry.

So, there are the companies that lead the way, generating genuinely new and exciting products or concepts not seen before. Then there are the companies that find it hard to keep up with constant innovation – either they don’t have the budgets for R&D or they don’t have the creative ideas.

So when a beauty product comes along that gets consumers leaping out of their seats and hotfooting it to Boots, it makes other companies sit up and say ‘oo, let’s do a crackle nail polish (or other fad product) too!’

Trouble is, it can take at least 6 months to produce a beauty product, so by the time it hits the shelves, everyone’s bored of it!

I reckon it must be a constant dilemma for beauty brands; do they jump on the trend and hope they get there in time before everyone’s bored of it, or do they let the trend pass them by and risk watching all their competitors launch their own versions and enjoy ongoing success with it? Tough decision.”

I would love to hear your own thoughts on this subject too - feel free to post your comments below.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

This week’s Recommended Reads

Fashionably Marketing.Me says traditional PR is dead – do you want to survive?

The New York Times analyses the image of beauty as the Beauty Culture exhibition in LA gears up for launch

Smarta interviews Grace Fodor, the business brains behind the Jemma Kidd cosmetics brand

Euromonitor discusses the art of branding as an interactive beauty care experience

Beauty industry: Business News

My round-up of the headlines relevant to the beauty industry:

Forbes looks at why Saks is leading the way in luxury retail’s recovery

E-consultancy reports that Debenhams has picked up an award for 'best use of affiliate marketing as part of a multichannel campaign', plus the other retailers winning awards for their innovation in digital marketing

Yahoo discusses the potential for the ‘beauty foods’ market and the importance of consumer trust in the ingredients used

The Guardian reports on the government’s decision to bring in TV’s Mary Portas to reverse the fortunes of the UK’s high streets

Reuters reveals that Alliance Boots defies gloom with profit rise

Premium Beauty News interviews Alain Grangé Cabane, President of the FÉBÉA (the French trade association representing cosmetics brands), on the opportunities and challenges in the French beauty market

Monday, 16 May 2011

The history of beauty – shaping our future

I have long been inspired by make up artist Lisa Eldridge – she is so skilled and passionate about her work and I love watching her tutorials and reading about her latest work at

Recently Lisa has been producing a video series on the history of beauty and I find them so exciting and inspiring that I had to share them with you all. Anyone who truly loves beauty will love learning about the history of beauty, to really appreciate what shaped each decade’s looks and how our industry has got to where it has today. Do not think that beauty history is firmly in the past – it influences everything that happens now.

Lisa’s video series on the history of beauty is based upon her meeting with Madeleine Marsh, a writer and historian who wrote The History of Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty From Victorian Times to the Present Day. Madeleine’s house is truly amazing – she has a room dedicated to beauty products, advertising and other paraphernalia and I desperately wanted to be there myself to take a closer look at all the products. It is like a museum for beauty products.

Check it out for yourselves:

Beauty – Victorian Era to 1930s

Beauty – 1940s-1970s

(My mum had the Mary Quant tin that appears in this video! Seeing this brought back strong childhood memories of it sitting on her dressing table and me and my sister occasionally being allowed to paint our faces with it. I didn’t know it was Mary Quant until I saw it on this video and it bought a tear to my eye to see it again.)

Look out for Lisa’s final video in the series, covering 1980s-present day beauty, which will be coming soon at

I bought Madeleine Marsh’s book: The History of Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty From Victorian Times to the Present Day the moment I finished watching these videos – you can buy it here

An interview with... Noelle O Connor, MD of TanOrganic

"Even though I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go on national TV, it was going to be massive PR for TanOrganic"
Years in beauty industry: 20

Frustrated by the lack of 100% natural sunless tan products available, Noelle O Connor created TanOrganic. After an initial struggle trying to bring TanOrganic to the Irish market, Noelle took her brand on Irish Dragon's Den and experienced phenomenal overnight success. Noelle talks to Your Beauty Industry about finding a gap in the market, working with investors and the importance of PR and perseverance.

Tell me a bit about your career background.
I am a passionate ITEC qualified beauty therapist/lecturer and postgraduate of many holistic treatments and have also studied in the Boston MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program. Education is my number one core value so I am always striving to learn new skills.

I have been in the spa and salon industry for nearly 20 years and began my self employed career in a single cubicle beauty room behind a local hair salon. I built it into Ireland's first beauty chain, Ealu Spa Therapy while setting up a distribution company Skin Logic, supplying the leading beauty products in Ireland and the UK.

I finally decided to develop my own line of products, due to the lack of 100% natural, ingredient-conscious sunless tan products on the market. I wanted products that would firstly preserve the skin, while hydrating at the same time. Frustrated by expensive, skin drying, chemical loaded, unnatural tans on the market, I decided to do some research of my own.

The more I researched the more I wanted to create a tan that was organic, natural and that worked, moisturising the skin rather than drying it like most tans available. Beauty therapists, including myself, have been asking for truly natural sunless products and by using certified organic ingredients it assures discriminating users that the natural claims are real. And so TanOrganic was born.

Having very fair skin, I used fake tans for over 20 years and felt there was a gap and need for a tan that was natural, moisturising, full of anti-oxidants and could double up as an anti-ageing body treatment. If I am going to apply a product continuously on my skin, why not make it a product that is hydrating and anti-ageing at the same time? With this in mind I set about sourcing ingredients and developing my very own formula. Now my fake tan becomes another part of my anti-ageing skin care routine as well as giving me a healthy, natural safe tan.

How has TanOrganic performed so far?
The company has grown rapidly over the last year, with ever-increasing sales to salons, health food stores and pharmacies. TanOrganic generated over €1 million in retail sales within its first 3 months. We have sprayed over 100,000 people through beauty salons and have had fantastic reviews from the media and celebrity following, including the cast of Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and the like.

We plan to bring out very unique brand extensions this year that have a point of difference like TanOrganic. I don’t want my products to be mainstream or just like all the others. TanOrganic is a niche and unique brand because I care about the ingredients I choose and the quality of what I put on my skin. For this reason TanOrganic, I believe, will be a world-beater and a global brand.

"I went on Dragon's Den because I felt it was a chance to promote my brand for free - my other businesses were failing and things were getting desperate" 
 You went to Dragon’s Den for investment – why did you choose to go this route and had you already tried to launch TanOrganic into the beauty market?
I went this route because I felt it was a chance to promote my brand for free and my other businesses were failing and things were getting desperate. I knew I didn’t have long before everything would fall like a deck of cards and even though I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go on national TV, it was going to be massive PR for TanOrganic, which I knew was capable of being a great success with a little help. I had already tried [launching the brand] through my distribution company but it was a slow, hard slog because no-one knew me and no-one knew the brand. Dragon’s Den made it an overnight success without a doubt!

What did appearing on Dragon’s Den do for your brand?
Since appearing on Dragons Den it has been a whirlwind.  In the 24 hours after the show we had 60,000 hits on our website. The following morning every major distributor in the country was looking to work with us. We were opening new accounts every 30 minutes, which was unheard of even at the height of the boom times. We had consumers screaming for the retail line and pharmacies were delighted to have people coming in to look for an Irish brand. We did over a million in retail sales in the first 3 months of releasing the retail line and we are the first ever professional tan to launch a TV advert.

"The following morning every major distributor in the country was looking to work with us. We were opening new accounts every 30 minutes"
The brand has fast become the number one organic tan in the country. We also noticed that there was a demand for a smaller 100ml bottle for travel and that consumers with a lower spend could buy, and that the 240ml was too large for first time users even though it is exceptional value for money. We are now launching our new 100ml size bottle in the first ever Bio Bottle used in the cosmetics industry, which is made from extracts of corn. Using this type of material is using natural resources and there are no dioxins released into my 100% natural product.

We are also getting ready to launch into other markets including the UK, USA, South Africa, Australia and many other European countries. We have had huge interest internationally and the hardest job is picking the right distributors from all the enquiries for our brand. We have never once had to approach any of our customers. From day one they have all been chasing us which is a fabulous position for any company to be in. We are definitely on target for becoming a leading international cosmetic brand, all thanks to Dragons Den.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to approach an investor for their beauty brand?
For anyone approaching any investor, they must have something that there is demand for, a good business plan and always an exit strategy. Investors always love to know when they are going to get a return.

How do you intend to grow the brand?
After huge success in our home market, we are entering the UK market and then will follow into 14 countries waiting to take the brand on. After that the sky is the limit.

What are the most important lessons you have learnt about launching a beauty brand?
Test you market and brand in smaller markets before you jump into the big markets.

What top tips would you give anyone wanting to launch their own beauty brand?
PR - without that the best of brands will go nowhere.

Who inspires you?
Richard Branson and Judy Naake from St. Tropez are just a couple of people who inspire me.

What’s the best career advice you have received?
Learn by your mistakes and never, ever, ever give up!


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Shock, horror - beauty products that ACTUALLY work!

Nip+Fab Frown Fix currently has an 8,000 strong waiting list at Boots

Today the Daily Mail reported on the latest ‘miracle’ beauty product causing a stir, as the new Nip+Fab Frown Fix sold out within 24 hours of launching in the UK and now has an 8,000-strong waiting list at Boots. (It really made me laugh that the Daily Mail said “The Only Way Is Essex's salon-owner Amy Childs swears by the product” – she’s only 20 year’s old, for goodness sake - what frown lines does she have to fill?!)

I remember the last time this happened with Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Serum, when women went crazy in the aisles trying to get their hands on the anti-wrinkle hope-in-a-jar after BBC programme Horizon reported that the product ‘actually worked’.

When these 'miracle' beauty products come along, they tend to relate to skincare, specifically anti-ageing, or beauty problems such as cellulite or stretch marks, where a visible result is required in the reduction of wrinkles, cellulite, or whatever. The hype becomes immense because the thought that these kind of physical imperfections might just possibly be cured by a jar of cream is too good to pass up on.

While I’m all for beauty products being hailed for doing their job properly, I do think the fact that people go so crazy about a beauty product that ‘actually works’ highlights a problem in the beauty industry.

What about the millions of beauty products that make up the rest of the lucrative beauty market, which had sales of $36.5 billion in 2010 in the US alone (according to Kline Market Research)?  Are you telling me that none of these ‘actually work’? And if not, then why does everyone continue to buy them?

Well of course, many beauty products do their job properly - just take a look around you and see people's freshly washed, glossy looking tresses, or the enhancements that a few deft swipes of concealer and mascara can provide.

But when so many beauty products make such wild promises about the results they can provide (‘instantly makes you look 10 years younger!’ Really??), it’s not hard to see why people are often disillusioned with the (lack of) results they get from their beauty stash.

I think a bout of honesty would go a long way in beauty – if consumers have realistic expectations about the results they can achieve from a beauty product, then they won’t be left disappointed and every beauty product would ‘actually work’ because it is doing the job it promised it would do.

And don’t even get me started on using lash inserts and post production enhancement in mascara adverts.