By  on October 8, 2010

As we were going to press with this issue of WWD Beauty Biz, which is focused on the impact of technology on the beauty industry, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index retreated to 48.5 from 53.2 in August. The index, based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households, revealed that confidence in the state of the economy remains grim, particularly with the jobless rate continuing to hover in the high single digits. Although the economists insist the recovery is well under way, marketers and retailers know that luring shoppers to open their wallets remains a challenge to be surmounted every single day.

Simultaneously, technological advances in the digital realm have rendered a seismic shift in the balance of power between consumers and the companies they patronize. The marketing monologue is now a dialogue, one in which brands and retailers have to not only talk to consumers, but—more important—they have to listen, interact, educate, entertain and create a community of like-minded people who feel an emotional connection to each other and the brand. As I learned while reporting "Power Connections," the result is a new strategic landscape that is fundamentally changing the industry. "Digital isn't just a Web site. It isn't just social networking. It isn't just commerce," Wendy Liebmann told me. "It is the underpinning of how we think about communicating, shopping and buying today." Discover how beauty's most forward-looking brands and retailers are harnessing that power to drive sales in the face of continuing consumer apathy here.

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