By  on June 1, 2012

When it comes to building a beauty brand, technology has flattened the playing field, said E. Scott Beattie, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Elizabeth Arden Inc.

He reminded that, in the past, the largest, most formidable beauty brands got the largest department store counter, or in mass, the most shelf space.

“Today, the retail experience and experiencing the brand is a fluid concept,” he said, calling it “a point of sale evolution.”

As Beattie pointed out, the point of sale has moved beyond the counter or shelf and landed on the television screens (à la HSN) and on iPads via Amazon. “The Internet and social media together have defined the concept of point of sale and dramatically impacted every single one of us,” he said.

“There’s multiple entry points. Once someone is engaged with your brand, instead of having just a couple of opportunities to buy your products, there’s dozens of choices.”

As Beattie sees it, technology’s increasing role in the retail space also provides an entry point to more markets around the globe. “There are many markets that don’t have a retail infrastructure — India, China and Brazil. How do people buy their products? They buy them in travel retail when they travel, they buy them in digital environments,”said Beattie.

Tapping into these markets, digitally or otherwise, presents beauty brands with a tremendous opportunity. As Beattie noted, the Asia-Pacific market is nearly twice the size of North America, and growing at a more rapid clip. Latin America and the Middle East also promise ample opportunity for growth, he noted. And while the industry’s top 10 brands — which include Elizabeth Arden — wield a great power, Beattie said that collectively they represent less than 25 percent of the market share. The industry is fragmented, he noted, leaving an opening for new brands armed with innovation to emerge and gain traction.

Consumers, too, are raising their profile in the beauty industry. “There’s no cookie-cutter formula for someone entering into your brand. And as a result the content has shifted from being flat — that print ad, that TV ad — and strictly the domain of the brand owner, to being co-created by the consumer, user-generated. The content needs to be active and engaged and it needs to tell a story,” he said.

The involvement of the consumer requires a digital strategy, one that Beattie said needs to keep pace with the short attention span of the user. For the launch of Taylor Swift’s scent Wonderstruck, the company tapped into the singer’s network of 24 million Facebook fans. But Beattie clarified, “If we just created one piece of content for those Facebook fans, they’ll look at it once and move on. There needs to be a constant engagement. That creates a whole new challenge in terms of how you develop content in this world.”

Now, the true brand influencer is the one with the most captive audience online.

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