By  on May 26, 2006

It's beauty's top commandment: Know thy consumer, and communicate with her effectively. But Marc Pritchard — president of global cosmetics and retail hair color for Procter & Gamble, chairman of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association and the host of a panel on the subject — says it's that second point that can be a challenge for marketers.

"The digital world has brought an explosion of ways to communicate with consumers," said Pritchard, "and that means that we need to look at different strategies of how we need to market to her." Chief among them are the myriad electronic forms of communication — cable and satellite TV, the Internet and cell phone blasts, in particular. "TV used to be the big three networks, and now it's cable, satellite, digital — as many as 600 channels," said Pritchard. "And the Internet was born with Web sites for geeks, but now everybody is online and you can get virtually anything. So think about it this way — it's simple: Online is no longer the new media, it's part of the mainstream media."

In fact, "new" media is increasingly the first place consumers are looking for product information. Mentioning a recent conversation with his 15-year-old daughter, Pritchard said she spends three or four hours online per day and doesn't watch TV very often. She also always has her cell phone, so that she can text-message and take calls, he added. "So that means on Cover Girl, without a digital strategy, I may not even be having a dialogue with my own daughter," Pritchard said with a chuckle. "And by the way, it's not just teens. We've done some research, and 30- to 35-year-old soccer moms are consuming media in much the same way.

"Despite the complexity of the digital world, I believe marketing is still fairly simple," said Pritchard. "It's about the brand, the message and the media. But we need to change how we communicate with consumers." Pritchard pointed to Lauder's Sean John fragrance launch and MasterCard as effective examples of this strategy — albeit often in unexpected ways, he said. "MasterCard is a credit card company, so you'd think that they'd focus on transactions, trying to get people to buy more. Instead, they focus on creating the emotional connection of bringing people life's treasures and priceless moments, the little pleasures that people value the most. They blend a conventional strategy that has TV and print with a digital strategy that creates a personalized dialog with consumers.

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