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Gurus Speak Out

EVIAN, France — Marketers can learn from the past, but they also need to be mindful of what the future holds.<br><br>So were the messages of industry gurus, those management consultants to whom brand marketers turn for inspiration. And for...

EVIAN, France — Marketers can learn from the past, but they also need to be mindful of what the future holds.

So were the messages of industry gurus, those management consultants to whom brand marketers turn for inspiration. And for certain, attendees at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit got an earful.

Management consultant Robin Lewis, who is usually one of the most popular speakers at the Summits, gave a one-hour-plus talk on how he sees distribution as the key to brand success and survival in the 21st century. During his talk, Lewis introduced a new concept and coined a new term, “brandchising.” Simply put, the term refers to the combination of two equally powerful brands, giving rise to synergies leading to the creation of new consumer markets. An example is Target and its specially created designer brands.

From retail and consumer products consulting firm, Kurt Salmon Associates, attendees were advised that they can learn from brand-building success stories from outside the beauty industry, too. Todd L. Hooper, principal, and Tony Smith, vice president at KSA, explained the the winning ideas behind four new product success stories that explode the myth of “slow growth” industries. The case studies included the introduction of the Power Bar athletic snack, which was concocted in the kitchen of a marathon runner who needed a nutritional item to enhance his performance. The resultant $100 million company was acquired by Nestlé in 2000 at four times sales.

And for those looking to spark a stagnant brand, Hooper suggests taking a page from Kellogg, which after some 50 years, decided not to just print its Rice Krispie Treats recipe on the box, but to cook it up and sell it through vending machines. It is now a $350 million business.

Another successful strategy can be as simple as taking a niche brand and expanding into new markets, like Kraft did with Altoids, after it noticed its huge cult following in Seattle. Then there was Colgate’s story. Looking to stimulate a flat toothpaste market, it came up with Colgate Total to grab sales from older consumers with an item offering gum disease prevention and other benefits. Its sales hit $100 million annually, strengthening its dominance of the market. As noted by Hooper: “You can’t afford to take hits on these core products.””