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Beauty Radar Screen: March 3, 2011

Benjamin Cohen's company, BobCar Experiential Media, hopes to revolutionize the way consumers and retailers interact.

Five years ago, Benjamin Cohen, a retailer with 20 years of experience, saw a world of marketing potential in a battery-powered three-wheeled vehicle.

In December, Cohen founded a company called BobCar Experiential Media, in the hopes of revolutionizing the way consumers and retailers interact.

“The concept is a mobile guerrilla marketing initiative,” said Cohen. “It’s a way to help the retailers, manufacturers and consumers at the same time.”

Cohen’s patented BobCar concept is based around a fleet of 100 zero-emission BobCars, which are driven to strategic locations and parked to generate brand awareness — so far for the technology sector and soon to be for the beauty industry — and to support consumer interaction.

“The goal is to interact with consumers, gain their attention,” said Cohen. “We spend three to seven minutes with them, handing out samples and informational material, answering questions.”

The BobCar, which can be used indoors and outdoors, can travel up to 50 miles on a single charge. Cohen provides not only the cars themselves but also three to seven brand ambassadors, trained to deliver brand-specific information to the consumer and provide hands-on interaction with new products and initiatives.

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“The inside of the BobCar is made over to reflect the brand message with banners, company logo, et cetera,” said Cohen. “Each car becomes the look and feel [of the client]. We custom-build them for their exact needs.”

In 2009 and 2010, the BobCar concept was leveraged for the technology field. Parked outside of Best Buy stores (on behalf of BobCar client Clear 4G wireless Internet) and T-Mobile retail outlets (also a client), BobCars, said Cohen, generated sales increases of between 78 percent and 200 percent a day.

“Part of what we offer in our program is providing our companies with the raw data [that reflects] what customers are responding to and what is being sold because of the BobCar program,” said Cohen. “We bring together marketing and sales.”

Cohen maintains that the BobCar’s versatility is one of the concept’s key selling points.

“We can go to malls, shopping centers, events like fashion week, parades, street fairs and festivals,” said Cohen, who has recently announced his plan to use the BobCar as a “mobile beauty boutique” for the beauty industry.

“The BobCar certainly brings a new dimension to retail, and I hope the industry will embrace it as they should,” said Rochelle R. Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation.

Cohen presented his concept at the Personal Care Products Council’s annual meeting in Palm Beach this week, where the first of his Mobile Beauty Boutique BobCars was introduced to cosmetics companies and editors alike.

“The BobCar brings much-needed novelty and buzz to our industry,” said Theo Spilka, vice president of new business development and licensing worldwide at Firmenich. “It’s like the next generation Beetle creating a high curiosity factor. It has what we call ‘shelf presence.’”