Beauty consumers no longer have any patience for products that don’t live up to their promises, said Alisa Beyer of the Benchmarking Group, who opened The Fashion Group International’s discussion April 29 about reinvention in today’s challenging marketplace.

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The panel, moderated by Karen Young, chief operating officer of the Young Group, included Thia Breen, president for North America for the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.; Allen Burke, director of beauty merchandising for QVC, and Maureen Kelly, creator and chief operating officer for Tarte cosmetics.

Beyer identified six “macro psycho-cultural trends” that she said would continue into 2011. Among the trends Beyer named were the consumer’s growing desire for calming “me moments,” a renewed fascination with self-renovation, and a feeling of entitlement, meaning that products women buy must perform as they say they will.

For Breen, success comes from listening to the 28 brands she manages under the Lauder umbrella. “The [brands] talk about the innovation that they need and we pitch to R&D [in those terms],” she said, also citing the importance of arming beauty consultants with information and delivering it to consumers with a “high touch” strategy. At the end of the day, though, Breen put it plainly, “great product is still king.”

“The customer responds when the product is right,” said Burke about QVC’s beauty category, which he says shows “significant growth every year.” “We focus on giving [her] a good experience and making her so happy that she’ll tell her friends.”

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