Consumers’ appetite for and expectations of newness have opened the door for
smaller beauty brands, especially those that are able to offer a genuine point
of difference in markets dominated by multinationals.
Imogen Matthews • In-Cosmetics
THE WORST of the recession appears to be over, but the road to a full recov- ery for the beauty industry is proving
to be slow. Retailers are taking a hard look
at the brands they stock and have no hesitation in weeding out the weaker ones. In
such an environment, niche brands might
expect to be the losers, but often it is those
that do things differently that are able to
stay the course.
a good idea executed well rises to the top.”
The British Bulldog Approach
Simon Duffy is co-founder of natural men’s
toiletries brand Bulldog, which claims to be
the first natural mass market line for men.
Since its launch in 2008 in UK supermarkets, it has more than held its own against
the behemoths Gillette and Nivea for Men.
Bulldog is now sold in Japan, Sweden and
from July 2010, the U.S., where it launched
in Whole Foods Markets.
“Bulldog does things differently from
the branding through to the communica-
tion. The idea of being different is in our
DNA,” stated Duffy. “We were the first
men’s brand with natural formulations in
the UK and our packaging is also designed
to stand out on shelf against products
which are mostly blacks, blues and silvers.”
As a new brand, Duffy found the
biggest barrier to growth was building
Smashbox Has a Leg Up
Many niche brands dream of being
snapped up by a multinational and becoming an international sensation. But for every
M.A.C and Bobbi Brown, there are dozens
that have failed to make the grade. Niche
brand acquisitions tend to be the exception
these days, reflecting a far more austere climate. The recent acquisition of makeup
brand Smashbox by Estée Lauder may signify a change in attitude toward niche, but
the brand must fit the right criteria.
“One of the key benefits of the acquisition for Estée Lauder is greater coverage in
alternative channels,”pointed out Oru Mohiuddin, home and personal care analyst at
Euromonitor International. “Estée Lauder
derives most of its sales from department
stores, but consumers are gradually shifting
away from such outlets to other channels,
thus threatening the company’s revenues.”
Recently, Estée Lauder has made its
website transactional and has started selling Bobbi Brown, Origins, Clinique and
Ojon on QVC in the U.S.
“It is in this area of alternative channels
where Smashbox offers the greatest bene-
fit,” stated Mohiuddin. “Smashbox has
made good progress in digital and social
media and Estée Lauder expects to benefit
from this expertise.”
The brand sells in specialist retail stores
as well as QVC, where it is ranked as one of
the top 10 brands. Smashbox stands to gain
from greater global coverage with its new
parent’s extensive distribution network.
A Natural Niche