September 2006 - That's A Wrap!

Beauty and the Beast

By Drew Plotkin

So here I am on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Southern California. As sun-worshippers pack the beaches and the barbeques sizzle, I find myself in one of my tried and true favorite weekend hangouts-Sephora. Surprised? So are the countless female shoppers with whom I spend at least a solid hour chatting, asking questions about their purchases, their product preferences-I even ask them about the types of beauty ads and commercials that stand out to them. Why? The answer is simple: Because I’m a guy. And I produce beauty infomercials.

I’ll be the first to admit that up until a few years ago my knowledge of beauty was limited to flipping through the pages of Maxim, and I thought that a “free radical” was a political prisoner who’d been released from a Russian gulag. So how do men learn to sell to women in a category that is inherently foreign to most of us dudes? Sales 101: know your audience. The Benchmarking Company’s Pink Reportâ„¢ reveals that among 1,000-plus women surveyed, 92 percent say advertisers don’t understand them.

So aside from frequent “recon” missions to places like Sephora-and absorbing the revelations of the Pink Panelâ„¢, I’ve uncovered other research techniques to “get to know” the female audience.

Through my informal research and general life experiences, I’ve come to accept the fact that women are more complex than men. Women are more discerning purchasers than men, and they better appreciate product information and education.

They’re impulse buyers, but they’re just as likely to return products that don’t meet their standards or that they find an unnecessary indulgence. They’re highly experiential and care about their appearance and feeling good about themselves. And perhaps most importantly, women make buying decisions upon the recommendation of their “female advisory board.”

So how can you embrace all this subjectivity to create a girlfriend connection with the consumer? For starters, make sure you are actively involving women in the creative process. In my experience with my company, while this obviously means involving female clients, we always make a point of getting input and feedback from women outside the scope of the project. Informal mini-focus groups are critical for producers. We always screen our rough cuts and testimonial footage for female friends, neighbors, relatives-anyone not associated with the project, just so we can get that genuine feedback on whether or not a testimonial is likable, approachable or a “girl’s girl.”

Remember, beauty products make women look good so they can feel good. Sure, science, compelling claims, a unique selling proposition and a solid offer are all critical elements to a successful beauty show. But find a way to understand and connect with the girlfriends at home, and you’ll have a homerun.

Drew Plotkin is the creative director and a partner at Launch DRTV. He can be reached at [email protected].


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