September 2008 - Marketing Skin Deep

For nearly two decades, Murad has been educating women about skin health and proper care. Carey Grange, EVP, direct to consumer, shares the company’s formula for Multichannel marketing.

By Vitisia Paynich

When people at Murad use the term “transparency,” they’re not referring to flawless, luminescent skin-they’re talking about their multichannel marketing strategy.

“We as a company, believe that authenticity is 100-percent important to us. It needs to be a part of everything that we do-bringing total transparency to our customers through authenticity,” says Carey Grange, executive vice president, direct to consumer, at Murad Inc. in Los Angeles. That means putting the customer first in every aspect of the company’s business and giving them different modes of access to the brand and the products.

Electronic Retailer spoke one on one with Grange to learn more about the skincare company and how channels like DRTV, online, retail and social networking have helped to draw attention to the brand.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Howard Murad, a practicing dermatologist, realized through speaking with his patients that there was a real need for products that addressed their skin concerns-from acne problems to aging issues. This inspired Dr. Murad to use his background as a pharmacist to formulate a line of skincare products. In 1989, he founded Murad Inc., a skincare company that distributed products to spas and salons.

Dr. Murad made his first foray into the DRTV world in 1992 when someone suggested he do an anti-aging infomercial to market his products. Unfortunately, the DRTV campaign failed, leaving the aspiring entrepreneur without his life savings and with a warehouse full of inventory. He resolved to give DRTV another try, only this time the outcome was much different. When the second infomercial aired in 1994, it not only did well, it put Murad on the map.

“The type of impact that television can make from a brand awareness standpoint is far more significant than what you can get alone through a salon-and-spa distribution strategy,” notes Grange. Thus, she says multichannel marketing has been a part of the business strategy almost since Murad’s inception.

One of the company’s most successful DRTV products has been Murad’s Acne Complex, which has been recognized as one of the top 10 infomercials in television history. In 2007, Grange and her team began planning a DRTV campaign around the Resurgence product line.

“We felt very strongly about bringing a new message in a very cluttered anti-aging market,” says Grange. What’s more, the company was determined to become the leading authority on skin education.

Although Murad experienced earlier DRTV success with its Acne Complex infomercial, the Resurgence campaign, however, proved quite challenging. For one thing, the product line was already selling in retail stores and at higher price points. Grange says the main reason being that the formulas are highly concentrated, and therefore, there are no fillers or fluff. So how did Murad tailor Resurgence to fit a DR format?

“We had to come up with a product configuration that we could sell at a price point that made sense for a mass consumer in order to bridge them over to a more premium brand.” Thus, the company took its full-size retail products, and cut them into thirds, creating a 30-day trial-size kit at a $39.95 price point. In comparison, the full-size products are part of a 90-day supply.

“If you purchase our products individually at retail price, it would be $185 just for the three individual products that are part of our kit,” she explains. “And then if you were to add in the bonus items at full sizes, it’s $341.50.”

High-end value is something Murad emphasized in its DR campaign. Unlike some major brands that run promotions offering $100 worth of trial-size samples in exchange for a minimum product purchase, Murad doesn’t think that you need to give away the farm to gain customers.

The company believed strongly in the product and in its problem-solving marketing strategy. If the consumer is convinced that this product is going to address her concerns, then she’s going to keep buying it. “You don’t have to sweeten the deal all that much,” notes Grange.

Popular TV personality and former “Good Morning America” co-host Joan Lunden says Resurgence makes her skin look and feel 10 years younger.

When Murad decided to target female baby-boomers (age 35-60) for its Resurgence product line, the company knew it needed an infomercial host who not only embodied that target customer, but who also believed in the product. So, who better to speak to that generation than well-known TV personality and former “Good Morning America” co-host Joan Lunden? Considered the quintessential baby-boomer, Lunden has also tried to bring public awareness to women’s health issues.

Another plus was the fact that the 57-year-old actually uses Resurgence and has seen the results firsthand. “She’s very passionate about the product,” explains Grange. “She herself says that her skin looks and feels10 years younger. Joan is a real product user and that was critical to us.”

With Lunden on board, the next step was to enlist the help of longtime creative partner Launch DRTV of Los Angeles. Murad has worked with the production company now for three years, and has seen a significant improvement in its business.

“You’re not going to run an infomercial unless you have that ROI,” Grange says. “So, it has to sell.” Murad’s earlier infomercials followed the traditional DR, hard-sell approach; however, she admits it just wasn’t in line with the integrity of the brand. “We’re a more prestigious, luxury, high-price point store brand. The slick sell doesn’t work, and we really needed beautiful production values.”

Grange describes Launch DRTV as “a dream to work with because they really function more as an ad agency partner rather than a production company that’s just executing an infomercial.” One thing that makes this relationship so successful, according to Grange, is that the production company is comfortable with going outside of themold.

Certainly, there are key selling elements and concepts that work, but within that you can really be dynamic with how you add entertainment and creative elements and also tell the company’s story effectively, she contends. For example, with the Resurgence infomercial, “if you watch it, I think you really walk away with a feel for Murad’s brand essence beyond Resurgence. You understand Dr. Murad’s philosophy of wellness and skin health, which is really important because that’s a higher, overarching goal.”

The infomercial began with a simple introduction to the Resurgence product, followed by testimonials and then Lunden as host. “We really personalized the show to Joan’s experience and to the testimonial experience. We’re really organic in our approach to editing, and I think it takes a special team to be able to do that,” says Grange.

When it came to buying media, Murad went with a diverse strategy. Its agency of record is Cmedia of Portland, Ore. Grange says they concentrated on all the major broadcast stations in the major markets like New York and Los Angeles, along with a select group of cable networks, which included TLC, Lifetime, National Geographic, E!, HGTV, Women’s Entertainment and the Food Network, among others.

“We factor in two things in our media,” notes Grange. “One, of course, is ROI; everything we do is with a focus on that. But we’re always cognizant of the role that our media plays in generating brand awareness and driving retail sell-through. That’s why we focus on the major markets, but we also make sure that we’re getting sufficient daypart coverage.”

In Spring 2008, Murad launched the Resurgence infomercial. Grange will not disclose actual sales figures from the Resurgence campaign; however, she does reveal that Murad set some very aggressive goals for the product line and “it’s significantly exceeded those expectations by over 30 percent.” And that was from the company’s first creative without any tweaking and at very significant media levels right out of the gate. By Summer 2008, Resurgence ranked among the top five in the beauty category.

The Resurgence product line includes the Age-balancing Night Cream, Age-diffusing Serum and Renewing Cleansing Cream.

With the DRTV campaign up and running and sales performing at peak levels, the next step was partnering with San Diego-based Permission Interactive to host its two DR sites: and Why not draw customers to the Murad website?

“We don’t want our customers to just show up at and get lost,” notes Grange. Murad currently has 88 consumer products and 45 professional strength products, which are marketed as 10 distinct product lines.

The more clicks that you make customers go through on your site, the less likely that customer is going to make a purchase, she says. “That’s why it was important for us to use a real traditional website, where she can respond to an infomercial, go to a website and read more about the product if she wants to.”

Grange says the point is to make it an in-and-out DR shopping experience, where there’s no opportunity for confusion. She adds that Permission Interactive really worked with her team on taking that traditional DR shopping cart and turning it more into a branded experience. Grange says Murad wants customers to feel confident about placing their order.

Also, the company doesn’t want its customers to check out until they’ve seen everything in their shopping cart and decided to complete their transaction. Grange admits this is breaking some cardinal rules in standard online marketing, but she argues that Murad is interested in building a lifetime relationship with its customers and being their first point of contact.

“We are also working fast and feverishly at optimizing all of our online assets for search engine optimization,” she explains. “We have a whole paid search campaign.” In addition, Murad is currently in the middle of a six-month deal with in which Resurgence is featured on its site. Grange says the campaign is doing extremely well. In fact, the company has created a direct-mail program behind the online campaign that targets the leads, as well as Murad’s new customer base.

As a multichannel marketer, Murad utilizes catalog, direct mail and e-mail marketing, along with social networking. “Those are part of our overall marketing and communications strategies,” says Grange. “Ultimately, the traditional direct response approach has really been about the company selling to the customer. But in this age of social networking, what’s happening is that customers are selling to other customers.”

To reach out to those clients, Murad created a forum that enables them to get to know the company and the brand more intimately, hoping that they will “buy into the Murad corporate culture, be a part of it and understand it.”

That’s where the Murad Insider comes into play. The e-newsletter is sent out to the company’s top-tier customers. As customers gradually come into the Murad fold, they are given more access, thereby strengthening the customer relationship and establishing brand loyalty-a tactic that also helps to grow its membership clubs.

Murad loyalists are also active on the company’s blog, exchanging tips and experiences about products and skincare treatments. The Murad Skin Deep Blog also allows customers to interact with the company’s team of skincare experts.

Murad’s DR marketing has helped to strengthen the brand in the retail channel, as well. The company’s skincare products are available in 250 locations. In fact, Murad ranks as the number-one clinical skincare brand in such retailers as Sephora, Ulta and Bath & Body Works flagship stores. The products are also available in over 3,000 day spas, salons and medical offices.

Says Grange, “I think what’s important for retailers to understand, especially other consumer goods companies that have played more in the general advertising space, is it’s not enough to just have the infomercial campaign. You really need to connect the dots for the consumer.” Using Sephora as an example, Murad would team with the retailer to share the performance of Murad’s keyword searches in which both could purchase the same terms, or exchange placement on respective home pages and in e-mail blasts.

In 2009, Murad will celebrate its 20th anniversary. So where does Murad see itself in the next five years? “We talk about that a lot as a company, and our position is that we’re transforming skincare. I know that sounds like a lofty goal, but we feel very strongly about taking a leadership position,” says Grange.

That also means being a driving leader in innovation, however, not just in terms of product development. As Grange puts it: “We apply innovation to everything that we do in our marketing and communications efforts and in our distribution strategy. That’s why multichannel marketing has always been important to us-even before anyone else was really doing it-and we will continue down that path.”

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