Retail success from brand consultants
Brand consultants in retail; what can other retailers learn from the success of beauty advisors?
Think about personal health-monitoring equipment, wines and spirits, personal computers, mobile phones, gardening goods, fitness goods
You've seen them: (usually) women who catch your eye from behind the beauty counters in department stores and in Boots.
The President and CEO of the Lauder Group, Fabrizio Freda, puts the business's latest financial success, (an impressive 6% like-for-like growth in sales worldwide in today's tricky market) down to the brand support from beauty advisors.
So how could other retailers and brand owners learn and benefit from service innovation along these lines?
Beauty is an emotionally-driven category, with high added value through its branding. The functional product benefits are hard to measure directly oneself; customers rely on feedback from others to judge if a purchase is going to be, or has been, successful. Often the professionally qualified 'friend'; the beauty consultant is called upon; someone whose advice is actually so valued that she is returned to, again and again.
For the retailer, there's a reputation and branding gain in being able to present a team of trained professionals, funded by the brand owners, together with glamorous and aspirational 'islands' in their stores. There's also the opportunity to incentivise a group of sales people directly on particular merchandise with direct bonuses related to sales, separatindependent from the rest of the store.
So what other product categories share these characteristics? High added value potential, customers looking for advice, reassurance and feedback, retailers who could benefit from both displaying and demonstrating a higher level of professional advice?
Wines and spirits: taste is so subjective and many consumers are eager to know more, and show off their knowledge too with their friends, and an area of growth for brand.
Products for personal health monitoring: for instance, choosing the right measure for monitoring blood pressure, diabetes, and even for temperature checks
Personal computers: so much opportunity, especially for those who are not so confident with computers.
Mobile phones: Same again really. Brilliantly branded shops, but the quality of customer service is miles away from that which customers need.
Gardening goods: plants, seeds, display features, tools; what an unexploited area for brands and advice.
Fitness goods: we all want to know how to use what equipment and what effect it's going to have.
How might you find new sales growth by adding value through personal branded advice? It's a question of borrowing ideas, understanding the structure of what makes them work, and the motivations of the teams.