Where is the “personal” in personal care branding?
With products becoming increasingly commoditised in the beauty and personal care (BPC) category and customers jumping on new trends every few days—true differentiation is both hard to achieve and the urgent need of the hour.
Even if your grooming routine consists of nothing but soap, water, and shaving cream, you couldn't possibly have missed the relentless onslaught of new brands across skincare, body care, hair care, and beauty launched in the fast-growing beauty and personal care market in India in recent years.
From pricey serums and face washes filled with active ingredients to hair products that claim to solve a range of issues and colour cosmetics that offer 26 shades of pink lipstick—the choices are immense.
And yet, a midnight scroll on the Nykaa or Tira app will leave you confused about what to buy as these brands are almost identical in their offering.
One can find 12 different face washes that have tea tree oil or eight different brands that offer shampoo with onion oil. Nearly every skincare brand is offering some combination of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide in its moisturisers, and shower gels are virtually indistinguishable except for fragrance and price.
With products becoming increasingly commoditised in the beauty and personal care (BPC) category and customers jumping on new trends every few days—true differentiation is both hard to achieve and the urgent need of the hour. Especially since the category is far from saturated, with the market expected to grow from $18 billion to $25 billion by 2025.
One way to achieve differentiation is to bring back the “person” into the brand and marketing equation and not just speak to the “customer.” Humans buy with their emotions and not logic, even if they think they make rational choices.
Despite the farce of comparing features and price, ultimately a gut feeling about brand trustworthiness—a subtle, visceral reaction to design or packaging and a sense of being acknowledged by a brand video—these things drive the choice.
This is why brand strategy and not performance marketing is critical for long-term sustainable growth. An astute brand strategy will ask hard questions on customer attitudes, category evolutions, cultural influences, and business vision and transform the insights into a brand cleverly positioned and communicated.
In fact, neuromarketing has established the undeniable connection between marketing messages, brain activity, emotions, and attention. The more brands target the emotions of consumers, the more likely they are to pay attention to your brand. From a positioning that taps into powerful but hidden human needs and visual storytelling that reinforces a consumer’s sense of self to copy that evokes laughter and offers that invoke FOMO, emotional branding is a powerful way to stand apart from the competition.
The second level of differentiation is customer experience. Many emerging brands rely too heavily on Pinterest-inspired social media feeds and aggressive performance marketing to win customers.
But very few focus on the brand experience, especially once the customer makes a purchase. Brands would do well to drive effort and marketing budgets to create unique content, develop partnerships with other brands and retailers, ideate limited edition collections, and use UGC to enable retention.
All of these strategies have emotion at their heart… giving the consumer new reasons to feel valued, entertained, excited, and seen.
Make no mistake, emotion is at the essence of brand differentiation because a brand is the feeling your customer has long after the transaction is complete. Make sure it's a positive one.
Radhika Butala is the Founder and CEO of The Better Collective.
Edited by Suman Singh
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)