Prestige Perfumes: The Cultural Marketing Exceptionality

Prestige Perfumes:The Cultural Marketing Exceptionality

Frédéric Miedzinski*
Howard Moskowitz **
Batool Batalvi ***

Prestige perfume is not a product like others
Many people, including those in the perfume industry, think that prestige perfume is a product like any other, to be handled by traditional marketing approaches. This would be convenient for management … but it is not the case. Despite the fact that prestige perfumes are sold and bought as any other products, they are truly different.

One does not buy a prestige perfume for the benefit of “a unique selling proposition”. Prestige perfume is an involving product; one wears a prestige perfume to display one’s personality. We can indeed regard prestige perfumes as “a cultural marketing exception”.

And there lies the problem. Not everyone wants to express the same message: “tell me what you wear and I’ll tell you who you are!” A same perfume mix, appropriate and effective for one brand of perfume, proves disastrous for another.

The DNA of a Prestige Perfume brand
It is through the values of its ‘brand’ that a perfume enters into the personality of its user. Indeed, women never buy a prestige perfume of a brand with which they don’t feel some affinity … as the brand is meant to speak volume about themselves. Thus to be successful, a perfume mix should fit its “Brand DNA”, that is to say that it has to meet the specific needs of women who are “in affinity with” its brand.

The DNA of a brand varies from one brand to another. For example, research suggests that the DNA of the Estée Lauder brand is made up of “good American values,” whereas the DNA of the Calvin Klein brand is made up of “rule-breaking values”.

Being ‘in affinity’ with a brand is not particularly difficult, in practice. Research by Open Air market research, unveils that for every person who buys a brand there are approximately six or seven who may be ‘in affinity’ with the brand, but who do not buy. For example, women in affinity with the brand Estée Lauder amount to 45% of American women, and women in affinity with Calvin Klein may amount to 35% of American women.

To succeed, a prestige perfume should fit its brand’s DNA. For example, “the wise beauty concept” works when it is expressed by Estée Lauder in its perfume “Beautiful,” but the same concept fails when it is conveyed by Calvin Klein in its perfume “Beauty”. In the same way, “the rule-breaking hallucinogen concept” leads to a success when it is expressed by Calvin Klein in its perfume “Euphoria,” but ends up in somewhat of a disaster when it is conveyed under the Estée Lauder brand in its perfume “Beyond Paradise”.

Screenshot 2014-12-15 at 12.40.06

Defining a Brand’s legitimate territory
A brand’s ‘legitimate territory’ is a function of its DNA. The “territory” is defined by:

-the “types of women” that the brand attracts with its perfumes; “classy women” or “naughty girls” …and so forth,

-the “positioning that the brand grants users” through its perfumes; the positioning of a high-end upper class woman or the positioning of fashionable trendy woman, etc.

-the “message” that the brand conveys through its perfumes: such as the promise of seduction or of radiance, etc.

-the “product benefit” that the brand puts forward: such as the benefit of an excellent scent or an acquaintance with a celebrity, etc.

-the “tone” that the brand uses for advertising its perfumes: such as a romantic tone or a “rock’n roll” tone, etc.

-the “setting” in which the brand places its perfume communication: such as an exotic setting or an urban setting, etc.

-the “type of femininity” that the brand uses through its models: such as eternal femininity (grace) or desire, attraction (hot, sexual) etc.

-the “families of fragrances” that the brand uses for its perfumes (its “natural olfactory territory”): rather fruity, sweet, sparkling or amber, powdery, sensual, etc.

The legitimate territory of a brand, as defined by these eight criteria, is broad enough for a brand to exert its creativity. It moves creativity in the right direction by drawing boundaries beyond which a brand should not venture. A corollary to this notion of legitimate territory is that which may be fruitful for one brand indeed often turns out to be counterproductive for another brand. For example, “OneMillion” would not have succeeded had it been branded Chanel. Correspondingly, “Bleu” would not have succeed had it been branded Paco Rabanne.

Market research – the need for sector experience and ‘experimenting empathy’
By now the point has been stressed that one should not deal with the psychology-laden, identity-laden world of a new perfume using the simplistic, normative, and often inappropriate methods of market research, methods which may work for cereals, services, and finances, but fail in the world of perfume. One ought not pre-test a new perfume according to the “plain Jane” (or “everybody’s”) criteria; women and men wear a fragrance specifically to stand apart from the average Joe, and thus to define THEMSELVES as they wish themselves to be. It’s far more sensible to assess any new proposition of perfume according to the DNA of its brand’s criteria, that is to say according to the specific expectations of the women in affinity with its brand.

It is however impossible to identify these specific criteria by asking direct (and naïve) questions. One might be better advised to adopt an indirect way to achieve this pivotal goal. This is “Mind Genomics3”, conjoint analysis applied to perfume. It is based on the statement of fact that “although people are not able to tell by themselves what they want, they can easily assess a product comprising a mixture of benefits”.

Thanks to the science of “experimental design”, submitting each respondent to 50 ideas of perfumes, made up of the seven components of a perfume mix, Mind Genomics elicits the role of each dimension (its “utility”) in the response of a woman towards a perfume. Each criterion can be positive, neutral or negative … depending on the brand: “what is good for a brand can be toxic for another”. The science, the experimenting, is well worked out. What remains is the empathy, the intuition, the creative, which focuses the science, and is rewarded by the resulting knowledge.

Rating a new perfume mix “by variable geometry” depending on the brand
Once we have established the expectations of women in affinity with a brand towards a prestige perfume, the marketer now ‘profiles’ any new mix of perfume according to the DNA’s of the perfume brand. This is achieved through the “Utility Rating System” that grants the new mix points when it is associated with a feature of “high utility” for the brand and subtracts points when it is associated with a “counterproductive” item.

We can define this approach as the “rating by variable geometry” because one does not use the same criteria, depending on the brand. Why would we consider the opinions of women that don’t like your brand when assessing a new proposition of perfume mix of your brand?

The bottom line – WiiFY (What’s in it for YOU?)
Techniques which have proved reliable for many other products fall short for prestige perfumes. WHY? Because perfumes are a cultural marketing exception that demands sector knowledge and experimental science conjoined with empathy.

Ignoring this oddity may drive a brand, operating out of the main stream, to the bruising experience of a failed launch because women in synch with this brand are precisely looking to “stand-out from the crowd”. The mass market approach, one size fits all, simply does not work. Psychologists, experts in psychodynamics, know the reality of individuality. It’s time that the perfumers and perfume marketers of challenging brands avail themselves of this science-based empathy and intuition. Lest the perfume market may stall, stagnate and become dull … at the expense of everybody for “joie de vivre” is the cornerstone of perfumes.

* Frédéric Miedzinski is a Market Researcher having worked for brands: Alexander Mc Queen, Armani, Azzaro, Boucheron, Burberry, Cacharel, Calvin Klein,  Carolina Herrera,  Cartier,  Cerruti,  Chloé,  Christian Dior,  Chopard,  Davidoff,  Estée Lauder,  Escada,  Ferragamo,  Givenchy,  Gucci, Guerlain, Issey Miyaké,  Jean Patou,  Jennifer Lopez,  Jil Sander,  Joop, Kenzo,  Lacoste,  Lanvin,  Lolita Lempicka,  Montblanc,  Nina  Ricci,  PacoRabanne,  Roger & Galet,   Sarah  Jessica Parker, Shiseïdo,  Vivienne Westwood,  Yves Saint-Laurent,  Zegna,  …among others.
**Howard Moskowitz is an American market researcher and psychophysicist. He is best known for the detailed study he made of the types of spaghetti sauce and horizontal segmentation. By providing a large number of options for consumers, Moskowitz pioneered the idea of intermarket variability as applied to the food industry. Dr. Moskowitz graduated from Harvard University in 1969 with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology. Prior to that he graduated Queens College (New York), Phi Beta Kappa, with degrees in mathematics and psychology. He has written/edited sixteen books, has published well over 300 articles and serves on the editorial board of major journals.
***Mrs Batool Batalvi is a Strategist Psychologist / Psychoanalyst, co-owner of SB&B Marketing Research (Canada). She integrates leading-edge psychotherapeutic techniques with her strong entrepreneurial background when managing qualitative research projects. She has successfully utilized Transactional analysis, Gestalt, Cognitive and Psychodynamic approaches, among others, to gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and emotions. This makes each project innovative, insightful and a compelling force for change – which has earned recognition and enthusiastic praise from international clients and research agencies.
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The Open World Standard Solution that unveils what’s going on in Azerbaijan

The Open World Standard Solution that unveils what’s going on in Azerbaijan
by Frédéric Miedzinski

The « One by One Brand Pull Study » has been the most popular Open World Standard Solution for 13 years.

It has been used for 9 consecutive years for Goodyear tyres in 32 countries and has recently been applied to measuring the appeal of brands of canned vegetables in Eastern Europe, including Azerbaijan.

Before detailing the insights of the research from this very interesting country, … regarding canned vegetables, let’s summarize the principle of the “One to One Brand Pull” approach.

Goy-Gol

Goy-Gol Natural Reserve

. Principles of the “One to One Brand Pull” approach

  • We ask the same factual questions that are asked in any brand equity measure
  • Instead of leaving these factual questions scattered with no concrete understanding of your marketing management, we cluster them according to the five building blocks of brand equity:
    . The Foothold that the different brands have on the market, as computed from the classic “marketing indexes”: awareness, evocations, purchase, availability in distribution, advertising recall
    . The Economic image, i.e its products’ value for money
    . The Identity image, i.e the participation of the brand to the client’s personality:
    . The Emotional image, i.e the glamourous image:
    . The Ethical image, i.e the respect that the brand shows to people and environment
    All of these components stem from attributes that already lie in the existing questionnaire.
  • Instead of asking only direct questions about the brand’s appeal (as purchase intention) that are never confirmed in the real life, we build-up a model that measures the Individual Brand Pull that each consumer experiences toward each brand, as driven from its position on the five main (above) dimensions.
    This measure of the brand equity is fully comparable from one country to another as it is calculated and it does not depend on cultural ways of answering.

The active ingredient for computing this Individual Brand Pull is discriminant analysis. The data is collected via the “Open World Online Panel” encompassing 6.5 million consumers worldwide.

Cityscape of Baku

Cityscape of Baku

. The Azerbaijani case in the Brand Pull study

This technique has allowed the following insights that would never have emerged with scattered marketing indexes and image attributes that these kinds of studies usually provide.

  • In contrast to other Eastern countries (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan), where the scrutinized international brand holds sway, its lower sales in Azerbaijan is to be found in its lower appeal in respect of the local brand… and not because of limited distribution, as suspected. Its average Brand Pull is indeed twice as low as the local brand.
  • This situation creates an immediate downside, impacting on sales. Only one in
    five consumer experiences sufficient interest in the brand (with an Individual Brand Pull superior to 0.5) to spark a purchase (while the local brand reaches a workable appeal amongst three in five consumers).
  • Contrary to what the international brand anticpated because of its higher price, once a consumer experiences a sufficient interest in the brand, she transforms her appeal into actual purchase.
  • The priority is thus to increase the appeal of the international brand (its average Brand Pull) by advertising since neither the salesforce nor the distribution is at stake.
  • A campaign conducted after the test, confirms that advertising is the right way to improve the pull. Those women that recall the ad experience an appeal (Individual Brand Pull) twice as strong as those that had not seen it. And this higher appeal is totally workable since it prompts a purchase.
    Women, having seen the ad, are indeed almost three times more likely to purchase the international brand than the women who had not.
    *  A more detailed analysis shows that the advertising is particularly efficient on the “emotional” building block of the international brand (the ones who have seen the ad have four times stronger emotional image than those that have not) (besides, the foothold through the presence in mind of course)
    *  Our conclusion was that, although it was a good start, this campaign had only gone half of the way. Our recommendation was to come up with a new campaign, more focused on the product quality (economic building block). Again, contrary to other countries where the international brand’s products are perceived as superior to the local brands’, it is not the case in Azerbaijan. It is because the local brand has run a disparaging campaign on the International brand’s products: “Our products are young, freshly harvest from our fields while those of the international brand are old, collected years ago and transported from a remote foreign country”.

Surakhani Fire Temple

This story tells how an effective market research tool allows us to better understand what’s going on in a given market and leads to workable recommendations for the client.

The “One by One Brand Pull study” is moreover easy to sell since it retains all of the questions included in a client’s earlier questionnaire, enabling us to produce the classic and comparable report, as well as our new analysis.

All Open World partners will come up with this proposition of “One by One Brand Pull” each time they are asked for a brand study.
It will definitely stand out from the classic bids.

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Credible Brands

Is Sinterklaas geloofwaardig?

Uit ons rapport “Geloofwaardige merken 2012” kwamen Diederik Samson, ING en AH als meest geloofwaardige merken naar voren. Wij vroegen ons af hoe Sinterklaas zou scoren op de eigenschappen die een merk geloofwaardig maken.

De criteria die Daccle gebruikt om geloofwaardigheid te meten zijn:

Trust, Authenticity, Transparency, Affirmation, Listening en Responsiveness. Er kunnen op ieder kenmerk scores gegeven worden van -100 t/m +100.

Aan de koffietafel, met wat speculaas en pepernoten erbij, kwam het team van Daccle tot de volgende subscores:

Trust (vertrouwen): doet dit merk wat het belooft? Ervaring leert jonge mensen dat er ieder jaar weer schoentjes gevuld worden en kinderen precies krijgen wat ze graag willen hebben op pakjesavond. Score: 94

Authenticity (echtheid): heeft dit merk oog voor de consument en niet alleen voor de eigen zaak? Hoge score hier voor de sint die op zijn eigen verjaardag cadeautjes aan anderen uitdeelt. Score: 98

Transparency (transparantie): is het merk open en eerlijk over de producten. Daar zijn de meningen over verdeeld. Open en eerlijk is niet helemaal één op één de combineren met Sinterklaas, kinderen komen daar rond hun 8ste levensjaar achter. Score: 55

Affirmation (bevestiging): wordt dit merk door veel andere mensen positief beoordeeld? Ondanks af en toe een huilend kind dat angstig is of teleurgesteld, zijn de meeste kinderen en volwassenen zeer positief. Score: 90

Listening (luisteren): is het eenvoudig om vragen en opmerkingen door te geven? Bij geen enkel ander door ons onderzocht merk zijn er zoveel mogelijkheden om contact te maken. Internet, post en zelf brieven die in een schoen gedaan worden, bereiken hun doel. Score: 99

Responsiveness (toegankelijkheid): doet dit merk iets met vragen en opmerkingen? Daar wordt wisselend over gedacht. Wanneer je de vragen er uit filtert die buiten het bereik van Sinterklaas liggen (bijvoorbeeld een Porsche, een broertje of zusje, een nieuwe baan) dan scoort dit merk hoog. Ongecorrigeerd is de score: 80.

 

Conclusie:

Met een score van 86 kan van Sinterklaas gezegd worden dat hij een zeer geloofwaardig merk is.

 

Vraagje:

Volgend jaar gaan we weer een groot aantal merken laten beoordelen op geloofwaardigheid. Kent u een merk waarvan u de geloofwaardigheid zou willen laten meten, of heeft u zelf een merk dat u in ons onderzoek mee wilt laten nemen, stuur dan een mail naar rvanlieshout@daccle.nl

 

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