A Conversation About How Retailers and Manufacturers Communicate

Key topics and top trends at the ECRM 

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I had the privilege of being the featured speaker at a recent ECRM conference, a prestigious “speed dating” event for major retailers and manufacturers. This particular ECRM event catered to every day and holiday cosmetics, toiletries, fragrances, and bath industries. The topic I covered was How to Flex Your Social Media Muscle, so I spent much of my time at the networking events surrounding my speech talking to the participating retailers and manufacturers about their marketing. What I heard was disconnect. Every manufacturer sales rep I spoke with said they would do anything the retailers wanted them to do to support sell-through, and many of them have marketing departments to drive it.  When I spoke with retailers, they often said the manufacturers aren’t giving them what they need, which for most, is regional sales support.  

Every retailer is looking to sell a pre-sold product. They look for brands they know have consumer demand. Retailers are telling us that they want “destination brands,” brands that consumers know by name.  

Product manufacturers and retailers need to strategize and work closely together to support sell-through in their regional markets. Likewise, sales and marketing need to work more closely as well. All marketing is first and foremost to support sales; if sales doesn’t know what marketing is doing, it’s a waste of efforts. If marketing doesn’t know what the retailers are telling sales they need, it’s never going to happen.  

Marketing and sales should be collaborating to build the stores’ confidence in the brand by getting both national and local recognition for it. People buy what other people tell them to try, and it’s a brand’s responsibility to drive new shoppers into stores for their products.  

One of the first steps is to get on the same page about consumer needs. Today’s shopper is obsessed with well-being and seeking natural ways to look and feel healthy.  

Today’s “well-thy” shoppers want retailers to be the source for what they need, when they need it, how they want it.  

This morning they are parents. This afternoon they are executives. Tonight they will be spouses. Tomorrow they will be a child. On Friday, they are foodies. Saturday, yogis. On Sunday, they are travellers.  Brands need to cater to whoever shoppers may be this minute, and well-being is always on the list. The problem, as you have identified, is that with all of the substantial, impactful and wonderful things shoppers are doing, they don’t have time for self-care.  

Trendspotting at the ECRM 

One retailer I spoke with, Dominique Rush, Buyer for The Beauty Collection, wants consumers to know that The Beauty Collection is a family-owned business with close-knit vendor relationships that takes pride in its carefully considered brand portfolio. “Our customer requests and buying team ensure we have the best offerings in our locations,” said Rush. “Customers are ingredient savvy and want clean ingredients in their beauty products. A trend that I have seen grow across the board is fo sustainably sourced products, including the packaging and support collateral. Nowadays, less is more when it comes to packaging and cartons.”

Also speaking to consumer interests, Tony Giovanini, Senior Vice President, ECRM Health & Beauty Care, said, “There was definitely a theme around beauty personalization and wellness, and how consumers are making lifestyle changes, pampering themselves from the comfort of their homes. We saw a wide variety of bath and spa products, including bath bombs, scented soaps, body lotions/moisturizers, bath salts, and candles.”

The theme of the products is focused on pure ingredients that are natural, sustainable and good for you, Giovanini added. “These products were available in single units, as well as in luxury style gift sets for the holidays. We also saw new mask treatments, including traditional but unique face masks, hair masks and hand & foot masks with a focus on style, superfoods and CBD.”

On the cosmetics side, there are some really great luxury style gift sets available at affordable prices for the upcoming Holiday Season.These sets focused on color focused eye pallets and lip glosses. Again, sticking with the lifestyle and DIY theme, the beauty tools have continued to improve as well from implements, applicators, cosmetics bags.

According to Robin Raskin founder of Living in Digital Times, “Beauty and wellness is moving very quickly into the digital age. We’re seeing artificial intelligence being used in facial recognition for personalization of services allowing the customer to experiment with product, gauge their results and make new offers for products including skin care, makeup, hair care, dental, personal hygiene and more.” 

Raskin also predicts the blockchain supply will help improve sourcing for the beauty industry and trends show an emphasis on purity of goods and eco-tasteful packaging and materials. “The line is blurring between cosmetic and overall wellness.” That was apparent in the brands I met with at the event.  

Here are a few of the highlights: 

Classic, function and real-time results.  City Beauty is a classic, luxury beauty brand dedicated to formulating skincare and cosmetics that look amazing and deliver actual, real-time results. They specialize in anti-aging products, but women of all ages love the results along with how they feel. Their main focus is “functional beauty” where all of their products are designed to not only make you look beautiful while you wear them, but to provide deeper benefits that you can actually see. City Beauty was developed for consumers seeking solutions for specific, hard-to-treat skincare concerns rarely addressed by other skincare brands. Although the products can benefit anyone, consumers with visible signs of aging often see the most dramatic results. Each product is formulated not only to give immediate effects, but also provide lasting benefits. 

Born as a digitally-native brand in 2002, City is starting a new chapter of giving both existing and new consumers a hands-on, in-person experience meant to enhance their skincare and beauty journey. Some of the biggest trends that City sees in the industry are greater inclusivity, a growing consumer demand for attainable luxury, and a shift towards enhancing one’s natural beauty. 

“Beauty brands are now showcasing models and brand ambassadors of all ages, genders, and cultures, which makes beauty feel inclusive for a lot more people,” said Allyson Barrio, Director of City Beauty. “There is also a growing demand for professional-grade products that feel luxurious, deliver results, and are attainable. This has especially allowed newer, more agile brands to rival established giants for consumer attention. Leading this massive shift is the growing wellness movement, which has influenced beauty ideals to reflect a more natural, personalized, and health-conscious look.” City Beauty has been a long-time proponent of age-inclusivity, attainable luxury, and products that are as healthy as they are beautiful. 

Thermal wellness made easy.  Parasilk is a company redefining the future of paraffin wax treatments with products and delivery systems for medical, spa and massage professionals, and direct to consumers for at home spa treatments. From athletes, to pain relief, to dry and aging skin, Parasilk hydrates, moisturizes, retexturizes, rejuvenates, soothes and protects your hands and feet.

Accessible anti-aging for years to come. Bellefontaine Switzerland is the Swiss-based luxury skincare company specializing in anti-aging. All of their products contain natural and precious ingredients from the Alps, pure water from glaciers and the most recent discoveries in biotechnology to bring you the best quality products on the market in order to have great skin now and even better skin in the years to come.

All good oils. Peet Bros. has a simple and powerful promise: to deliver more of the premium, moisturizing ingredients their customers value, while remaining 100% palm oil-free. They know the harmful dangers that palm oil puts on our environment, so they are taking a stand to protect the world we call home. Palm oil is one of the largest contributors to global deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity loss; the palm oil industry also has a devastating impact on the environment. So instead, they substitute their products with olive oil, shea butter, hemp oil + CBD. They believe in full ingredient transparency.

Bottling up the best nature has to offer. Faith In Nature believes that everyone should benefit from what the Earth provides. That is why they are passionate about keeping their prices affordable and only using the best natural ingredients to ensure that everyone can afford to go natural because that will truly make a big different. Starting out in the UK, Faith In Nature quickly became the best-known natural beauty brand. They make decisions for the brand that put people and the environment first. 

Self-care part of every day. From body wash and gels to moisturizers to candles to fragrance, Vitabath is a retro brand appealing to a new audience by bringing all of the necessary luxury bath and skincare products to treat yourself at affordable price points. 

Complexion helper. “Tranexamic Acid is set to be a huge ingredient trend, it’s an anti-inflammatory and amazing for addressing skin discoloration whether it’s melasma, post acne hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sunspots or just general dull and uneven=looking skin,” said Stephen Byrne, Head of Global Sales of Amelia Knight, creators of Scientia (see-en-cha), a new beauty brand that is knowledgeable, innovative and upfront. “With hyperpigmentation being one of the most common skin concerns, answers to this complexion complaint are always popular in the industry and market.”

After 15 years at the helm of her family’s cosmetics business, Founder and Creative Director Tiffany Salmon hunted down the best ingredients mother nature has to offer from all over the world and took her vast knowledge of beauty innovation back to the in-house laboratory at Scientia HQ, creating products that are straightforward, transparent and not just make you look good, but feel good too. The Scientia Dusk and Dawn Elixirs are designed to give aromatherapy benefits as well as intense skin nourishment. Take three deep breaths and enjoy invigorating Ginger, Pink Pepper and Fennel (with Dawn) or calming Lavender, Ylang Ylang or Frankincense (with Dusk) to help promote overall better well-being.

“With the majority of people often leading hectic modern lives,” noted Byrne, “research is showing that ‘Anti-Fatigue’ beauty will become a huge trend over the coming years, as consumers look for products that make them look more awake and well rested as a response to leading busier lifestyles.”

For more industry trends and to nurture relationships between manufacturers and retails plan to participate upcoming ECRM events. 

Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.

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Nancy Trent
Nancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting trend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm with an office in Los Angeles. Trent & Company, which launched many fitness brands, grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives. A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at nancy@trentandcompany.com. You may also visit www.trentandcompany.com.

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