Monday, August 28, 2006

Dark Victory?

The first reviews are in on Chandler Burr’s new perfume criticism column for the New York Times. Burr is the author of the book The Emperor of Scent about Luca Turin. As GCI reported last Friday, Burr will use the space to rate perfumes and other scented items on a four-star system.

Mimifroufrou at Scented Salamander questioned the four-star rating system. Blogger Arianna Huffington weighed in on the new Scent Strip column in the New York Times, not because she’s a fan of fragrance or of author/critic Chandler Burr, but rather to make a point about what the paper is NOT covering. Any press is good press, right?

So, if you saw the column in yesterday’s paper, what did you think? Can a high-profile column on fragrance be a shot in the arm for the industry? Do you regularly read a beauty or fragrance blog?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rethinking the Act

I remember watching plate-spinning acts on television as a kid, holding my breath, waiting for the wobbly dish to crash to the floor and feeling the rush of relief as the performer got to the china in the nick of time. These days, who among us hasn’t felt like the performer in a plate spinning act, trying to give every critical function or process the attention required in this increasingly complex business environment? I was thinking about plate spinning on a particularly hectic day and it came to mind later in relation to a discussion I was having about outsourcing.

Outsourcing, as we know, is paying outside experts to do work once performed by company employees. Companies outsource human resources, advertising and public relations, accounting and, more frequently today, manufacturing and packaging. Marketers save money on equipment and labor, using those resources instead for the critical product development, sales and marketing functions.

What are the business challenges that are making you consider outsourcing? What skills or functions are you looking to have done outside your organization? What do you think is the future of outsourcing in the beauty industry?

Incidentally, plate spinning goes back 2000 years in Chinese culture. Fifty years ago, people thought the art form had peaked and could not be innovated, but not so. It seems that the best of these performances today include two or more people spinning plates and doing other acrobatic feats AT THE SAME TIME. Maybe that means there’s hope for all of us—we just have to find the right partners and rethink the act.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Every Business a Stage

I mentioned the Experience Economy in my last post, in the quote from, and I wanted to go back to that idea. The Experience Economy, as defined by authors B. Joseph Pine and John H. Gilmore in their 1999 book The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage is simply the next step after the Service Economy, a continuum that started with the Agrarian Economy way back when farming was the way of life. It seems that what consumers want even now is An Experience along with their purchase. The concept “staging of experiences” earned a Businessweek Best Idea of 2005 and seems to still have some steam.

So, the question of the day is: Are you providing an experience for your customers when they purchase your products or services? How do you describe the experience surrounding your product or service? If you used to provide an experience but have moved on, to what did you move?

In case you’re curious, Gilmore wrote in 2003 that the next economic stage will be a Transformation Economy, in which “businesses will charge not just for experiences but for the demonstrated outcomes based on those experiences.”

What form might this next economy take in the beauty industry?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Innovation Obsession

The latest newsletter from the folks at popped into my inbox last week. Themed “Innovation Overload,” the authors tell us that clever people from around the world are coming up with so many great ideas that even the innovation blogs are having trouble keeping up. The implications of all this, according to are
• “Innovation isn’t rocket science. It’s an obsession with understanding or creating what makes consumers happy…”
• “Innovation is not necessarily about serious people in white coats puttering about in R&D labs. In an experience economy (which we’re still in, like it or not), marketing innovations rule.”
• No matter where you live in this big world, innovation is happening all around you. All you have to do is look for it. is an Amsterdam-based independent trend firm founded by Reinier Evers. It gets information on consumer trends and business ideas from many thousands of trend spotters around the world. Their story is at

Three emerging trends spotlighted in the August issue are Upgrade Everything, Daily Lubricants and Online Oxygen. They all sound intriguing but my favorite is Upgrade Everything. The point is that “even the most mundane products and services are now being upgraded, to provide consumers with comfort, status and beauty, or at least the illusion thereof, and to provide the brands that produce them with fat margins.” Target’s Design for All philosophy fits right in with Upgrade Everything.

Where do your new product ideas come from? Is it time to upgrade your product line? Is all this innovation good for us?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Join the Conversation

The earliest communities came together out of the desire for mutual protection against predators and nature and for the division of labor, all in the interest of survival. Today, with our protection left to the professionals, people seek like-minded individuals to share information to grow in a business, interest or skill.

GCI’s BeautyUnion Today is the online place to discuss news and resources of interest to the beauty industry. I’m excited to launch this forum to share more of the interesting information that crosses my desk every day, and to invite you to add your thoughts and comments to my postings. So, let’s get started.

The news last week of P&G’s 36% net income growth in its fiscal fourth quarter got a lot of business press coverage. Bruce Nussbaum comments regularly on innovation and consumer experience in his blog, NussbaumOnDesign at BusinessWeek online. On August 2, he wrote “Consumer experience is one of many expressions of innovation. P&G is good at it, good at design strategy and good at innovation.” He went on to say that companies that are experiencing that kind of growth are the ones that keep innovating.

The beauty industry talks a lot about innovation, but are we talking about the right things? To innovate is to effect change, but is every change an innovation? What’s really behind this constant urge to innovate? Please share your thoughts with the readers of GCI and BeautyUnion Today.