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eight indicators of high value problem for beauty brands


The most critical decision determining the probability and extent of your venture’s success is the problem you are solving for the end consumer.

2 Mistakes with choosing a problem

1. No competition? And what’s your insight?

-No competition implies that the consumer doesn’t want a solution, is unaware of the problem, or is not a problem. All three could lead to “a good run spoiled.”

2. Tough to solve: Why isn’t there a great solution?

a. Are there those who tried but failed? What led to their failure? Is there a pattern there?

-A consistent pattern I have seen is a beauty brand with bare, minimal ingredients. Is it possible to deliver a swashbuckling performance with a threshold of ingredients in the formulation?

I am currently working with a brand that claims to solve a very similar and challenging issue with hardly any ingredients. One reason to believe it is that the formula took 20 years to make, and of course, the consumer loves it!

b. Why did they fail: consumer adoption issues?

-Taking the above example of minimal ingredients further, it could also affect the product’s stability and shelf life without certain ingredients, which might be must-haves for the consumer.

Understanding the previous failures and causes is essential to overcome those issues.

For example, you might have to have a high frequency of consumption, and a DTC model would suit you best.

c. Personal experience: You can be your first consumer

-The above is rarely an issue with beauty startups, especially those founded by women, but I see this as a problem with men who launch brands for women, not all of them; some get it amazingly right.

Eight Indicators of a "High-Value Problem."

I am now coming to problem evaluation and validation.

Problem Validation: Research with both early and mainstream consumers

While you can be your first consumer, that’s only part of the battle. You need to validate the problem with both the prospective early adopters and mainstream consumers.

You must validate the below eight indicators:

1. Urgent/How intense is the problem

-How urgently is the consumer looking for a different or better solution?

-Intensity applies to sustaining urgency as you want to be wary of solving a problem that seems urgent today or at a very short-lived stage in the consumer’s life. You can build a niche and go from there, but just be cognizant and know how to expand.

2. Felt by almost everybody in an identifiable segment

-Huge market sizes are irrelevant for early-stage beauty brands, but so are super-closed niches where you can get stuck. 

For example, JUMP’s partner brand, Besame Cosmetics, was stuck in the retro consumers’ period fashion and beauty niche. JUMP helped reinvent the brand to appeal to the early mainstream consumer by redefining the problem.

3. Felt with high frequency

-How often does your target consumer feel the problem?

-Elaborate makeup could work with women who have the time to do it frequently, but working women feel they need to do it less frequently. Frequency impacts consumption, and consumption, driven by results, impacts loyalty.

4. Plays a significant functional & emotional role in life

-If you help a working woman get an effortless look with minimal makeup and fast, you still won’t resonate as much as if you connect it to a particular stage in life, such as menopause, or the emotional drivers of a particular profession or a group.

5. Validation for “willing to pay” a premium

-If the consumer is unwilling to pay over and above what they currently pay, then the problem is not as intense, urgent, frequent and resonant. Also, it depends on who your segment is and the problem you are solving. If you are democratizing beauty, then it is not for you.

6. Who would miss the solution if you are not there, how much would they miss & who would they replace you with?

-What’s the impact of you not being there? Depending on who they choose, it will again validate the attractiveness of your problem.

If they choose a competitor with a very good solution, it’s a great indicator.

7. The consumer is aware of the problem but highly dissatisfied with the current solutions

-If the consumer isn’t aware of the problem, it’s a very uphill task. You could target a unique, unsolved problem if the consumer is very well aware and all the above are a go, and you overcome the two mistakes when choosing a problem.

8. The Problem has a high consumption value and upside

-This ties to the frequency of usage. If the consumer feels the problem multiple times a day without a dilution in urgency or intensity.

-Is there a consumption upside? Is there room for the same consumer to have a better experience or results with your other product/products to solve the problem even better or on more occasions?


Your success, scale and profits will depend on solving a significant problem versus a mediocre one.

Avoid these two mistakes when choosing a problem before validating the eight indicators of a lucrative problem.

A. “No competition: Maybe the consumer doesn’t want it solved.

B. “Very tough to solve”: If others tried hard in the past but failed severely (there is a difference between ‘tried very hard but failed and did not attempt at all’) because of certain constraints in solving the problem.

You can learn from the above failures and at least overcome the cause of their failure if you still want to evaluate the eight indicators of “a great problem to solve.”

Once you have passed the “two mistakes” filter, evaluate your problem on the below eight indicators:

  1. How urgent & intense is the problem
  2. Big enough market size 
  3. A high-frequency problem for the consumer
  4. Functional and emotional significance
  5. The consumer is willing to pay a premium for your solution
  6. Who would replace you if you aren’t there
  7. The consumer is aware of the problem and is highly dissatisfied with the current solutions
  8. The problem has a high consumption value and upside

Please do read my other blog on 3 types of innovation in beauty.

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