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Your product introduction strategy for a beauty retailer is most likely to succeed if you follow a specific checklist and empathize with the buyer.

1.The product development/pitch has to align with your goal for the retailer, and that also depends on your place within the retailer's category, meaning

Are you an existing brand?
-a Top 20% Store Brand,
-a Store Growth brand(not in the top 20%)
Are you a beauty brand that wants to sell to(list) the store (Store Aspirant brand)?

2.The product development/pitch must demonstrate an understanding of the retailer's category and its development

Do you know the product gaps for specific problems and solutions? For example, for a skincare brand, does the pitch align with skin concern, skin type, age, and price gaps in a retailer’s skincare category?

3.The product development/pitch must show your brand as the best solution to the particular gap

For example, for a skincare brand, is that your brand’s strength if you target a gap for sensitive skin or a particular skin concern with a specific type of formulation like a serum, cream, gel, etc.?

4.The pitch must instil confidence in the buyer

The above happens when you connect what the buyer knows to what she doesn’t know. There is always some perceived risk in a new brand/product, and you must reduce this perceived risk for the buyer.

New Product-ingredients matrix for retailer/store strategy for beauty brand

One way you could leverage the above checklist for specialty beauty retailers is with a product-ingredients matrix.

You can use the above matrix to strategize new product development or pitch new products to a retailer, whether you are an existing top brand within a retailer/store, a brand looking to grow within the retailer/store, or a beauty brand looking to start selling to the beauty retailer/store.

You could also create matrices for brand-product benefits and claims OR factor all-in-one.

This matrix uses skincare as an example category. However, you can create similar matrices for any category, whether makeup, hair, body, fragrance, or other.

Every quadrant has a different goal and strategy.

1. Best-Selling Product Category: Best-Selling Ingredients

Brand Type: Store Aspirant Brand

Gaps To Exploit: Skin concern, skin type, age & price gaps 

Goal: Placement

Strategy: Story

Store Aspirant brands can use the same best-selling ingredients as the best-selling products at the store but packaged within a distinguishing brand story to wow the buyer who already knows the ingredients & that the product type/category works at the store.

For example, a store like Sephora has a massive gap in sensitive skin solutions within the anti-aging category. The best-selling products in this category are wrinkle serums and creams with retinol and peptides. The buyer has immense confidence in the above. You could use the same ingredients or improve the formulation for the same product categories, like wrinkles, serums, and creams, but create a new brand story. Your chances of placement within Sephora (retailer/store) and movement from the shelf will significantly increase.

2. Best-Selling Product Category: New Ingredients

Brand Type: Store Aspirant Brand/Store Growth Brand

Gaps To Exploit: Skin concern, skin type, age & price gaps 

Goal: Placement or Penetration

Strategy: Story/Trend

Store Aspirant/Growth brands with or willing to source new ingredients versus the current best-seller’s product ingredients and compare effectiveness/pros/cons with clinical/consumer studies to convince the buyer and/or with a story around the trend toward new ingredients.

For the above Sephora example for the anti-aging skincare category, you could launch lightweight(a Sephora focus) wrinkle serums with ingredients different from peptides and retinol but show proof of performance with data and studies OR create a brand story around a trend like Blue Beauty that involves new ingredients like algae derivatives, for example.

3. New Product Category: Best-Selling Ingredients

Brand Type: Top Store/Growth Brand

Gaps To Exploit: Skin concern, skin type, age & price gaps 

Goal: Protect(Flank, Top Sephora brand) to Lead or Penetrate(Sephora growth brand)

Strategy: Incremental-Story/Trend

Customize your best-selling ingredients(you could even look at best-selling ingredients outside of the retailer/store/your brand that align with your brand and product development strategy) for new skin concerns-skin type-age-price & formulation gaps to flank out competition.

For the above Sephora example, If you are one of the top Sephora brands in the anti-aging skincare category, you could look at all the product formulation-skin concern gaps, such as there are hardly any neck serums, night creams, etc. or there are no products for acne and blemishes within the anti-aging skincare category. Then, prioritize the most attractive options and evolve/benchmark your best-selling ingredients/formulations to launch new products to flank out the competition and protect your lead.

4. New Product Category: New Ingredients

Brand Type: Store Aspirant & Store Growth Brand

Gaps To Exploit: Skin concern, skin type, age & price gaps 

Goal: Placement or Penetrate

Strategy: Disruptive-Story/Trend

Store Aspirant brands & Growth brands can develop new ingredients/formulations to launch with current product category gaps backed by clinical studies and placed in skin-concern-formulation-skin type-price gaps. The story will help overcome ingredient skepticism both with the buyer and eventually the consumer.

E.g. Josie Maran, a new brand at Sephora, launched Argan oils-based skincare products at Sephora with the hopes of penetrating the category with a new product-ingredient format and an umbrella brand story around Argan Oils and science.


Before you pitch your beauty brand to a retailer, 

-learn the category organization, gaps within the category, 

-how your solution fits with the gap, and

-how will you build buyer confidence.

You could accomplish this by using a tried-and-tested combination of best-selling products-ingredients with a new story/trend OR best-selling products with newer/better ingredients backed by claims.

Again, if you are thinking of introducing a new product to the retailer or are already on the shelves,

-think of the strategic objectives you are trying to accomplish.

-If you are a top brand within the retailer, you could use a flanking strategy to plug any substantial gaps within the category and protect your leadership position.

-If you are a retailer growth brand, you need a penetration strategy, and you could do so by launching best-selling products with newer/better ingredients backed by claims and a story/trend.

Both retailer growth and retailer aspirant brands can go the disruptive route, creating totally new products that either fill a big gap within the category or are a pure new addition to the category/new category with absolutely new ingredients, ideally backed by performance claims. This can take a bit of work to convince the buyer if you don’t already have amazing traction for the product outside of the retailer.

Are you a beauty brand that is looking to protect its leadership position within retail, or a beauty brand that wants to grow inside the retailers and become a top retailer brand or are you a beauty brand that is looking to get placement inside beauty retailers?

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