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General

New Products, New Promises: The Good, Bad & Ugly

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In our view, make-up is there to make us look and feel better, and more often than not the lady at the counter really wants to help you get the look you want.

It is easy to forget, however, that brands are ultimately in it for the business. When you are approaching a counter for, say, a blusher, and the sales person only seems interested in selling you the newly launched lipstick, it is important to keep in mind the good, the bad, and the ugly of product launches.

The Good
Sometimes when brands are launching products, it could be more of a “relaunch” or an improved formula of a past product – this is probably the highlight of ‘the good’ in product launches. It is important to remember that although brands want to bring in the dosh, dosh doesn’t come from rubbish products, and when brands reformulate products it isn’t a matter of the creators going, “Some girl said she’d prefer it if it was longer-lasting so….I guess we should do that?” and moving on.

Lots and lots of money, time and research goes into bringing in what the majority of customers had requested in feedback of the previous formula. They also strive to incorporate technological improvements in the new product, and factor in what will be “on trend” and will sell in the current climate.

Take Clarins, for example. Their Face Rebalancing Oil has a following even Bieber would be jealous of (the average age may be slightly higher, not gonna lie), but after years of women dissatisfied with the jar’s opening being too big and leading to wasted product, Clarins came out with the dropper. The product is now more practical and economical for the users, but what’s most important is that they’ve kept what everyone had liked from the beginning – the formula.

Part of the ‘good’ of product relaunches is that companies always aim for an improvement, because anything less would not have made the effort, time and money of a relaunch worthwhile. In this sense, you can be reassured that more likely than not,  they had taken your interests to heart (whether you’ll like the change or not is obviously up to the individual!).

The Bad
The nagging. As mentioned before, each salesperson will have been briefed in to selling as much of the new product as possible, especially immediately after the launch. You could approach them looking for an eyeshadow and many will do their very best to ensure you walk away with the brand new foundation (the eyeshadow? Optional). This can get annoying and frustrating to a point where – depending on the sales assistant – you might be tempted to move on to a different counter, department store, or even a different brand. While the product itself may be lovely and you may sympathize with goals that bosses set their employees, when a sales person puts their own interests so blatantly ahead of yours, it is always going to make for a less comfortable buying experience.

The Ugly
There are several “uglies” of product launches, but the biggest one must be the magnified version of the ‘bad’ sales assistant example – deceitful adverts. Ad designers and executives that get big cosmetics campaigns are very clever and play on what is ‘in’ at the time to draw you into the new products. A popular example would be your typical mascara advert; infamous for being quite sly, they tend to include tiny-as-possible text in the corners that ‘reveal’ the model’s lash inserts. The lash inserts which account for most of the lash perfection, rather than the mascara itself. These little ploys and selling strategies will always leave a customer feeling a bit disappointed when you get excited and rush out to purchase the false promises of a new product.

The bottom line is, a new product is an investment for brands and they will do anything to get a return on that investment. And yes, anything includes the ultimate deceit – Photoshop. Who could forget the wrath of consumers and the ASA over Lancome’s Teint Miracle foundation advert featuring the over-airbrushed, almost video game character-looking Julia Roberts (David Cameron had nothing on her)? Yes, we are aware of Photoshop and how all brands use it, but awareness doesn’t always add up when we are looking at the ads themselves. We may be aware that models actually have fine lines and dark circles, but when we look at adverts, that knowledge disappears and we find ourselves in a gaze of: “Maybe that product will make me look like that” – whether it’s conscious or subconscious. At this point, it’s time to pull yourself out of the daze, and remember the “ugly” of product launches – they want you to buy it, not necessarily to like it.

More often than not we react before our brain has the chance. Limited editions and new collections can induce girly squeals and mass department store hysteria that is out of the norm. There’s no denying that it is exciting, especially when the brands bring along their celebrities to participate in the launches (eg. Emma Watson was recently in Selfridges for the launch of Lancome’s Rouge in Love lipstick).

In conclusion, we aren’t saying it is time to start ignoring the new – new products are often improvements, and what brands think we will like (simple truth: unless we like it, they wont sell any, and they wont make money!). But product launches come in two parts – the product itself, and the selling. The selling is what we – as consumers – need to be aware of. It’s important to think: do I really want this blush, when I came in for an eyeshadow? Will this new product, with the virtue of being new, really make me look flawless? If the answer is yes, not a problem! But it’s easier said than done to answer those questions – that’s why it’s always helpful to be mindful of the good, the bad and the ugly of product launches.

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