Cosmetics Industry Gets DM Makeover

Article excerpt

Cosmetics house Helena Rubinstein this week confirmed its appointment of below-the-line agency Triangle for its first foray into database marketing - a move as obvious as the Heinz move into direct marketing was shocking.

A database of users has been built up through a detailed questionnaire asking customers for specifics, including purchasing patterns and motivation.

The database will be linked to all Helena Rubinstein outlets, allowing customer files to be updated every week. Purchases made, products sampled and consultants' advice will all be recorded and used for a relationship marketing programme.

The cosmetics industry fulfils all the right criteria for direct marketing - individual products are often expensive enough to justify the costs, cosmetics are not seen as commodity items and users fall into comfortable niches. The buyers of a certain range of perfume are far more easily identified than buyers of baked beans. The only question is why the industry took so long to realise it.

Manufacturers have continued to rely on the tried and trusted methods of above-the-line advertising, sampling off-the-page and sales promotion "gift-with-purchase" offers. The past year's spend on advertising alone was [pounds]134m (Register-MEAL).

Anton Mercier, managing partner of Mercier Gray, which recently developed a loyalty club for the Rimmel-owned Sensiq brand, says Heinz has largely been responsible for the late acceptance of direct marketing.

"Cosmetics houses are looking at Heinz and saying if something as mass market as that can get involved, so can we," he says. "Added to that, things are getting more competitive in-store and retailers are limiting what can be done promotionally. For example, Boots has a raft of promotions you can buy into, but they may not fit into your brand's objectives."

The Sensiq Privilege Club is being launched on the back of a 40,000-strong database built by the cosmetics firm over the past few months. Names have been profiled against the lifestyle of a typical Sensiq user by CACI and are based around larger Boots stores throughout the UK. …