Magazine article Marketing

Brand Builders: Pout

Magazine article Marketing

Brand Builders: Pout

Article excerpt

Kylie's lip-gloss makers are putting the fun back into the white-coated world of cosmetics.

Women lick their lips as they enter Pout's flagship store in London's Covent Garden. It's not clear whether this is the salivating effect of entering a girly equivalent of a sweet shop, or just because they suddenly wonder whether they're wearing enough lip-gloss.

Pout has carved itself an enviable niche in the world of premium-priced, offbeat cosmetic brands. Built on PR, the brand aims to avoid the pristine world of high-end cosmetics, favouring a fun approach. This means Pout is one of the only places one can buy cosmetics without feeling intimidated by slick, over-made-up women. It's almost certainly the only place one can buy pink pants with their own lip-gloss pocket.

Pout's staff are the brand. They have a genuinely pleasant and helpful manner that is absent from their white-suited department store peers.

Assistants mix casually, making suggestions to customers, but without the aggressive sell.

Customers respond to this down-to-earth attitude, leaning into mirrors as they try out testers. And if you don't get a sense of play from the environment, product names such as Dirty Gertie and Suck my Candy leave you in no doubt. The interactive style is aided by the manicure bar, where customers are given, in Pout-speak, a Heavy Duty Hand Job.

The store (christened 'Poutlet') displays its brightly coloured products on customised dressing tables for that full-on pink boudoir look, a style replicated in each of Pout's concessions.

Former Planet Hollywood marketing and PR director Emily Cohen and her co-founders Chantal Laren and Anna Singh started the firm in 2001 by re-mortgaging their houses.

Cohen says the idea was to bring the 'play' aspect back into cosmetics.

'We're talking about painting your face - it shouldn't be taken too seriously. We wanted to create an environment that felt less like a lab and more like a pyjama party in your mate's bedroom.'

Fast-talking Cohen, 34, is the driving force behind the brand's development, while Laren designs Pout's stores and packaging and Singh handles product development. Cohen's marketing background means she is the one who strikes distribution deals and manages the brand's publicity. She has also been driving international development, recently promoting two of Pout's American store assistants to regional managers.

Packaging and store visuals have been created to reflect the brand's slogan, 'The underwear of make-up', using lacy designs. …

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