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Fitting into a saturated market.

May 5, 2018

The beauty market has been saturated since the day I first stepped foot in it some twenty years ago but brands still come and go. As an aside, I can’t believe it’s been 20 years, that’s insane….

So here’s a little story about why you shouldn’t really give a damn about that. A story of how you should still go out and do your thing anyway.



Everyone wants to be successful, to have a brand that brings them fame and fortune. OK, so not everyone wants the fame!  Some of us quite like the cloak of anonymity that comes with obscurity  but if you could just quietly slide the money under the door and then go away, far, far away that would be just peachy.

So, everyone wants to be successful and most people equate that with money. The amount of money that each of us equate with fame no doubt varies but that’s besides the point. Money is definitely an important thing.

The question now is, how does a brand become successful in a financially viable and relevant way in a market that’s quite literally so saturated that it’s dripping?  The answer to that, I believe, is all about the narrative.

We have become a people hungry for stories, stories about ingredient origin, about the maker crafting their wears with their own hands and hearts,  infusing the brand with their own spirit and enthusiasm.  About far-flung places and wild adventures, foraging, harvesting ingredients under the silver light of the full moon or while still glistening wet with dew.  About gentle manufacturing processes,  sustainability, nature, kind and empowering working environments,  equity, fairness, compassion, purity and love.  These are all things we crave from our products because for many of us our brands have become our totems.

But these aren’t the only narratives, there are also those about inner health and wellbeing, about results, defying ageing, personal empowerment and strength, power and control, winning.   Still further we have the narrative of fun, hedonism,  indulgence, excess,  fashion, art and the narrative that encourages us to ‘fake-it-until-we-make-it’.

Anything and everything goes. 

While most brands feel they have a strong narrative expertly told, many actually suffer from narrative constipation (albeit temporary in some cases), mis-information and execution errors which leave the public wanting.

Nearly all brands have something, some story that got them ‘born’ but in a few cases the brand really doesn’t have much substance.  Rather than see that as a terrible thing,  there  is not necessarily a problem with this just as long as the brand compensates in other ways.  We all know that a pretty face (good packaging, on-trend colour scheme,  fashionable ingredient list) can open doors and that can be enough in some cases.  I can put my hand up to having purchased a product just because it looked pretty and would match my bathroom. Then there’s the brand that’s always available, that’s just the right price or that has that one product that just works for you.  However, many people are looking for a bit more than just that.  They are wanting the type of brand  longevity that requires something more substantial,  more satisfying and that’s where building the narrative fits in and where we must remember that there’s room for all types (and depths) of narrative.


On telling the story. 

Not all brand owners are natural story tellers.  Some are quite self-conscious or too unsure to know where to start, others lack the imagination or ability to join the dots in that way and a few have the right idea but struggle with the confidence to command their audience. However, I’ve found that  with the right encouragement their stories flourish once they can clearly see what they have.

It might sound odd but somewhere in the region of 70% of brands I work with lose their way at some point in time with regards to who they are and what they want to attract. It’s important to note at this point that if, as a brand owner, you don’t take control of and understand the message you put out there you won’t attract the right customers for you and you may end up feeling like you are being pushed, pulled and prodded in all sorts of directions, many of which feel uneasy, un-necessary or distracting.  This feeling of ‘the tail wagging the dog’ so to speak is not what most of us go into business to experience so its good to know that gaining an understanding of how your brand is being perceived is a big step towards putting an end to this!

So if we assume that a well though out story (or narrative) is the secret to success (in a deeply satisfying way) how do we make sure we’ve got one and are telling it well?

What about we start with our elevator pitch?

Imagine you are stuck in an elevator with the inventory manager of the store you are just dying to get into.  You need to explain your brand in the one minute or so you have together. No if’s, but’s or could-be’s.  It’s just you, your brand and the opportunity.

When I write for brands the 100-200 word elevator pitch can take me the longest to do. In some cases I have to write everything out long-hand first before I can take it back to bare bones.  You might have noticed in reading my blog that I’m quite verbose at times, that’s because I quite literally use the page to structure my thoughts.  For me it’s the process of getting the words out of my head and onto the page that brings mental clarity of thought.  Without the discipline of having to have it make some kind of sense my brain darts around all over the place.  You may find yourself in that position too or you may find that your brain flows better when you move your body (writing is a very sedentary thing after all),  or listen to music or immerse yourself in the cleaning or even some sketching. Anyway, I’m waffling now but you get the picture….

The elevator pitch when read or said should say it all and say it with gusto.  It should state who and what you are fully but without over-egging it (as that may come across as fake or un-authentic).  While you want to say a lot, you also want to leave the audience wanting more – wanting to experience this for themselves.  So you do need to tease them a bit or at least intrigue them.

Here’s an example of an elevator pitch for a popular Blue Mountains clothing store, (I didn’t write this BTW) that I enjoy shopping at.  I feel this store has got it right when it comes to outlining quickly what they are then living that through everything they do.  They manage to pull walk-in clients from all over Sydney as well as cater for them online.  That’s pretty amazing I think!

Bella Boheme is a lifestyle brand that seeks to curate a range of unique bohemian clothing, accessories and homewares to inspire and support our customers.. We bring the eclectic patterns and colours of the world to the beautiful Blue Mountains, Australia.. Much more than a store, we offer a rich sensory experience that leaves each customer feeling inspired and supported.

We pride ourselves on our attention to detail, and the unique level of customer care we offer. We care about developing genuine relationships with our customers, staff and community and providing each with positive experiences. We know that the Bella Boheme woman wants to feel cared for and appreciated, and we go above and beyond to make sure that’s her experience..

You can visit their website here.

  • The genre of brand is identified (Lifestyle).
  • The exact segment within that genre they fit (Bohemian)
  • The type of products you will find (clothing, accessories and homewares)
  • The intrigue so that you can paint a picture in your head (eclectic patterns and colours of the world)
  • The location (this may or may not be relevant to your brand/ may or may not be a selling point) – (The Beautiful Blue Mountains – this draws off the tourism capital and mind-map people have about the location making visiting this shop more than just an in-store experience, it’s the region too).
  • How you will feel whilst shopping (sensory adventure – inspiring, supportive)
  • Approach to business (attention to detail, customer care, genuine, community)
  • How you fit in (The Bella Boheme Woman – you are invited to become part of this supportive, fashionable and caring womens circle)

Doing that for your brand. 

Easier said than done………

If you are a brand owner maybe you want to give doing that a go and see what it brings up for you.  If you already have your elevator pitch, maybe you want to test it.  Why not get into an elevator for a day (if you can bear it) and just pitch to the people who come in, see what they say.  The key is to try it out on people who don’t know or love you.  Your friends and family will either be hyper critical and try to get you to say what they think you should say or will be ultra-supportive and hear what they want to hear.  To get more customers requires reaching out to new people and convincing them.

One thing that can really stop people in achieving this is that nagging thought that they actually don’t have anything special to say or that what’s special to them might not be interesting to another or that they have a story but they are somehow not qualified to tell it – or that other people tell it better or that other people might criticise or challenge their reality……  Other people struggle because they have this nagging feeling that their offering won’t be perfect enough or isn’t ready enough YET.   I can relate to all of this but to the haters (even if it’s yourself) I say ‘stuff them’, you are entitled to your feelings and your story and there’s never a better time than the present to tell it.

blocking haters

I can also attest to the fact that on one hand I’m still waiting to feel like I’ve got all my ducks in a row so I can start being the professional, efficient, amazing chemist lady that I know I can be but on the other hand I know I’ll always be a bit eccentric- it runs in my family.  I’m not actually joking here – we’ve all been to therapy lol

Ducks in a row

The bottom line is that while it would be awesome to just know everything and have everything under control and organised before we get started on the doing,  It almost never happens and we just have to make the best we can out of what we’ve got at that time.

So once we do that can we really all fit into a saturated market?

Yes and no.  Of course there will be products that don’t really cover their costs, brands that miss the mark in one way or another and businesses that don’t meet the goals of their owners but by and large, if you can get to the point where you have ‘birthed’ your story and are living it with enthusiasm and drive then that will feel like success.  And remember,  yours is a never-ending story and that gives you permission to morph, grow and explore new opportunities and ways of being awesome as you go.

Good luck x

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