Problem & Solution
Problem Worth Solving
The cosmetics industry is in a state of flux. Traditional brands (Revlon, L’Oreal, Lancôme etc.) are viewed as old. The consumer is looking for more holistic and healing benefits from her skin care products. She is no longer content with just the appearance benefits offered by traditional brands. The Body Shop brought her an awareness of cruelty free and natural products. These initial nudges lead to today’s consumer being more informed and more inquisitive about the benefits of her personal care products. Her skin crème needs to protect her from the suns damaging rays, moisturize her skin and reduce the effects of aging. She is seeking relief from the effects of a hectic 24/7 lifestyle. She has learned the benefits of herbal therapy and aromatherapy. She has either experienced or read about the benefits (both physical and emotional) of a Day Spa.
Bluespa is a company that has created a brand concept consisting of both skin care and athletic apparel utilizing multiple channels of distribution. We are seeking recurring investment to fund the growth of the brand, and position the company for an IPO. The plan that follows explains our market, our value proposition and our market segmentation strategy. The detailed financial plans provide a clear view of our sales and profit forecasts. These plans show how Bluespa will reach profitability in our third year of operation and generate shareholder return on equity within five years.
Market Size & Segments
For the purpose of this analysis we are focusing solely on the female market. Therefore our potential customers base (for the purpose of developing projections) does not include any statistics or provisions for male consumers. We have used the demographic report for spa goers conducted by spa weekly as a basis for our assumptions. Based upon this survey the spa goer is predominantly female (85%), well educated (46% attended college), and crosses income levels (26% earn less than $35,000; 32% earn between $35,000 and $74,999 and 42% earn over $75,000).
Using this demographic as the basis for our methodology we developed our potential customer base with the following parameters: Women with some college between the ages of 25 and 65. We completely discounted women with no college, women between 18 and 25, women over 65 and the entire male population. It is estimated that the female population will grow at a rate of 5.18% annually from 2000 to 2025 (source: the U.S. census bureau). This data is for the entire United States. Of the 33,642,000 women represented between the ages of 25 and 65 who attended college, 29,293,000 (87%) reside in major CMSA’s.
4.3 Target Market Segment Strategy
Because Bluespa is a combined retail (direct to end user) and wholesale (to the end user through a reseller) strategy our target customer must be broken into two distinct groups, the end user and the reseller.
Our targeted end user is between the ages of 24 and 65. They are urban professionals with at least some college. This consumer has an active lifestyle. They are concerned about social and environmental issues. Mind and body wellness are important to them. They belong to a health club; take yoga, pilate’s or tai chi lessons. The effects of aging and the maintenance of a youthful appearance are a part of their life. A recent survey conducted by The American Spa Industry revealed the following demographic for day spa goers: 85% are female, 46% have some college and 39% are college graduates, 63% are married, 32% have an annual income between $45,000 and $74,999, 40% have income above $74,999 and 26% have incomes below 45,000, 47% are between 34 and 52 years of age.
They are predominantly female. They are well educated. Between 1993 and 1998 20% more BAs and MBAs were awarded to women than men. Women received 59% of all associate degrees, 55% of bachelor degrees, 53% of masters’ degrees and 40% of doctoral degrees earned in the United States. Today college campuses are over 60% female. The buying power of this segment of the market continues to grow. There are currently over 109 million female consumers. Their buying power is estimated at $4.4 trillion. (In comparison, the junior market is estimated at $100 billion). In 1997 64% of working women earned more than one half of the family income. Today, businesses owned by women generate over $3.6 trillion in annual sales. Of the net increase in the workforce between 1992 and 2005, 62% are projected to be women. In retail the female consumer is the primary decision maker in 85% of households. Women buy or influence the purchase of 80% of consumer goods. Their increasing educational attainment makes young women even more sophisticated and demanding consumers.
Today’s female consumer is living a transactional life with multiple constituencies. Her life is on fast forward. In the last few years the sales of anxiety drugs to this consumer has surpassed the sales of anti-depressants. Her definitions are shifting, blurring the lines between home and office; private and public; professional and casual; even male and female. Age has become irrelevant. Life stages are no longer defined cleanly by age. (A 44-year-old first-time mother has much in common with a 22-year-old first-time mother.) Links between generations and mindsets are becoming very spread out. Today’s female consumer defines herself more by mindset or approach to life than by age. Parents and teens are often on parallel treadmills. The older segment is interested in staying young and the younger segment is acting older.
In addition there has been a democratization of luxury. The upper-class family group is massive. More than eight million households have incomes above $100,000. Luxury spending is growing four times faster than overall spending. Working women of all ages have more money and they are spending it on personal luxuries. This is a reaction to the chaos of 24/7 consumerism. She’ll buy, but she wants more than just another product. She is not seeking empowerment–she is empowered. She is choosing to take better care of herself and others. She is looking for peace, solutions and fulfillment. Purchasing has moved beyond price. The Price:Value ratio has become more meaningful. She is seeking a "value added" experience or product. Our strategy of combined channels of distribution allows us to fit into her schedule while our product philosophy provides her with the benefits she is seeking.
Our target customers (vs. end user) for wholesale distribution will be resellers who recognize the needs of this consumer and who she identifies with. We have used the term resellers because they will not be limited to retailers. We will reach the consumer through four distinct reseller channels.
- Spas and Health Clubs:
Most high-quality day spas and health clubs (and many upscale spas at resort properties) use generic products. (Much like the hair salon industry before Aveda.) Our goal will be to develop affiliations with select spas in urban areas and vacation destinations. Our manufacturing partnerships will allow us to offer these customers bulk product at favorable prices to them while allowing us excellent margins.
- Lifestyle Retailers:
Our target retailer will be lifestyle-based rather than the typical soaps and potions or natural product retailers. These retailers exist in almost every city. Whether it is Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, Mario’s in Seattle, Harold’s in several south central cities, Fred Segal in Los Angeles, Bergdorf Goodman in New York or Colette in Paris. These retailers have developed a loyal and sophisticated customer base. They understand the concept of lifestyle.
- Cosmetic Specialty Retailers:
Sephora is the major force in this category.
- Boutique Department Stores:
This category is composed of what was once called "Carriage Trade" retailers. We will limit our distribution within this segment to Saks, Niemans and Barneys.
Because we will develop our brand image and market positioning primarily through our skin care line, we will focus our competitive review on that segment of the market. The skin care market is very broad. It includes products labeled as body crème that range in price from $10 for a five-ounce container to over $300 an ounce. Our market positioning will be in the lower price quadrant of high quality natural products.
Our primary competitors for this customer are:
Kiehl’s: Founded in 1851, this brand has an image that is well established with the consumer. Their main strength has been that the products work. Kiehl’s has been a family business for four generations. The products are being made in small batches in a New York City facility. They have a wide and varied distribution strategy. Their packaging and labeling is very clinical in appearance. In recent years the brand has experienced almost geometric growth. This has caused them serious internal problems. They have been unable to meet demand and have stopped adding customers. In spring 2000 Estee Lauder acquired them. According to internal sources Lauder will move the manufacturing to OEM facilities and shut down the internal capabilities. They plan to focus growth on traditional department stores and on a roll out of Kiehl’s own stores. The obvious plus of this marriage is the availability of cash and technical resources. The potential risk is that Lauder will associate the brand closely with Department stores and that the OEM manufacturing will result in the changing of certain formulas and a reduction in product effectiveness.
Aveda: Founded in 1978 by Horst Rechelbacher (an artist), Aveda has become synonymous with quality hair-care products and salons. They are distributed, worldwide, by over 3,000 Aveda salons. It has nurtured a well-defined image and secured a very effective distribution network. Aveda salons are a combination of licensed properties and company owned locations. Their product philosophy is centered in Ayurveda healing and aromatherapy. Recently Estee Lauder acquired them.
Clinique: Clinique was launched in 1968 with skin care and makeup products that are all allergy tested and fragrance free. Clinique products are marketed as part of a three-step system: cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize. The products are marketed primarily through department stores. In recent years their image has become dated. Clinique makes a significant amount of their sales through "bonus week" at department stores. The 18 to 35 crowd does not consider them current and their product development hasn’t kept pace with changing consumer awareness. Clinique is a division of Estee Lauder.
Fresh: Fresh distributes body and skin care products through their own stores, a consumer catalogue and wholesales globally to department and specialty stores. Their products are more "fashion" influenced than treatment based. They currently have two stores in New York City and one in Boston. Their target market is younger and less affluent than Bluespas’.
Essential Elements: A former stock analyst started essential Elements in 1995. The products are botanical based natural body crèmes and lotions. They are distributed primarily through day spas and specialty stores. Informed sources say they will be launching a consumer catalogue. Their main target for increasing distribution is through day spas and resorts.
Bluespa will occupy a unique market position. No other brand offers a specialty line that includes skin care, cosmetics, fitness apparel and accessories. However, within each category significant brands do exist. Quality and price vary widely within each group. Bluespa will be positioned as a quality brand. We have eliminated the drugstore and discount brands from this comparison.
In the skin care and cosmetics category the competition can be divided into three groups: Commercial–i.e. MAC, Origins, Philosophy, Erno Laslo and Shesheido; Clinical–i.e. Kiehl’s, Clinique, Clarins and Dr. Hauscha; Spa–private label brands associated with spas.
The commercial brands are primarily sold through department stores. They vary widely in quality from Origins to Shesheido. They also vary widely in price. Their major advantage is their financial strength and their department store relationships.
The clinical brands are perceived to be "authentic." Their image is based upon the perception of treatment qualities verses purely cosmetic benefits. These brands are sold through their own retail outlets, specialty stores, department stores and/or health food stores. Kiehl’s is perceived as one of the most authentic of the clinical brand.
The spa brands are sold almost exclusively at the spas they are associated with. This close affiliation provides a validation for the products but limits their ability to achieve wide market distribution. Bliss and Aveda are notable exceptions. These two brands have achieved wide market distribution and brand recognition.
In fitness apparel and accessories the female customer has been grossly overlooked. Reebok and Avia had the best chance of capturing her at one time. However Reebok abandoned her to try to become a "legitimate" sports brand and acquired Avia. Avia has since been sold and has all but disappeared. Meanwhile the big two brands (Nike and Adidas) have ignored her. Recently Nike announced the formation of a women’s division as a separate business unit. While this offers the possibility of a major competitor in the women’s fitness category, it also highlights the opportunity. Puma is the only brand that has developed a line of fitness apparel focused specifically at this consumer. Their Nuala line has been developed with Christy Turlington. They have positioned this line to sell through women’s specialty stores rather than traditional sport retailers. Early sales have been exceptional, further highlighting the potential within this category.
Bluespa will develop our market position by combining a retail strategy that includes a day spa with a wholesale distribution strategy. Bluespa will acquire the validity afforded the spa brands and access to broad distribution. Bluespa skin care and cosmetic products will offer therapeutic benefits to the user based upon the principles of Thalasso therapy in our water line and Botanical treatments in our earth line. Our color cosmetics will be mineral based and provide the user with esthetic benefits while nourishing the skin. In addition to providing retail appropriate packaging we will develop bulk sizes for distribution within the spa trade. Most day spas use generic products and do not have the ability to develop a private label line. The apparel and accessory lines will combine the newest in technical fabrics with fit specifications that allow the wearer full range of movement. We have developed affiliations with select yoga and fitness facilities for our apparel. All of our products will be positioned at the quality conscious consumer. Our marketing campaign and PR positioning will reinforce the Bluespa image. Our message will be to identify the benefits of our products and to develop an image that makes Bluespa products highly desirable. Meanwhile, our pricing strategy will be to maintain retail price points in the lower quadrant of the top quality brands. A detailed comparison of our pricing as it relates to our target market is in the appendix.
Keys to Success
Keys to Success
Our keys to success are:
- Quality product.
- Product logistics and quality control.
- Product placement in key retail accounts.
- A vertical retail presence in brick and mortar, catalogue and e-commerce.
- The creation of a "buzz" about this "hot…new" brand among opinion leaders through a combination of PR and product placement.