New New and More New Overwhelms

March 8, 2012

Hairdressers, like physicians, rank very high on a woman’s list of people she needs on a regular basis. For good reason. The best hairdressers are always on the lookout for new solutions to hair challenges. Recommending new and interesting haircare products is a common solution. The problem with recommending product remedies is that there are too many. Both stylists and consumers are overwhelmed with a deluge of new entries.

We call the phenomenon Hyper-Innovation!

Beauty industry reality is that new product development is the life-blood of increasing sales. The most common question stylists ask their product representatives is: “what’s new?” It’s human nature to want the latest and greatest products (see the iconic computer brand Apple as the best example). Stylists fuel the fire with this oft asked question.

Today’s beauty manufacturer showcases more new products than ever before. New beauty products are launched seemingly every second. By the time this sentence is written, there will probably be a new product created and launched. For the largest beauty companies, new product releases can represent up to 15% of projected annual revenue. The challenge for hairstylists is to cut through the clutter to find real product gems with real client benefits. To find real innovation, salons need to consult with trusted vendor representatives and conduct adequate due diligence. Unless a new product is truly inspiring, stylists should screen out the noise. S/he simply can’t absorb the kind of marketing blitz and product saturation she is being exposed to on a daily basis from product manufacturers.

Hyper-innovation is creating a product arms race. Companies believe they have to accelerate new product launches because they fear being left behind by competitor’s. It has become apparent to anyone who pays attention that the only way for beauty companies to grow sales is to have new products in the pipeline. Existing products are never good enough because they don’t sell enough. Existing items don’t sell enough because companies are on to the next greatest thing before the first great thing gains traction. Stop the madness!

The industry is suffocated by “what’s new”. Where will it end? Ultimately, the consumer is the judge. Hyper-innovation is a practice that has created clutter, a confusing beauty environment that has led to declining consumer sales. The best way forward is to introduce creative ways to engage stylists: be informative, entertaining, and manage a well-timed, sensible innovation cycle.

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