The Fashion Group International is a professional organization that operates worldwide and is headquartered here in New York City. The group got its start in 1930 to support the fashion industry and has since expanded its purview and membership to encompass apparel, accessories, beauty, and home.
According to the FGI site, the organization’s mission is “to be the pre-eminent authority on the business of fashion and design and to help its members become more effective in their careers. To do this, FGI provides insights on major trends in person, online and in print; access to business professionals and a gateway to the influence fashion plays in the marketplace.”
The August 21st panel event was just that, a gateway to the marketplace, or at least a gateway to expert, first-hand knowledge of the marketplace.
In a discussion led by Emily Dougherty, editor in chief of New Beauty, the panelists shared what they’ve learned over the course of their careers--not so much about how to get any new beauty brand to market but rather about how they identify and foster outstanding new brands (and what new brands can do to stand out).
Collectively Ian Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow; Barbara Zinn Moore, founder of Barbara Zinn Moore Associates; Larry Kahn, partner and managing director at Beechwood Capital; and Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily, emphasized the importance of product efficacy, brand story, stylish packaging, and operational fortitude.
Good product, of course, is crucial. “If you’re building a brand, [product] efficacy is critical,” says Zinn Moore. And Yoon agrees: “The products that sell over and over again are the ones that work really well,” she says, adding that word-of-mouth spreads about a product’s results.
Distinctive branding is terribly important as well. “A great brand is a story well told,” says Ginsberg, who believes that quality music is made by passionate people not by people who simply want to be rock stars and that quality beauty brands come about in much the same way.
Kahn also sees a strong link between the people (the founders or the brand’s management team) and the long-term potential of any cosmetics, personal care, or fragrance brand. He looks for brands with a distinctive reason for being, ones that could—eventually—become a platform in and of themselves.
Brands need to be prepared operationally to win the fast-moving, highly competitive beauty marketplace. Zinn Moore urges beauty startups to “be realistic about how operationally ready you are (about what your capabilities really are).” Brands that are unprepared (in terms of pricing margins, stock levels, production capacity) for the omnichannel world might not be able to compete.
And the FGI event panelists also agree on the importance of a marketing plan, one that takes staff, buyers, consumers, investors, and media into account.
Learn more about FGI here.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.