Lard on sale


June 17, 2009

Why are Romanian cosmetic brands (brands) sold at ridiculous prices compared to the ”foreign” ones? Because they sell ”lard” at a reduced price. I do not want to attack the composition of those products at all but I am convinced that the Romanian ones could compete with the imported ones. Especially since I have heard many female consumers saying that ”ours” are at least as good or effective as the other more well-known brands.

One morning on my way to the office, I saw an ”eternal” old Dacia car. It was shabby, white-grey, rust was starting to form on it and its truck was tied with wire. The truck was carelessly inscribed with the name of a let’s say well-known Romanian cosmetic brands with curative-regenerating and anti-ageing properties. I wonder, as a nescient person in women’s beauty products, what impression does this vehicle leave on me, both the actual car and the brand? Definitely, an impression that the brand is negligent, outdated, stagnant and cheap. Out of curiosity, I went into several stores to understand the problem better and I found out the same thing: outdated, dusty, old and cheap packaging. Complicated names. Materials used in retro packaging. Posters that were reminiscing situations from twenty years ago. Visual and verbal language and inappropriate associations. And so on. Lack of communication atl, btl, associations with well-known people or celebrities who successfully use that brand. Sorry, I think I’m wrong in saying brand, it’s about labels, a big difference. I continue to analyse the situation and I ask myself, for the time being, rhetorically speaking, how can you claim a high price on a product that makes you feel cheap? You cannot do that. The cosmetics industry is based on two factors: glamour and users’ self-suggestion that the product will significantly help them moisturize their skin or improve their skincare routine. Once these two ”small” problems are solved, the price becomes only a helpful element of the product’s positioning and which will no longer matter.

I have heard in recent years the lamentations of various representatives of this industry ”that it’s not going great”, ”it is not selling”, ”we are close to bankruptcy”,” we cannot raise the price”,” import competition is tough” etc. I was contacted by one of the representatives of one of a brand, owned by an investment fund, in order to participate in the selection of a new brand consultant who would reposition, redesign and design the communication strategy. We were rejected because what we proposed was ”too long” and expensive in relation to the defined purpose: we want a package, fast and cheap. This is the only thing we want. I haven’t heard anything about that brand ever since. In reality, we proposed an in-depth analysis of the markets, because they intended to access the foreign market. They wanted to fight even with the well-established brands which had great communication strategies and some history on the market. Only in the second stage were we going to draw a brand strategy, the redesign of the packaging and the communication strategy. It proved to be an approach that was not that ”cost-effective” for the respective investment fund that wanted big and fast profits from the first minute of launch, in an absolutely tough competition with the pre-existing and well- established brands.

I remember an older show of Mr Călinescu on ProTv in which he had as a guest one of the former Romanian owners of a noble title who was expatriated a long time ago in Switzerland. The guest owned a prosperous business in cosmetics. He said I quote approximately: ”the shelf price is usually 500% compared to the production price precisely because it includes a lot of marketing, analysis, advertising and distribution chains, expenses that are mandatory in this industry.”