I am a big fan of Tara Durotoye -a beauty/skin care consultant with her own make-up line-. I think she is a really smart woman, smart enough to start and grow a brand. I have spent a good amount of time studying her and her works. I even follow her on several social media platforms with the intention to learn a thing or two from her.
Recently, I saw a video clipof her complaining of imitations of her products. She was seeking that we all unite and fight against these imitations. She gave us clues on how to detect a fake Tara product when we see one and also had some celebrities follow the movement #IStandWithTara.
I know that having your product and the fruit of your labor imitated is a very painful thing, so, I support that you go to any length to fight against it. But, how about also looking at it from a different angle, this angle:
For anybody to think of imitating your product, it means that the demand for your product is high, too high that some marketers are seeking cheaper means of getting it just to meet these demands and make extra profit. It is also a sign of market expansion for you, because more people now want your product.
Every product has its target market, which could either be the rich, the middle class, the low income earners or all of them. If your target market is just the rich and probably the middle class; then you really should not worry about these imitators stealing your market, because I took the liberty of running a small research (sample size: 20) amongst some female friends and colleagues of mine on cosmetic products:
I asked them if they would rather buy a cosmetic product they really loved from the producer or from any random market. 95% of them said that they would rather buy from the producer and 5% were indifferent, they didn’t mind where they got it from, as long as they got the product. I went further to ask what they would do if the price the producer was offering for a product was a lot higher than the price of the same product in a random market. Now, 75% of them remained loyal to the producer, they said that cosmetic products are delicate products because they are applied directly to the skin, so they are always careful about what they apply on their skins. And 25% of them resulted to getting from a random market to save money, especially in this period of recession in Nigeria. Either ways you are winning.
But if your intention is for the product to be an all lady’s favourite: the rich, middle class and low income earners, only then do I think you should be worried about imitation. Because, if you want the low income earners to be aware that your product is being imitated and go ahead to teach them how to differentiate the real products from the fake ones and you still sell your product at your normal price, I almost do not see them patronizing you, because they most likely cannot afford it.
So, is imitation the answer? No. But something we should understand is that no matter how much we know that imitation is bad and worse still, patronizing these imitators, if we cannot afford the original product then we just cannot afford it.
They want to be loyal to you, but how many low income earners can afford N5,000 for a bottle of foundation? Or N1,500 for a makeup brush?
So one of my golden solutions is that you start selling your products in packages where you segment the prices for each of the classes you want to serve, then staying loyal to you will be easier.
Say you have A Gold foundation package that goes for N5,000, A Silver foundation package for N3,000 and A Bronze foundation package for N1,500; If a low income earner knows that she could walk into any Tara store and buy a bottle of foundation (and any other product as you wish) for N1,500, then such a one will most likely patronize you than a random marketer, so such person can now stay away from fake products and stay true to the original ones. By this, you have beat imitators at their own game and increased your customer base.
How do I reduce the prices? Does she know the cost of production for a bottle of foundation? You might ask.
I understand this, but I also understand that you are the one with the dream, so you still have the drawing board on which your dream was dissected to become what it is today. I know that different things add to the prices of cosmetic products, for instance, producing a matte foundation should certainly cost more than producing a non-matte foundation because it cost more to buy a matte foundation than a non-matte foundation. You can reduce the content or increase the content on each of the packages that you sell as it suites you.
A perfect example of this scenario is the case of a particular cable providing company that came into Nigeria some years ago (I would be referring to them as Providers A through the course of this analysis). They enjoyed monopolistic advantage for a long while, because they were the only ones providing such services in the country at the time, so they sold their products at a high price. For a long time only a certain class of people could afford this product.
Years later, competitors saw that there was an unfed market in that space, because a large number of people could not afford the price Providers A sold at. So, they came up with a cheaper package, with a certainly lesser quality than the former (I would be referring to them as Providers B, C & D). Those who could not afford the service of Providers A were really excited about this new development and quickly started patronizing the Providers B, C & D not minding the issue of low quality, after all, they now had access to some foreign channels their friends who were patronizing Providers A had access to and could now follow up on conversations about programs showing on those channels.
Providers A saw what was happening and even noticed that some of their customers –the ones they thought would never compromise quality- started migrating to the product of Providers B, C & D. So, Providers A went back to their drawing board and packaged a cable product that met the standard of what Providers B, C & D were selling both in quality and in price. And that was how Providers A were able to maintain their customers and even add new customers to their portfolio.
***To Be Continued***