Mary Kay: Long Live the Queen A PZTS Report: Priscilla Dominguez Zebediah Gallagher Thomas Burnham Sarah Wang
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. •
Mary Kay: From Princess to Queen Executive Summary (1)
The Target (4)
The Rivals Competition (11)
The History of Beauty (14)
The Mary Kay Experience and Beyond Website (16)
Social Media (18)
The Insight (21)
The Creative Brief (22)
EXECU TIVE SU MMA RY: Since the company’s Dallas, Texas found in 1963, Mary Kay has remained committed to the principles established by their titular Renaissance woman founder. Direct sales have been Mary Kay’s home turf for 50 years. However, it is not 1963 anymore. With the emergence of the big bad generation known as millennials, Mary Kay may soon become obsolete. How does an antiquated sales method become relevant to a generation thriving on technology? Will the employees be able to sell to this new group or will they be forced to move on? Can the competition innovate themselves to surpass conventional direct sales? Will the digital realm prove to be a useful tool or the company’s undoing? Can the Mary Kay Experience outshine the world’s obsession to technology? If Mary Kay can embrace the women of today, maybe these women will find something to embrace about Mary Kay. If not, this target audience may remain trapped as a princess in her tower… when all she wants is to be recognized as a queen!
MARY KAY SALES: BEYOND THE PINK CADILLAC The first step in understanding Mary Kay was to understand their sales. And the first step to understanding the sales was to understand a sales person. An in-depth interview was conducted with a Mary Kay beauty consultant who will be identified as “Jessica” so as to not endanger her position within the company. A full transcript of the conversation can be found in the Appendix; however, the bulk of the conversation will be transcribed below. (Each bullet is nearly a direct quote from Jessica) According to a Mary Kay beauty consultant: The Core Mary Kay Consumer is: • • •
Multiple demographics Sold to: Women via group get-togethers, Students on college campuses, Mothers in their own homes, or professionals in an office setting Women usually learn about Mary Kay in the following ways o Word of mouth o Attending a public make-up class o Attending a make-up class hosted by a friend The Mary Kay consumer seeks quality when choosing her brands; she does not like “juvenile” brands Mary Kay consumer = sophisticated, high quality, affordable
How to advertise to these women: • • •
Mary Kay must provide a sense that their make-up is special and can only be acquired directly Make-up brands must provide a unique product, anything else is white noise Emphasize quality and affordability
Brand Preferences: • • •
Brand preferences vary, but are strongly established within the ages of 17-25 17-25 is when the most testing of make up is conducted This is when full awareness of society’s view of beauty occurs
The strengths of brand preferences: •
Brand preferences are chosen through the following • Quality • Application ease • Lasting effects • Price • Celebrity endorsement
The first direct sales purchase:
The first purchase is usually products that must match skin tone, such as… • Concealer • Foundation • Blush • Lipstick These are purchased because with direct sales the entire focus will be on them and their needs. It is reassuring
Online Purchases •
Are usually “Basic cosmetics” • Eyeliner • Mascara • Lip-gloss • Sometimes eye shadow These purchases are acquired through taste rather than skin tone matching
The most popular Mary Kay trials •
Trying products is usually based on various colors • Eye shadow- variety of colors • Mineral powder foundation • Bronzer • Skin care washes Women enjoy the excitement of trying multiple colors in person
Products best purchased at the pharmacy •
All of these products are convenience purchases o Mascara o Eye liner o Lip gloss o Lipstick
What products are missing from Mary Kay’s line up? •
Most companies have these products already o “Illuminate” creams o Gel paint eyeliner o Glitter rolls (S., 2013)
SALES: PRIMARY AND SECONDARY RESEARCH This section will be comprised of both primary and secondary research, conducted and collected by PZTS.
The core Mary Kay consumer is 25+. From the advent of make-up usage in a woman’s life until the age of 25 there are very few women who regularly use Mary Kay due to their own independent desire. Of the 15 women interviewed within this target audience, only two used Mary Kay. One was the beauty consultant “Jessica” who gets an employee discount; the other was a focus group participant from New Jersey who uses her mother’s Mary Kay on occasion. So who exactly is the current core Mary Kay consumer? (All “Sales” questions from client brief answered within the persona) Persona: Mrs. Mary K. – Used to be a “princess” • • • • • • •
55 years old Graduated college, with some graduate studies Lives in Beaumont, TX Has been married for several years Empty nest from 2 children Working mother in a professional environment Annual household income of $100,000
Brand Preferences Loyal to Mary Kay for Lipstick and Facial Creams Uses other products: Lancôme, Estee Lauder, and L’Oreal Dislikes: Avon, Shiseido, and younger products such as Maybelline Learned about Mary Kay at the age of 12, aligned the product with prestige and maturity from mother’s make-up party • Her first purchase from a beauty consultant was blush • She rarely buys her cosmetics online but when she does it is because the store is out of her favorite mascara or eye-liner • She has picked up eye-liner from the pharmacy when she is in a rush • To begin trial adoption of a cosmetic product Mary would need to have at least two separate friends recommend the new product • Mary does not know what products Mary Kay is missing because she uses a variety of products. Mary Kay must make her realize that she is missing out on something (Experian, 2013) (GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence, 2013) • • • •
MARY KAY: THE TARGET To learn more about the target that Mary Kay hopes to communicate with, the first step was to communicate with a trusted beauty consultant again. She is not only an employee, but also falls into Mary Kay’s intended target (She is 22.) Once again the full transcript with “Jessica” can be found in the Appendix. According to a Mary Kay beauty consultant and member of the target 18-25 vs. Baby Boomers •
18-25 is age of sexual liberation, classy not trashy
Both generations want good quality and price products 18-25 females look for the following with brand selection: o Peer trusted and used o Favorable current celebrity usage o The class and timelessness of older celebrities Baby Boomers look for: o Reliability o Affordable pricing o Multiple effects Competitors have the following perceived benefits over Mary Kay: o A physical store o Seemingly limitless products o Convenience Mary Kay and Direct Selling o Huge selection of products available o Similar to store brands o Personalized attention is direct selling’s advantage Make-up application o Ages 10 – 13 with minimal make-up o Around age 14, women start to really explore proper make-up application (The Princess stage) o Girls discover new products at this age: Bronzer, concealer, and primer o Learn to apply make-up from the following people in the following order: § Friends § Mothers § Cosmetic salespeople So why should any girl want to use Mary Kay? o To achieve the beauty norm and beyond o They can spend one on one time with a Mary Kay consultant to ask questions about proper application and usage of make-up o The “Busy mom” or “middle-aged professional” has a need for privacy and special alone time to learn how to use new products
Make-up • •
Experimenting begins around age 10 on average Progression o Lip-gloss o Eye-liner o Eye-shadow Acne ties into facial appearance = need for make up o Clear proof o Botanical Effects o Embraced by 13+ o Treats acne and is good for the skin o Clean skin is always a priority YouTube
o Instructional videos o New application ideas Magazines o Photos with instructions o Meant to be reviewed not hastily taught Make-up age opinion o No general consensus o By High S (Women, 2013) (Women, Focus Groups, 2013)chool, most girls have already used some form of make-up o By College, women already have an established make-up routine for application and purchase (S., 2013)
THE TARGET: PRIMARY AND SECONDARY RESEARCH This section will be comprised of both primary and secondary research, conducted and collected by PZTS. A picture sort was conducted with 15 individual females. This picture sort consisted of 8 separate cosmetic pictures. Each ad had been edited to have the brand name removed (to eliminate bias.) The picture sort sought to gain an insight into the target audience and be a starting point for a deeper conversation about cosmetics. (The pictures can be found in the Appendix) Key information gained from picture sort: • • • • • • •
Women prefer to see “natural” and easy to reproduce make-up in an ad A celebrity can break an ad, but not necessarily make it If product packaging is in the picture it must be appealing and memorable 18-25 is not a princess anymore, they want to be the queen The lowest scoring ads were: Mary Kay, Avon, and Vera Wang The highest scoring were: Lancôme Paris, Chanel, and Maybelline New York Positive comments about most appealing ads: o Good tone o Minimalistic approach o No colors over-used o Natural make-up is good o Mature brand voice o Realistic o Sophisticated Negative comments about least appealing ads: o Not relatable o Improper brand image o Too much color (usually pink) o Unrealistic make-up application o Bad layout (Women, Picture Sort, 2013)
Key information from focus groups: • • • •
• • • • •
Most girls in this age group do not know a Mary Kay consumer Some girls mistake Mary Kay for Mary-Kate Olson They remember the brand being “old and mature” when they were younger, now the brand has lost all relevance to them They differ from their mothers by the following: o Brand choice (E.g. 18-25= Smashbox or Nars, Baby Boomers = Clinique or Lancôme) o Younger girls are still “experimental” by comparison o Older women remain fairly brand loyal, younger women may try a product because it is new or suggested by a sales rep “If someone were to say ‘Mary Kay eye shadow’ without even knowing I would not picture any colors I want.” Younger generations like to seek cosmetic help in the moment of choice. They do not want pressure at a non-purchase moment Make-up is a social identifier, friend groups have brand preferences and levels of usage Girls begin experimenting with make-up by middle school One participant said “I used to put so much glitter on my eyes, that I could not even open them all the way, but it was what my friends were doing and it was ‘cool’.” Some girls would apply make-up without parental knowledge and run out of the house for school to avoid detection (Princess trying to be a Queen) Acne and make-up are coexistent; they both become heavily prevalent on a girl’s face around the same time. Early years= “I need a product to cover this zit!” Later years= “I need a product that will not make my skin break out.” Girls never fully stop learning how to apply make-up as trends and fashions change and YouTube “How-to” videos gain popularity Depending on their familial or friend relations a girl will most likely learn make-up application within a nuclear group no larger than 3 or 4. Make-up parties are a no go during middle and high school years (Women, Focus Groups, 2013)
MARY KAY: EMPLOYEES It is well known that Mary Kay is ran by the private army of representatives that work for the company. Without these women the corporation would be nothing. These women are the most essential component in the machine that is Mary Kay. How does a Mary Kay beauty consultant help transform women into queens? (The following is complete and un-sampled responses from three different Mary Kay Beauty Consultants) 1. How are Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants recruited? (The following information comes from several MK Beauty Consultant [BC] contacts)
“I was introduced to Mary Kay skin care products when I was 18. I wasn’t so much a loyal consumer, but there were some things I always came back for. Then at a vender show, my friend (who was a Mary Kay BC that I ordered from) suggested I sell them instead. Eventually, I quit my government job and started doing this full time.” “I used to own a gift basket and balloon store. One day a Mary Kay BC walked into my shop and told me all about her work. I didn't buy anything from her but we kept in touch. During that time I saw her getting all kinds of stuff and making a lot money, so I figured: that’s not so bad, and started doing it on the side. A few years ago my husband passed away so I gave up the shop and became a full time Mary Kay BC. This coming December will mark my 17 year anniversary with the company.” “I quit my previous job when I had my first child. After my second child turned four, I felt like it was time for me to go back into work again. Also my husband and I could really use some extra money. So I looked for part time jobs. Tried a few other things but none of them worked. Then I came across Mary Kay. It works perfectly for me.” “I was a librarian before but after my husband’s job got we had to move. I couldn’t find a job like my old one so I was unemployed for a while. The wife of one of husband’s colleague introduced me to Mary Kay and recruited me. “
2. What is it like to work for Mary Kay? • • • •
“Mary Kay is the best company to work for in direct sales.” “Mary Kay takes care of its employees through every stage of his or her lives’.” “Mary Kay encourages women. But it does not put pressure on them. The only pressure you get is from yourself. Nobody feels forced, rather driven.” “Nationals retire at the age of 65. By then they can get any Cadillac they pick and get the same amount of their last year’s commission for the next ten years. Even if they die, their families get the money.” “Each quarter you have the chance to become a star BC. They give you awards, and not just cars, but jewelry, furniture, home appliance, and other things too. It all depends on how you run your business. Once you start your business, you’re responsible for it. But you are not alone. There is always help. Your recruiter and director will come to your classes and parties to supervise and help you.” “I’m in my nature a helper. Working with Mary Kay makes me feel like I am truly helping people.” “We are not employees of Mary Kay, we are business women who run our own businesses. We work with Mary Kay.”
3. How does Mary Kay rank vs. other direct sales organizations? • • •
“We are definitely better than Amway and Avon.” “Argonne is the closest in direct sales. Their skin care line is decent, but expensive, and not as diverse as Mary Kay’s.” “Mary Kay has earned Good Housekeeping approval, which is a great honor that no one else in direct sales has been awarded.”
“Mary Kay is the best cosmetics brands in direct sales, and one of the best in the entire direct sales category.”
4. What do we learn from the competition to improve ourselves? • • • • •
“We approach our customer in a more personal and caring way.” “We learned from the failure of other direct sales brands how to approach people without making them defensive and lose them.” “We focus not only on the products, but also more on the experience and care we provide.” “We position ourselves high. Our competitors are higher-end brands like Clinique, Estee Lauder or Lancôme.” “We have a home delivery service and a regular subscription service where a customer can sign up and have the right item automatically sent to her on time so she won’t run out of anything.” “We try to make things more social in Mary Kay. This is an experience you can never get from most of our competitors.” “Most of the cosmetics you buy from counters or drugstores are impossible to return. Mary Kay has a 100% guaranteed return policy. You can return them if they don’t work for you or you just simply don’t like them.” “In Avon they put too much pressure on the sales people, you have to order from every single book they issue monthly. Mary Kay doesn’t do that. We are considerate to all the BCs, which is better motivation for them.”
5. Plusses and minuses of Mary Kay Training? • • • •
“The frequency is rather high. They have classes and seminars almost every week and month.” “They offer scholarships for outstanding BCs in the training.” “They train you on everything. Not just beauty and products, but culture, trends, marketing, sales skills, practical skills too.” “They make everything in Mary Kay a learning experience, but you have to be an active learner because nobody is obliged to train you. To some extent, you are training yourself.” “Technically you don’t need a lot of training to start your business, all you need is the starter kit, and everything is in there. But you have to get enough training if you want to be really good at it.” “Even though there are a lot of resources out there, everybody is self-directed. You can’t learn anything unless you make yourself learn.”
6. Do they really know more about beauty than their customers? • • • •
“Sometimes, yes.” “It depends. It’s all subjective.” “I believe the only thing the customers know more about is themselves. Nobody can claim that they know other people’s skin better.” “I took a lot of classes and did some training so I think there are a lot of things I know more about than they do.”
7. What (specifically) does Mary Kay know more about than their customers? • • • • • •
“Fundamental causes of their skin problems.” “Better solutions to their skin problems than what they are doing now.” “The manufacturing process of makeups and skin care products, and the basic ingredients.” “Skills to apply make up.” “New things in the market and the field.” “I’m a certificated color specialist so I know more about colors than most of my customers. I know what matches their skin tone and clothes.”
8. How does Mary Kay learn from their customers? • • • • • •
“From YouTube videos. I set aside some time each week dedicated to watching new videos on YouTube, blogs, and Facebook.” “Customers sometimes will know something I don’t know and share it with me. If I’m intrigued I’ll go home and research on it.” “I read magazines like Glamour, Elle and Marie Claire. I subscribe to almost all of them. And I read famous beauty blogs.” “I talk to dermatologists sometimes and they will teach me something.” “Training sessions, power classes and seminars provided by the company.” “Talking to other BCs or directors.”
9. What are the qualities of the most successful BCs? • • • • • • • • • • •
“They don’t have to be super smart or highly educated, but they have to know what they are doing.” “They are motivated.” “They are confident and brave.” “They are charismatic.” “They study a lot and never stop learning.” “They know how to build a network.” “They know how to reach a balance between caring and annoying.” “They are optimistic, and also uplifting to other people.” “They are ambitious, but they are not dragon lady and they are not aggressive.” “They are friendly and warm.” “I think the most successful ones are the women who once had a hard time in their life and got back on their feet with Mary Kay.”
10. What about the ones who fail? •
“You can’t really fail at Mary Kay. You buy a starter’s kit at the price of $100 for the product worth $410. You can sell the products, but if you fail to do so, you can
• • •
always keep if for yourselves or return it to get a 90% refund. But you can never come back to Mary Kay again.” “If you stopped ordering products for over a year, they will suspend you, but once you start to order again they will reactivate you.” “Nobody fails at Mary Kay. Some are successful. But even if you quit, it doesn’t mean that you fail.” “Some people quit Mary Kay and they end up doing great in something else, so you can’t say there are people who fail.”
11. How much money can they make? • •
“If you bring someone else into the company, you will get a monthly commission from the company based on what they made last month. So it is a win-win.” “According to the inside magazine, the “nationals” can make up to five or six digits for monthly commission and bonuses. And most of the regional star BCs make $10,000-$35,000 monthly for commissions and bonuses. That does not include what they make from the sales they make themselves.” “When you get to a certain level, technically you can stop selling products and start directing people under you and live on commissions and bonuses.” “There are reward cars from the company. And not just the famous pink Cadillac. They have in total 14 cars for different levels of rewarding. Some of the BCs can get more than one, even four or five.”
12. How much money do they actually make? • “When the BCs make a sell, they make half the amount the customer pays.” • “Most of the local BCs don’t make as much as star ones.” • “It depends on the location and the population.” (J.Schmeling, 2013) (I.Branch, 2013) (C.Barth, 2013) Mary Kay clearly has some very dedicated employees (if everything can be taken as truth). PZTS did not come across a single Mary Kay employee with a single overt criticism of the company. The good news for Mary Kay is that they have a dedicated army of BCs. Now it is their job to put these women to good use against some tough competition, both direct and indirect.
THE RIVALS: COMPETITION AVON Out of the top ten direct selling global companies in 2012, Avon came in at first place with $10.7 billion in global sales. In a Business Rankings Annual report, Avon was listed as the fourth most valuable cosmetics/personal care brand. Mary Kay came in in sixth place with just $3.1 billion in sales and was not ranked by Business Rankings Annual report. Given the difference in annual revenues it can be gathered that Avon is one of the most prominent competitors for Mary Kay in the global direct selling category (F’12, MRI Beauty Health Report, Mary Kay).
Similar to Mary Kay, Avon sells beauty products ranging from color cosmetics to skin care products and fragrances for both men and women. The company also sells their products to customers through their multitude of independent sales representatives. As of December 2012, the company has 6.4 million active independent representatives. Avon also has a wide operational network that allows them to serve their customers from all over the world. The company operates its sales operation in more than sixty territories and countries from North America to Latin America (Avon Products, Inc. - Financial and Strategic Analysis Review, 2012, p. 2). Unlike Mary Kay, in certain markets, Avon makes use of independent retail stores, satellite stores and decentralized branches to serve their independent sales representatives as well as their customers. PZTS conducted an interview with Henry Gyamfi, an independent Avon representative with his own Avon store in the Destiny USA mall. Henry claims that Avon gave him the opportunity to grow his future business ventures by giving him a platform through which he could learn to sell on his own (H. Gyamfi, personal communication, November 2, 2013). From an employee perspective, Mr. Henry Gyamfi provided great insight into the Avon world. He has been working with Avon for the past ten years as a side job in order to supplement his income. In his view, “Avon is number one, compared to none.” Throughout his experience working as a direct salesperson, he has been to many presentations of sales companies and he was never sold on participating because the entrance fee to become an independent sales representative was very expensive. Avon’s entrance fee to participate is ten dollars. Other direct sales companies have been known to have $200 dollar entrance fees. Mr. Gyamfi explained to me that he felt that women are instantly spellbound by a certain product or brand. He does not believe that it takes women very long to love or hate something they try on. “If it works they buy it, if not then they do not,” he says (H. Gyamfi, personal communication, November 2, 2013). He went on to say that most of the women that shop for Avon products in his experience are aged thirty and up. Mr. Gyamfi said that by having his Avon store at the mall, it is easier for customers to just come to him and buy his products then go to other independent sales consultants that have to order the products they want. At his store, everything is already there so customers can purchase the products they want and take it with them instead of waiting for the order to be delivered. So while this is not “direct sales” in the common sense of the word, it is a auxiliary alternative, and one that Mary Kay could consider.
AMWAY Amway is a subsidiary company of Alticor, a global distribution parent company based out of Ada, Michigan. In 2012, Alticor generated 11.3 billion in sales, amounting to a 1 billion dollar increase from 2011(Alticor, 2013). As a subsidiary company to Alticor, Amway specializes in the direct sales of luxury cosmetic products. What differentiates Amway from other company is their chairman Jay Van Andel’s commitment to building better communities worldwide. In 2007, Van Andel, and company president Rich Devos launched Growth Through Innovation, a program that provides people living in poverty the opportunity to become entrepreneurs (Amway,
2013). Beyond that, Amway’s “One by One” campaign for children has gained global recognition with 2.7 million volunteer hours by employees (Gregg, 2013). Countries where Amway is present include China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela. All of Amway’s overseas operations are highly profitable. In 2012 the company amassed 10.9 billion dollars in global revenue, most of which came from cosmetic brands (Yager, 2012). Amway’s most popular cosmetic products are ARTISTRY Crème, ARTISTRY Intensive Skincare Renewing Peel, and ARTISTRY Intensive Skincare Anti-Wrinkle Firming Serum (Amway, 2013). The average Amway consumer is willing to spend money on high quality products if she knows the product will be worth the money (Marjorie, 2013). Their top markets are now in China, Japan, and Thailand, making them a very appealing brand for Asian women (Yager, 2013). Moreover, Amway’s charitable reputation is very alluring to conscientious consumers.
NETOGRAPHY This netography explores the social and biological influences motivating cosmetic use. Because Mary Kay is attempting to reach the millennial market, it was crucial to examine this generation’s domain: the Internet. To understand current beauty trends, PZTS examined twenty online videos chronicling the habits, motivations, and differences among cosmetic users. All twenty videos can be found in the Appendix, however the eight most crucial videos are represented in the following pages. The title, # of views, main products mentioned and the general theme from most of the videos will be included. This includes the major characteristics, a quote, and overall theme from each video. All information was collected inductively. 1. Rhaea Estelle (Everyday Make-Up Routine) Views: 1,681,633 Products: Benefit/Smash Box/Cover Girl/L’Oreal true concealer, Combining different makeup products is a way for women to experiment with new styles to see what works best. Having different styles to match with different moods and situations is what heavy makeup users ultimately strive for. 2. Rhaea Estelle (Celebrity Inspired Tutorial) Views: 611,741 Products: Nivea chap stick, L'Oreal Base, Hello Flawless, Benefit, F 88 by Stigma, True match conceal or redness/ blemishes Combination/ Revlon Highlighter S- Stroke, Suspect "unleashing" pencil brush" Cosmetic users are their own makeup artists. 3. Andreas Choice 2013 Drug Store Haul Views: 786,251 Products: L’Oreal, Mac Think Pink, 981 Cherry Bomb, Deep Plum, Prosecea, Clairol, S&G, Olay, Wet and Wild, Secret.
They use the products that work, but never stop searching for the perfect product. 4. Dulce Candy's Makeup Collection 2013 Views: 1,705, 535 Products: Array of different brushes (too many to include) The responses show that a ladies’ make-up collection is a material representation of their degree of participation as a consumer and purveyor of cosmetic products. 5. Miss Universe- KROYLON Makeup Views 167, 603 Products: Various Kroylon make-ups Finding that style that works for you is about knowing yourself and focusing on the feeling of being beautiful. 6. Nicole Guerriero. Vanity Fair+Makeup Collection+Organization Views: 574,840 Products: Eve Pearl, Mac, Benefit, Urban Decay, etc., L'Oreal Candy Line For heavy makeup users, extensive makeup collections represent possibilities. I can use that or this, or even both. 7. Get Ready With Me- Nicole Guerriero Views: 1,376, 375 Heavy Makeup user, over 20 products are being used Women who are heavy makeup users treat makeup as an extension of who they are as a person. 8. Beauty Ideal Around The World Views: 1,660 ·
In Egypt skin tone is linked to status
In America, Ideals are thin, skinny, and tall
In Turkey, Makeup is a symbol of liberation/rebellion
Eyes are symbol of beauty in Islamic countries
In China there is an emphasis on small features
(Google Inc., 2013) There is a sense of individuality in America. Cultural identities are changing and therefore ideals with change with it. Today beauty, whether it is culturally, socially, or biologically rendered remains a symbolic form of identity for women.
THE HISTORY OF BEAUTY Adorning the body and face with different colors and objects has long been a symbol of human attraction and cultural ritual. PZTS has just explored the modern communication of beauty, but what is the historical significance? Beauty is transforming
the individual body into a social symbol (Synoot and Howes, 1992). In ancient times, red ochre, a face and body paint, was used to signal royalty (Schildkrout, 2004). In Egypt, Cleopatra used the seduction of beauty to achieve power (Ager, 2006). Early in American history, female notions of beauty, gender, and culture came from fairy tales. In the last decade, reality television, advertising, and the music industry have all impacted popular notions of beauty (Speery and Grauerholz, 2003).
COSMETICS INDUSTRY Cosmetic companies represent the applied beautification of face and body. The different qualities connected to social and cultural ideas of perceived beauty fall into two categories: the organic and the material. The material unlike the organic includes the application of any product, substance, or property that changes physical appearance. Of course different types of beauty norms act as different identity markers, but within the cosmetic industry there exists a defined idea of beauty. In America, popular notions of beauty are associated with thin, tall, and physiologically proportionate women with flawless skin. This has propelled the cosmetic industry forward as women now spend over 7 billion dollars each year on cosmetics (Segal, 2012). It is important to note the difference between heavy and moderate cosmetic users. Women using upwards of ten products per day are classified as heavy users (super users). Heavy makeup use is a ritualistic experience. These are women who buy products at least once a week, have different makeup styles, and rely on cosmetic products to boost self-esteem. “Brush-up” users are very different. They emphasize organic beauty and use makeup efficiently. They use makeup sparingly, own only a couple products, and spend very little time in front of the mirror. To them, beauty is like cooking with spices, you use only enough so that the natural taste of all the flavors still remain.
TRANSITIONS Over the last two decades there have been three major transitions happening on the socio-cultural level. Firstly, women’s social/economic mobility has dramatically increased as more women are now graduating from college (Perry, 2013). Secondly, cosmetic advertising sets unattainable standards. The impact this has on women’s lives is massive because inevitably most women cannot live-up to the appearance- based standards seen in advertising. Lastly, the idea of beauty is becoming infused with different cultural styles. Today, more men and women from different ethnic backgrounds are getting married and having children. Therefore, beauty brands need to deliver a diverse message and reach out to different ethnic and cultural groups to remain relevant. This impacts the cosmetic industry for a number of reasons. For heavy makeup users, having the right kind of makeup acts a catalyst for personal confidence. It is about looking sexy and sensationalizing features associated with sex appeal. For “brush-up” users, there seems to be a resistance and disdain toward the cosmetics industry for encouraging an unrealistic portrayal of beauty. However, it is heavy cosmetic users who drive the cosmetic market and not the other way around. They purchase, own, promote, and take pride in consuming cosmetics products. To them, beauty is about acknowledgement, success, and confidence. Because of this, avid makeup users are more
open to trying new products because it is a means to an end. “Brush-up” users are more willing to stand behind a cause such as a natural beauty campaign whose products promote health over style because they perceive beauty and health interchangeably.
SYMBOLS When celebrities, models, and musicians endorse cosmetic products for advertising purposes they reinforce an image of beauty that dictates a socialization process for most women (Sharpe, 2003). While different cosmetic methods and styles are unique to particular cultures, an idea of universal beauty inherent in biological desires extends to all cultures. For instance, physical features that act as symbols of attraction are the lips, waistline, breasts, and brow –line, and oval face (Gangstad and Scheyd, 2005). Whether people are conscious of it or not, the more symmetrical these features are, the more attractive they appear (Little and Jones, 2003). Definition is also very important. For instance, women’s facial lips swell during ovulation making lush lips a physiological symbol of sex appeal (Stewart, 2011). When looking at heavy makeup users, an emphasis on lips is very noticeable as the lips are always lush and glossed over with pink or red lipstick. Therefore, makeup when used as a symbol of beauty is about symmetry and decorative expressions that provoke symbols of human attraction; the blush face, the rosy red lips, and seducing pupils. Beauty and sexuality have always meant one thing: power. Can this power come through within a brand’s image? Does the Mary Kay experience make women feel like sexual goddesses or common peasants?
THE MARY KAY EXPERIENCE THE WEBSITE E-commerce has reached saturation within the U.S retail market. More than ever, consumers are relying on time-efficient and convenient means of shopping. Time has become the consumer’s most limited resource. Online consumers are also engaging with retailers beyond the transaction with online reviews and social media. Consumers are seeking information on beauty products by reading through the CGM reviews. These consumers are also utilizing their mobile devices to engage with the brand. This provides another vehicle through which retailers can resonate with their consumers. According to author Sharon Romanowski, “…the internet has become a bit of an equalizer, giving anyone (who has internet access) the opportunity to research and purchase specialty beauty products.” Consumers can shop at their own convenience from home or from any other location (S. Romanowski, Mintel Beauty Online Report, Executive Summary, 2012, pg. 5). The Mary Kay Official Company website is visually appealing to the average visitor. Navigation remains simple and straightforward throughout the entire site. The website provides resources such as instructional videos on proper make-up application, and even a BC locator. The Mary Kay website also offers appealing e-catalogues which
succeed at showcasing Mary Kay products such as, Mary Kay At Play, Botanical Effects, Clearproof Acne products, and other Mary Kay products. This digital tool allows for the Mary Kay consumer to look through quarterly and specialty catalogues. These catalogues are available through the website as well as the Mary Kay mobile app (F’2012, MRI, Beauty Health Report, Mary Kay, pg. 35). Another digital tool that the website offers with their companion mobile app is the “virtual makeup” tool. With this tool, customers have the option to upload a photo from their phone or choose a model’s photo. The app allows for the user to try on different looks, try on different foundations and different hairstyles. From there, users can then save the look they created to their mobile device. The consumer can save the Mary Kay products that she liked the best for later purchase, or she can buy the entire look she has just digitally created. The consumer can go another step and show of their look on the social media platform of her choice. The Skincare Regimen Advisor Digital Tool allows for users to handpick a model that closely mirrors her actual appearance, click on a button and instantly receive a daily skin care regimen tailored to her needs (F’2012, MRI, Beauty Health Report, Mary Kay, pg. 34). In an effort to have more of an expert viewpoint on the experience of the Mary Kay website, PZTS interviewed Ms. Sherri Taylor, Coordinator for Scholastic Programs and Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University. She teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced graphic arts classes as well as developing and coordinating workshops in software training for beginner graphic design courses. One of the statements that stood out the most throughout the interview with Professor Taylor was when she said, “They (Mary Kay) are showing their face to the world through their website.” This is significant because a brand’s website (should) speak with some validity of how the brand wants to be positioned to its consumers. She went on to say that the abundance of white space on the website connects to the notion of how everyone wants to think of their makeup as being “clean.” Professor Taylor explained that many designs are often dark and crowded and therefore ineffective. On the home page for the US website, there is a lot of information included about the product that does not require the website’s visitors to scroll through any pages to find it. Professor Taylor says that the Mary Kay website does a good job of covering their bases at the bottom of the page and that overall it is an above average site. Professor Taylor also made a point to mention that Mary Kay products are in her opinion usually purchased by women older than 18-24. Professor Taylor said, “I think they are aiming to capture this market (18-24), but they are not exactly capturing their older market either”(S. Taylor, 2013). One great thing to notice is that when one looks through the different pages of the site, he or she can see models of different ethnic backgrounds and skin tones. The use of different types of models is very uplifting and hopeful for customers of different ethnic backgrounds and races. It is evident that the website is definitely making an effort to capture a young and diverse market, but their efforts may be proving futile.
FOREIGN WEBSITES Ms. Taylor noticed right away that the Mexican site for Mary Kay was very different from the U.S. version. In contrast to the crisp white background of the US site, the Mexican site had a dark background, was more crowed and not as clean as the U.S. site. Information at the bottom of the site appears different then the US Website, social media icons look very different; the site is just not as vibrant. When we went over the Russian and Chinese websites, she also felt as though the design and overall visual appeal were not as strong as the U.S. Mary Kay site. She recommended that Mary Kay corporate try to make all of their websites designed in a similar fashion to appeal equally with all different types of women. Easier said than done (S. Taylor, personal communication, November 4, 2013). PZTS and Ms. Taylor then proceeded to look at the Avon website, for comparison. According to her, the home landing page was problematic because it was not very clear how a shopper could navigate. Once one gets past the landing page, the subsequent pages are a different experience and are much more interactive. “Once you explore it, there’s a dynamic energy there… there’s dynamic visual, dynamic type, again they have the same white space look that Mary Kay has as well.” They also have young people on their page as does Mary Kay has on their website. All in all though, she concluded that in her opinion the Avon website was too cluttered in comparison to the Mary Kay website (S. Taylor, 2013). Next was the Amway website. Ms. Taylor instantly noticed that there were not any dominant visuals that made her become more engaged with the website. It is not as interactive as the Mary Kay website because nothing moves or scrolls. The website also has a virtual makeover tool similar to Mary Kay that she thought was fun. However the Amway website paled in comparison to Mary Kay (S. Taylor, 2013). While the Mary Kay website overall is a surprising triumph, there are some areas where improvement could take place. Mary Kay should announce and display the various awards they have won, this seems like an industry standard lacking from their site. Lastly, with the direction media is heading they should fully embrace the layout of their mobile app. The mobile app is fantastic and simple to use, copying the app for the website would convey continuity while also enhancing user experience.
SOCIAL MEDIA YouTube • Mary Kay’s YouTube page has 35,329 subscribers with a total of 3,512,432 views • Amway’s YouTube page has 20,980 subscribers and 13, 181,297 views • Avon, has 12,190 subscribers and only 1,303, 548 views Instagram • Mary Kay’s Instagram followers = 31,122 • Avon Instagram page has 16,928 followers • Amway does not have an official Instagram Pinterest • Mary Kay has 23,335 followers
• Avon has 2,023 followers • Amway does not have a Pinterest account Facebook • American page 1,442,699 likes with 65,806 users “talking about it” • Mexican page has 108,708 likes and 33,640 users talking about the page • Mary Kay’s Brasil page has 1,076,647 likes and 99,051 people talking about it • The American page includes direct links to learn more about the company, information on how to become a beauty consultant, other social media pages and videos o This is also available on the Mary Kay Mexican and Brazilian page • Avon has 4,971,951 likes and 164,603 people talking • Amway’s Facebook page has just 250, 629 likes and only 11,324 people talking about it • On October 26, Mary Kay informed their fans that they were the official beauty sponsor of Project Runway • This announcement came with a contest to win a Project Runway All Stars inspired beauty bundle • This post garnered 2,000 likes, 741 shares and over 40 comments Twitter • Mary Kay’s U.S. twitter page has 44,573 followers and has composed over 1,383 tweets • Mary Kay Brazil’s Twitter page has 22,083 followers and has created 6,422 original tweets • Mary Kay’s Mexico page has 31,106 followers and 2,684 tweets. • Unlike Mary Kay, Avon has more than twenty Twitter pages. Their main Twitter page has 63,783 followers and has 3,910 original tweets • Amway is also represented to a high degree on Twitter with more than thirty different pages. The central twitter page for Amway has 51,192 followers and 2,237 tweets Dr. Ward, professor of Social Media Theory and Practice at Syracuse University proposed PZTS should use online tracking analytics tools to get quantitative analysis results on the Mary Kay experience online. (W. Ward, 2013)
TWEET REACH • • • •
Tweets mentioning the key words Mary Kay have reached 44, 241 accounts and have gained over 61,668 total impressions The top contributor for the highest exposure was @MaryKayDeMexico with 31.1K impressions Avon’s reach = 70,515 accounts reached with 91,938 impressions Amway’s reach = 222,165 with an exposure of 264,043 impressions
@marykay has reached over 800,000 accounts o There have been almost 1,300 original tweets, twenty-two @ message tweets and 182 retweets. @avon has reached about 1,500,000 accounts The hashtag #amway has reached about 900,000 accounts
It appears as though the majority of the users are engaging mostly with the brand on Facebook and Twitter. The company is very active on their separate twitter pages for the US, Mexico and Brazil. Mary Kay China is being represented on Weibo, which is a similar version of Twitter in China with the difference of having twice amount of users in comparison to twitter. This is an important arena to engage with since the site is home to 20% of the enormous Chinese population
EMPOWERMENT PZTS had to gauge whether or not Mary Kay was an empowering force in a woman’s life. To do this our group conducted a survey to understand the product usage among the age group as well as their beliefs about make-up. Of all the women surveyed, only a few actually actively used Mary Kay, one of these users was Karol Marquez. She exclusively uses Mary Kay foundation. In a personal interview she explained that although she is loyal to Mary Kay when it comes to her foundation, she did not find anything about Mary Kay particularly empowering. Even though having a foundation that works well with her skin tone makes her feel confidant about her appearance, she is not getting an empowering message from Mary Kay. Another participant, 24, said she has used Mary Kay products in the past but she never felt empowered by the makeup company. If Mary Kay is seeking to empower their users, then they must make that their foremost goal. As it stands now women use this brand because it works and they can blend in with it, Mary Kay is keeping them as a princess when it is now time to be a queen. “I think the reason why I am even using Mary Kay now is because my mom sells Mary Kay so she introduced me to it,” said Karol. She had been having issues with foundations that she used in the past, so when she finally found something that worked she stuck with it. In her past experiences using foundations from other brands she noticed that a lot of them made her breakout and came off her skin as she began to sweat. “Even when I sweat a little, the foundation still stays on my face and I don’t have to reapply,” she said (K. Marquez, personal communication, November 6, 2013 and October 28, 2013). If Karol can be wooed by Mary Kay after one product and one use, imagine how many other girls within the age group could be persuaded to try the make-up if they knew it worked and brought out their inner queen.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY If more women knew about the current Mary Kay Corporate Responsibility, they would be more willing to purchase their products. Most respondents were not even aware of the good that Mary Kay can do for a community. Once these girls found out, however, they were much more inclined and interested to try the product. With the advent of popularity based on social responsibility (e.g. Tom’s Shoes) Mary Kay should embrace this trend and make their charitable work known.
MEASURING THE MARY KAY EXPERIENCE By maintaining constant communication with customers throughout their shopping experience, Mary Kay would begin to understand how their consumers feel about their products and more importantly their brand. If Mary Kay created an online accessible survey they would be able to receive feedback from current, former and prospective customers. Feedback is a crucial cornerstone in any business, and right now Mary Kay has made giving feedback a process, much like finding a BC. If Mary Kay were open to engaging in this consumer feedback whether it be the basic online survey or through alternative methods such as touching base with the customers in person at the point of purchase, through mail surveys, etc. Mary Kay would be better able to gauge the overall sentiments of their consumers and more importantly the cosmetics industry. Each customer is different but all customers want to have a positive and memorable experience when shopping. By engaging in this method of measurement, Mary Kay will not only begin to have a quantifiable measure of how their services are accepted by consumers but they will also be putting the power in the consumers hands to say, “This is want I want, this is where I think things can be improved and this is what I enjoyed.” Empowerment is not about giving up power but rather giving equal power to everyone for the greater good.
THE INSIGHT Research means little to nothing if it cannot be succinctly synthesized. There have been references, some slight and some overt to PZTS’ biggest insight for Mary Kay. Could you guess it? The age of the stifled southern belle is dead. The princess is free from her tower. It is time for the queen to rule. Women aged 18 – 24 do not want to be the princess, they want to be the MotherF#*%ing queen. She is not a little girl and she is not receptive to the world telling her that she is anything but royalty. She is her own queen. She rules her own Internet domain. Her loyal subjects tell her which make-up they prefer but she ultimately makes all the decisions in her own life. She asks for help when she need it, she does not need to be spoken down to. Queens must be communicated to with elegance and poignancy, there time is valuable and to waste it is a crime. A princess is told what to do, a queen tells the entire world who she is.
THE CREATIVE BRIEF Why are we advertising? To make Mary Kay a desirable option for women 18-24.
Who are we talking to? Ambitious, driven and independent cosmetic users who embrace the new found opportunities offered to women today.
What do they currently think? “Mary Kay has lost touch with empowering the modern woman.”
What do we want them to think? “Mary Kay brings out the queen inside every woman.”
What is the single most persuasive idea we can convey? Mary Kay has empowered women for 50 years.
Why should they believe it? Mary Kay herself was a self-starting woman who founded the company on the premise of supporting women.
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