Many years in the cosmetic and beauty industry has taught marketing guru Karen Young, CEO of The Young Group, more than a few valuable lessons when it comes to successfully launching an indie beauty brand in a highly competitive global marketplace.
Zipping between Paris and New York consulting to a wide range of beauty consumer goods businesses including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and start-ups too, Karen Young, CEO of The Young Group, knows what it takes to win market share in the global beauty game.
With many years at Estée Lauder, Lancôme and now her own consultancy, Karen provides consumer trend driven product concepts to many large beauty companies as well as helping start-ups enter the market.
Karen, who teaches the Product Development course at The Clean Hub, says indie beauty brands face many challenges from the outset and it’s “critical” they take heed of four key pieces of advice when launching their brand:
1.) It’s going to take more time than you think
There are a million priorities for start-ups, with time being the biggest ‘enemy’, Karen says.
“Be patient and realize that success doesn’t happen overnight. Developing a successful brand story and distribution strategy takes time and the pay-off is bigger if you put in the time and effort early on,” she says.
2. It’s going to take more money than you think
Founders never seem to have enough hours in the day, but the same often goes with finances, Karen states.
“They’re often not aware how expensive it can be to enter this competitive, fragmented market. We help with that planning to make sure resources are allocated in the right areas,” she says.
“For example, understanding your distribution strategy and how you’ll enter the market is a key step. You might be focused on product development and getting all that right, but the costs of sales is just as important because it’s interrelated and will have a bearing on your financial position.”
3. Get an expert to help you
“Every industry has its own specific vocabulary and quirks and trying to navigate those waters by yourself if you don’t know the industry, well, it’s not only challenging, but you’re asking for trouble,” Karen says.
“If you can’t afford to bring on a consultant full-time, The Clean Hub – for an incredibly reasonable price – is introducing you to these experts who will help with these specific questions. Buy an hour or two of consulting time, prepare your questions, and get the expertise to save time and energy making mistakes that can be avoided.”
4. Sit back and enjoy the process
Remember, Karen warns, “done is never done”. She says entrepreneurs are always saying, “Oh, as soon as I get my website done, or product development done…I’ll be fine”.
Karen’s hard-hitting truth talk: “Wrong! It’s never done and it’s never fine”!
“You’ve always got a million things to do: PR, fundraising, design, marketing, staffing, so if you agonise over all this and don’t enjoy the learning process, even when you ‘stub your toe’ or take a wrong turn, those are important steps and you need to enjoy the ride.”
That means taking it slowly and doing the best you can in the beginning, she says.
“Retrofitting” a year later is a lot more expensive.
“Take the time early on to get that right. Obviously, the other side of that is not to get caught up in ‘analysis paralysis’ – you have to progress – but take it all in and enjoy the journey,” Karen says.
Karen Young launched The Young Group in early 1999, based in New York City. It has grown into a highly successful business. In 2005, The Young Group opened an office in Paris. The Young Group offers brand and marketing strategy, sensorial product training, consumer trend tracking, product development and market analyses in all categories of beauty. Karen offers her industry expertise, energy and strategic perspectives to The Clean Hub participants, teaching the Product Development course which is available online, with additional one-to-one consulting services to brands requiring extra support and guidance. For more information about the program or pricing, check out www.thecleanhub.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.