major success factors in perfumery and cosmetics

The fragrance and cosmetics industry is represented by hundreds of products released every year. In this highly competitive environment, where exposure is increasing, design brings a strong added value. As Paul McLaughlin, vice president and chief creative officer of beauty specialist Elizabeth Arden, points out:

“Packaging makes the whole business. Packaging is 70% of the beginning. If your packaging doesn’t work, you’re in big trouble.”

In the face of this demand, more and more companies turn to outsourcing to develop new product designs. In the perfume and cosmetics sector, Nina Ricci, for example, collaborated with Philippe Starck to renew his emblematic perfume, l’Air du Temps, and Kenzo worked with the designer Karim Rashid to design his new perfume bottles. We can mention the gold ingot for Paco Rabanne designed by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrence, or the handbag for the Decadence fragrance designed by Marc Jacobs.

The bottle was designed by Philippe Starck.
Image of the Starck.fr website

Today, some companies dedicate 50% of their planning to external design (especially through design departments). Therefore, external designers and marketers need to work together more often. Although this relationship is important for the success of the innovation process and is a common case of collaboration between a development partner (outsourced design) and a function in the market (marketing), this is little known relationship However, poor management of their relationship can lead to business failure.

From product design to product design

An in-depth analysis of new product launches in the perfume and cosmetics sector was made in the French beauty market. Interviews with external vendors and designers working on the same project provided insight into how they worked at each stage of the innovation process.

Our analysis shows the importance of three success factors:

  • worked together;

  • the involvement of key decision-makers in both teams (the brand and the design team);

  • the “quality of the relationship”, which refers to mutual trust and commitment.

It also features three new key success factors:

  • thanks to the trademark by the designer

  • number of steps in the innovation process related to external design;

  • the designer’s skill base.

It shows that brand exposure, which is an important asset for a business, must be carefully managed. Therefore, the customer must ensure that the brand identity is respected. For this, he needs to know how much the exterior designer focuses on the specific values ​​of the brand. This can be encouraged by engaging key decision makers, especially marketing managers, to share the brand’s vision and values. The report shows that it is important to involve external designers in many stages of the innovation process, be it the idea, the business or the start-up stage.

The relationship between marketing and external design should be changed in the view of the external designer. If a designer is customer-oriented (indicated by his closeness to his customers and his organizational style), marketing managers should encourage the designer’s involvement. about name recognition, even if they didn’t work together. used to.

A star does not guarantee success

When the designer works in the process (his knowledge is based on special development processes and organizational capabilities), customers should include him as soon as possible in the new process, i.e. back to upstream levels such as identifying patterns or making suggestions. then in the new product development process.

For example, the Chinese brand Herborist asked the design company Cent Degrés to develop the design of a new range of skin care products. Founded 110 years ago in Shanghai, Herborist is deeply rooted in Chinese medicine. The office was asked to give the brand a modern look, without losing the original spirit of the brand. Cent Degrés has used its creative process based on brand introduction, evaluation and general disease of the companies involved in the process. This process led to the creation of a new brand platform for the Herborist resulting in new design principles (platform style). The company is then involved in all stages of the product development process leading to a successful launch.

Established star designers (based on their creativity and talent) are attractive to marketing agencies because they offer a competitive edge in terms of creativity, diversity and co-branding. The use of the star designer is expected to increase the success of the new product. However, our research shows that this is not proven. Our results show that it is difficult to work with star designers, who may not appreciate the identity of the brand where they work. To promote the success of the new product, marketers and star designers must create mechanisms to ensure consistency with the brand identity.

The Kenzo bottle with a design by Karim Rashid.
The Kenzo website.

The case of Kenzo Amour shows how well Kenzo managed his relationship with star designer Karim Rashid. First of all, Kenzo has chosen a designer who loves the world of color, to match the brand’s values, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ and his signature image can enhance the DNA of Kenzo. Second, the star designer was gradually introduced to the brand through small collaborations in projects such as Kenzo Summer eau de toilette in 2005 and Kenzo Ryo in 2008. Third, Karim Rashid was asked to design Kenzo Amour perfume. He designed a curved bottle in an orange, fuchsia or gold frame, echoing the DNA of the fashion brand that is still successful in 2019. This case shows the general vision of the goals Each party has a reason for success as important. design features and popularity.

Marketing innovation is critical to the success of the innovation process. Marketing departments are looking for new ways to create ideas that lead to a strong competitive advantage. The relationship with external development partners, and external designers, is often developed. It is therefore important for marketers to better understand the success factors of the innovation process.


This article is based on research published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management in March 2019, “Drivers and Pathways of NPD Success in the Marketing-External Design Relationship.”

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