Garnier Nutritionist: the making of a brand

Garnier, a division of Paris-based L'Oréal, is like a 'battle horse' in Europe, says Marcus Owtram, product manager of Garnier Canada's Skin Naturals, able to launch products with immediate credibility. Not so in Canada. 'Here, we only have had a year to pitch consumers on our skincare line,' he says.

Garnier, a division of Paris-based L’Oréal, is like a ‘battle horse’ in Europe, says Marcus Owtram, product manager of Garnier Canada’s Skin Naturals, able to launch products with immediate credibility. Not so in Canada. ‘Here, we only have had a year to pitch consumers on our skincare line,’ he says.

Having somewhat cemented its place in the hair care category with Fructis, Garnier launched its Skin Naturals skincare line in January 2005. After just a year, the line, which now includes 16 SKUs, grabbed a 4% market share in its category. Here, the company prepares to launch the latest extension, Nutritionist.

Early 2005

* The global Garnier team meets in Paris to give regional honchos a head’s-up on Nutritionist. Owtram attends. HQ is eager to market the brand as a separate franchise. Since Nutritionist uses natural ingredients it can be positioned around health.

July 2005

* Nutritionist launches in the ‘Europe 5′ countries – France, U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain. HQ develops its global launch pack spelling out the brand’s DNA: Skin is one of the last organs in the body to benefit from the nutrients you consume. Garnier’s promo materials suggest Nutritionist ‘feeds the skin’ by delivering omega 3, 6 and magnesium in its creams.

* To distinguish itself from other Garnier products, the Nutritionist packaging is made distinctively black – a colour meant to signify technology and innovation.

November 2005

* The Canadian team flies to Paris again to discuss the launch. Consumer feedback in Europe indicates there is confusion about the concept of ‘nutrition for the skin,’ and how omegas and magnesium work. Julie Gauvin, Garnier account director at ZenithOptimedia (Garnier’s media agency for almost a decade) is still confident that Nutritionist can be a ‘key hero product.’

‘It comes at a time when people are more concerned about wellness and feeding their skin,’ she says.

* The Canadian office is offered new products: day and night moisturizers, an eye cream and an SPF line.

Nov. 15-Dec. 15, 2005

* Owtram and the Montreal research team test the concept behind Nutritionist in the local market. ‘People associate Garnier with the Fructis [shampoo] and recognize the styling products, but don’t naturally associate it with skin care,’ says Gauvin.

* Garnier surveys 163 females 25-45 across the country who use moisturizer daily to determine whether consumers understand the alliance of nutrition and dermatology, and whether the packaging is appealing. Focus groups are also held in Toronto and Montreal. The answer comes back loud and clear: Simplify the message.

* The issue of credibility also emerges. Garnier renews Muriel Howden’s contract. Howden is a seasoned Québécoise aesthetician who will participate in in-store campaigns and TV advertorials. ‘Garnier is distributed on the shelves, not at beauty counters,’ says Gauvin. ‘So we needed an agent of education.’

December 2005

* Owtram meets with the supply chain, retailers like Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart, to forecast product demand and

plan procurement.

March 2006

* Owtram wrestles with pricing. With Skin Naturals line they were cautious to launch at a reasonable price, but with Nutritionist, Owtram gambles: The Nutritionist line is marked at $18.99 – compared to the $14.99 and $10.99 price point of some other Garnier products.

June 20, 2006

* Mylène Ménard, PR

co-ordinator for Garnier, invites magazine beauty editors from across the country to Toronto. Howden and Maggie Amos, a doctor in naturopathy and a nutrition expert, make a presentation to 50 journalists. This leads to mentions in several magazines, including Glow, Fashion, Loulou and Flare.

Aug. 8, 2006

* Product lands on shelves in the likes of Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart, Loblaws, and Jean Coutu.

* AOR Publicis launches a Nutritionist online contest through Consumers can sign up for free samples and/or participate in a Wellness Vacation Getaway contest.

* Nutritionist launches a teaser campaign in the September issues of Elle Canada, Chatelaine, Flare, Clin d’oeil and Coup de pouce. The ad features a spoonful of cream being applied across a woman’s cheek. Is it yogurt? On the next page it’s revealed the women is trying a new nutritional skin care product. The tagline reads: ‘Smooth fine lines. Boost radiance.’ The teaser is adapted from a campaign developed by the Australian regional office. ‘The message we wanted to get across is feed your skin,’ says Gauvin.

* An advertorial outlining the product’s strategy, along with samples, and testimonials is purchased in Glow Health. Coupons for Shoppers’ Optimum plan are offered when they purchase a Garnier product. ‘To create awareness for a brand like this, it makes sense to complement the campaign with information in advertorial form,’ says Gauvin.

Sept. 4, 2006

* Ads with samples attached are purchased in Chatelaine, Glow Health and Coup de pouce. Over one million samples of Garnier’s Day Moisturizer are distributed to consumers.

* A two-wave TV campaign begins. ‘To build awareness quickly we bought a mix of spots in top 20 shows on CTV and Global,’ says Dorte Castel-Branco, director, broadcast investments at ZenithOptimedia. Specialty buys included Life, CMT, Bravo and TVtropolis.

The TV, adapted from the international campaign, is limited to English Canada. Because of the ties to France, ‘the brand performs better in Quebec,’ Gauvin explains. ‘The fact that (English) Canadian women don’t know Garnier well was the primary challenge.’ The ad features a woman applying the cream while a voiceover tells her to ‘take care.’ The Canadian team decides to emphasize the nutritional component by incorporating a slide that lists the ingredients.

* Publicis partners with specialty channel W and Garnier sponsors the Smart Women’s Survival Guide. Howden, Garnier’s skin coach, is worked into the storyline and invited to guest. It is subtle product integration for the entire Garnier portfolio.

* Although the CRTC does not allow the show to name products on-air, the online version of the show gives a link to Garnier products. The deal also includes billboards at the beginning and end of each TV ep. Pre-promo plugs mention Garnier, and the featured clip of Howden serves to build her as a credible expert.

Second week of September 2006

* Toronto field marketing company, Match Marketing, erects displays in Wal-Mart. Skincare coaches offer consultations over four weekends in 100 Wal-Mart stores across the country.

Oct. 9-29, 2006

* Match puts a massive mall installation in Toronto’s Eaton Centre. The ‘Nutritionist Zone,’ as it’s dubbed, looks much like a hyper beauty bar complete with TV monitors and billboard. Howden, plus a nutritionist, are recruited to give in-store advice. Six skincare experts are also on hand for three weeks. Samples are handed out and customers are directed to a Shoppers Drug Mart in the mall (where another skin care expert is deployed). On weekends Howden, along with a nutritionist, gives seminars to groups of 10 people at a time.

In addition, a team of eight samplers wander outside the mall offering teaser cards featuring a short questionnaire about skin nutrition to drive consumers inside.

Why a mall installation? ‘We know the point-of-purchase is there, and people are in the mood to try things,’ says Gauvin.

November 2006

* One month after its launch, 1% of the Skin Naturals line’s dollar volume is generated by Garnier Nutritionist.

The company plans to run a call-back to customers to gauge interest in the product. They also plan to expand the franchise to include new SKUs and grow Garnier Nutritionist as a pillar brand to its Skin Naturals franchise.