Re-branding to Grow Business: e.l.f.

E.l.f. is a brand that aims to tackle the competitive cosmetics market by offering affordably priced, premium makeup. They are one of the first to offer premium quality makeup at shockingly low prices, and came to be popular through the power of social media and micro-influencers. While certain marketing and brand tactics may have worked for E.l.f. as a startup, a company must change as they grow in order to be successful. One of the ways to do so includes rebranding.

The company is still performing well, but there are a few ways that they could rebrand and experience growth. One of the means of doing so could be, instead of a “creative and expressive” brand positioning, the company could position themselves as “trusted by professionals.” In addition to this, trusted by professionals, they can push being a sustainable makeup choice. E.l.f. can offer limited edition professional makeup artist lines, with their same affordable pricing, and cultivate partnership with larger influencers in the makeup industry—like famous YouTube makeup gurus. The company already demonstrates corporate social responsibility by not testing on animals, and they have developed a natural “minerals” line of product. They can make a move to be more conscientious of what is going into their products and have these influencers endorse the sustainability of the company. Cosmetics brand Pennellifaro (2017) asserts that sustainability and environmental /social awareness will be the number things driving consumer purchases in makeup for the 2017-2018 year. This would make advertising and positioning their product as natural and environmentally/socially aware something that would help them attract more consumers and solidify a position with the larger grandmothers of cosmetics like L’Oreal or Maybelline.

In terms of marketing, well-known influencers will play a role in promoting the product as such. While the company has said that people relate well to smaller influencers and that micro-influencers have more social reach, the company has already amassed a loyal fan base (Tode, 2017). The company utilized micro-influencers to be relatable, attract attention, and form a foundation for success. The company has been wildly successful by relying on this method as a means of word of mouth marketing and social media marketing. However, just because micro-influencers worked for them as a startup, it doesn’t mean it will work for them now. The company has grown so much since inception and accumulated a large following. Now, E.l.f. is at a crossroads where it needs to branch out and reposition their brand image as “sustainable,” in addition to being premium quality and affordable, because they now have the followers to vouch for them. Doing so would help give the company credibility as a quality brand—not just a cheap brand—as well as a socially responsible company. If something is cheap, especially makeup, people tend to shy away from it because they question the value. It’s probably bad quality, is what one would assume. Likewise, if product is full of harsh ingredients or sourced from undesirable places, millennial consumers—the ones who are purchasing due to CSR—will shy away from purchasing because that company does not reflect their own values or care about making the world a better place (which is the mantra of the millennials). By generating professional reviews and endorsements, the makeup community and millennials seeking quality product for low prices would be more inclined to purchase, and have a piece of mind in doing so. Millennials look for opinions any time they purchase, which is why the company utilized micro-influencers in the first place. Should the company utilize influencers that are more powerful, they will be able to grow their sales and market segments even more. Right now, they attract lower class and portions of the middle class segment, but with professional endorsement, they could grow to attract even upper class citizens, which is a market they have yet to conquer.

 

References

Pennellifaro. (20 Feb 2017). The 5 top trends for the cosmetic market 2017-2018. Retrieved from https://www.pennellifaro.com/en-ww/the-5-top-trends-for-the-cosmetic-market-2017-2018.aspx

Tode, C. (13 Mar 2017). How E.L.F. Cosmetics builds community and drives results with micro-influencers. Retrieved from http://www.marketingdive.com/news/elf-cosmetics-building-community-micro-influencers-social-media/437915/

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Corporate Social Responsibility: Target

target

[Image via coporate.target.com]

To demonstrate corporate social responsibility means corporations actively assess and “take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social well-being” (Investopedia, 2017). Corporate social responsibility is a practice that has taken business by storm. Many say that it has become imperative for companies to adopt ethical, socially aware, and environmentally aware business practices. Why? Simply put, consumer behavior has changed. The population of consumers is rapidly aging, and the newest majority group of consumers—the millennials—value companies whose ideals align with their own. These values are drastically different than the generations before them, and emphasize social awareness. While many companies adopt CSR practices for the sole purpose of gaining loyal followers of millennial customers, there are some brands that strive to embody corporate social responsibility as a joint effort to help their business and help the communities around it. Target is an example of such a corporation.

Target is a company that has long been associated with corporate social responsibility. The company has received a number of awards for their efforts in CSR, most recently including being named one of the World’s Most Admired Companies, an Energy Star Partner of the Year, and one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies (Target, 2017). Built off of an overwhelming sense of community, giving, and service, Target takes pride in creating a positive employee environment, impacting communities around them, and being a cultural and social leader worldwide.  Target demonstrates corporate social responsibility by cultivating wellness and education, emphasizing diversity and inclusivity, committing to environmentally sustainable operational practices, and being involved in community services.

There’s a long list of examples I could give as to why this company conducts business in a socially responsible way, but I will stick to just a few. This corporation realizes the importance of being healthy, especially in a world that suffers from obesity and various health issues that come from leading unhealthy lifestyles. Target emphasizes healthy living, from the organic foods and exercise merchandise they carry to their involvement in funding healthy lunches for impoverished areas and bicycling commuting programs. Also an advocate for education—something too often put on the back burner in local and national government expenditures—Target has donated a number of their earnings towards schools each year. Most recently, they raised $5 billion worth of supplies, food, field trips, books, and money for schools around the United States (Target, 2017). This fundraiser is not their only service to the community. They have a number of volunteer opportunities for associates to get involved in locally and nationally.

At the core of Target is its team. Target is very selective in the individuals that they hire—not because they are discriminative, but because they hire individuals with the ideals that their company has: a sense of community, inclusiveness, and service to others. Target has frequently been named one of the best places to work, and encourages diversity amongst its staff. Equality is also a topic of importance to Target. The company was notoriously known for having gender neutral, well, most things. From bathrooms to toy aisles, Target is not shy about supporting LGBT rights and trying to make everyone feel included, even when they received backlash for their decisions. They do not waver in their stances and apologize for having their own opinions, even if some customers frown upon it. When it comes to marketing, Target makes an effort to be inclusive as well. Target has run quite a few campaigns that targeted Hispanic culture and families, so they would feel comfortable shopping with the retailer as well. While this could be interpreted as a means of getting more business, one could argue it stands to say they welcome immigrants during a time when some may not feel so welcome.

It is evident that Target is ethical and strives to be aware of the issues that exist in modern society. In terms of operational CSR, Target aims to be a green retailer. In their words, the company is “committed to achieving milestones in our business by creating efficient buildings and spaces, using resources responsibly, eliminating waste and minimizing our carbon footprint” (Target, 2017). For example, they have adopted solar panels to power over half of all of their stores and conserved water by simply changing fixturing systems. Target sets percentage goals from each area they want to lower, like emissions from refrigerator systems, and at the end of each year, the company releases their carbon footprint data so the public can see they are actively achieving or working on their goals.

Some will question whether or not these steps Target has taken—especially to reduce their carbon footprint—are for the profit or because they genuinely support such initiatives. One thing that continues to stand out when it comes to Target is their transparency with everything they do. The company has its set of values and says it will upkeep to those standards, and more often than not, they do. Target is known for being socially conscious and acting in ways that support the environment, not because they want more customers, though this is certainly linked to the success of their business, but because they support something they believe in. That is the allure that is Target. The brand is very authentic and firm in their beliefs.

That’s not to say that Target has never had its share of bad media, or instances that could have been handled better. In November of 2013, Target faced a large scale hacking which resulted in more than 40 million customers’ sensitive data being stolen (Riley et al., 2014). Though the hacking was not Target’s fault, the negligence that occurred while dealing with the situation made consumers question Target’s ethics, which is a portion of corporate social responsibility. Consumers feel that it is up to a corporation to protect sensitive customer information, such as addresses, account numbers, and credit or debit card information. By having effective systems in place and responding appropriately to bad situations, a business is demonstrating responsibility in the safety of their customers and demonstrating their ethics. When suspicion of the hacking arose around Black Friday, Target’s security system was alerted; however, the security team ignored the warning (Riley et al., 2014). It was not until the U.S. Department of Justice notified the retailer about the breach in mid-December that the company investigated and uncovered their system had indeed been hacked. Many view this event as negligence on Target’s part—had they reported and looked into the threat, then the hacking probably could have been avoided. Consumers were also unhappy the amount of time it took Target to notify them of a possible breach of personal information. To them, it was not ethical because Target knew of the incident and the alert, but said and did nothing about it.

There can be lots of speculation over what did or did not happen, but what counts is what Target did afterwards. The company agreed to pay millions in compensatory damages, refund customers, offered them discounts to shop with, issued an apology, and they began requiring all card purchases to be chip authorized. They also took other preventative measures that amped up their security team and operations. Despite this hiccup, Target has still managed to be a top performing company and continue to prove that they demonstrate corporate social responsibility.

 

References

Investopedia (2017). Corporate Social Responsibility. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/corp-social-responsibility.asp

Riley, M., Elgin, B., Lawrence, D., and Matlack, C. (17 Mar 2014). Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-03-13/target-missed-warnings-in-epic-hack-of-credit-card-data

Target (2017). Corporate Responsibility. Retrieved from https://corporate.target.com/corporate-responsibility