Saving Your Own Skin Cosmetics With Sun Protection: The Latest Wrinkle in Beauty Products

There is a tendency in our society to disassociate beauty and brains. However, cosmetic companies are working to change that perception. Now that they are incorporating sunscreens into everything from moisturizers to lipsticks, makeup has become an intelligent choice.

With sun exposure causing 80 per cent of visible aging (as opposed to chronological aging), cosmetics with sun protection makes perfect sense. As well, skin cancer – the most common form of cancer in Canada has more than doubled over the past 10 years, and continues to rise. Add to the bad news, the depleting ozone layer, which provides less protection against the sun’s rays, and there’s all the more reason to save your own skin.

Dr. Lynn From, head of dermatology at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, believes the move to protective beauty is a good idea. “It introduces sunscreen as a part of a woman’s daily routine.”

From suggests applying a moisturizer with sunscreen to the neck and the back of hands, forgotten areas that usually receive more sun damage than the face. She also recommends choosing cosmetics incorporating a broad- spectrum sunscreen (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays), with a sun- protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

However, locating an SPF rating on a cosmetic label is not always an easy task. Beauty products, unlike drug products, are not required to list ingredients or claim a sun-protection factor.

But that’s changing. By April 2011, Health and Welfare Canada will require testing of any product claiming to offer sun protection. According to spokesperson JoAnne Ford, “any sun protection claim will be considered a drug claim. The ultimate goal (of the new policy) is to give the consumer adequate information. At the moment, labels may seem misleading or confusing.”

This is certainly true. There are labels with and without government approval, claims of sun protection without SPF ratings, and SPF ratings on imported goods which may be misleading because European and North American SPF ratings use different standards. Until next April, when the new ruling and products’ revised labeling will take effect, Ford suggests choosing products that have already been reviewed. Check labels for a DIN (drug identification number) or GP (general product) number, signifying government approval.

If your preferred beauty product has not yet been approved, or provides less protection than you require, there is the option of using it in conjunction with a regular sunscreen. Apply a regular sunscreen first, under moisturizer and makeup. Sunscreens must be absorbed directly into the skin to ensure effectiveness. For this reason, From suggests applying all sunscreen products at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun. It used to be said that beauty is only skin deep. Now, not only are women and cosmetic companies believing it, they’re taking it seriously.

Love Is Blind: Product Planning With Your Eyes Open

You’re sitting at your desk, and suddenly it hits you; a breathtakingly beautiful idea for a new product, that “one and only” offering to catapult your company into instant success. You know it will work. You know everyone will want to buy it. Even your family loves the idea. You invest a good deal of time and a substantial amount of money developing and introducing this product you love, but a year passes and not one unit sells.

What at first seemed like an exciting, profitable new concept has become an extremely expensive, disappointing undertaking for your company. How could this have happened?

Quite simply, you were blinded by love and you fell for the wrong product. More than a mere business decision the product became a powerful new passion for you or your company’s product development team. The obsession for this new product was so strong that normally pragmatic business people ignored logic to pursue the glittering profits they felt it promised. It’s not an unusual problem. Actually, it happens to 80 percent of new products and it’s not exclusive to small businesses. Remember “new” Coke, McDonald’s McLean burger and the DeLorean?

What can your business do to avoid the “love at first sight” new product mistake? Here’s how to identify the proper, and profitable, product needed for your business expansion.

A Proper Product Planning Process

We have combined a number of existing new product development systems into the following practical process. We explain each step in the process below and follow each step with a critical assessment question. This system can help you design a new product offering for your company with less risk and more control.

In the process, make sure you create a cross-functional product development team that includes representatives from sales, engineering, operations, marketing, finance, executive, legal and other areas critical to new product success. Also, guard against any one member of the team dominating the discussions or decision-making process. All team members must honestly critique and support the project, or the new product’s chances of success are minimized.

Step 1: Search for a Concept

This is the fun part of product development! Generate concepts for new products from employee recommendations, an engineering or managerial “think tank,” customer suggestions and brainstorming by the product development team.

Critical Question: None. Just be as creative as possible within the parameters of your chosen market.

Step 2: Select the Best Concept

Examine all the ideas generated in Step 1 and reduce the number of new concepts to a manageable size. Rank each new product idea by a set of criteria customized to your company’s strategic objectives. Some examples of important criteria are:

o Production / Technology Capabilities. Competitive / Legal Environment

o Financing Issues

o Marketing Requirements

Critical Question: Is the product compatible with company resources and objectives?
If the answer is no, you must modify this idea or return to Step 1.

Step 3: Develop and Test the Product Idea

Turn the broad general product concepts into a specific product idea that will appeal to your target market. You must decide how this new product will benefit your customers. It is critical to obtain their direct input or reaction to the concept through market research such as surveys and focus groups.

Critical Question: Do your potential customers have positive reactions to your new product concept?
If not, you need to modify the product or return to Step 1. Be sure to objectively analyze your primary research to confirm your answer to this question.

Step 4: Look at the Business Potential

Perform a complete financial analysis of your new product’s potential. This analysis should be as detailed and realistic as possible. Product costs, profit margins, return on investment, cash flow issues and volume projections are financial considerations to closely examine.

Critical Question: Can we manufacture this product profitably with our company’s current resources?
If the answer here is no, you must abandon the product and start over. Do not attempt to juggle the numbers to reflect positive financial impact when the impact is really negative. Remember, love is blind – trust your numbers.

Step 5: Make the Product

After answering yes to all critical questions in the previous steps, now, and only now, you can begin the prototype construction. This phase of your product development requires a complete commitment of the budgeted resources and the entire company’s support in a variety of unexpected ways. This level of commitment could strain the nerves as well as the pocketbook, so be prepared.

Critical Question: Does the product work? Do we have the ability to manufacture and market this product profitably?
If no is the response to either question, you will need to prepare for added expenses as you hire outside assistance, modify the product or develop a more suitable offering.

Step 6: Test the Product

Roll up your sleeves and get going! Manufacture a small quantity of your new product and put it in a test market. Your company should use the same marketing, selling, pricing and distribution tactics it plans to use in larger markets. This is the time to check volume potential, marketing effectiveness and customer perceptions.

Critical Question: Do the test market results indicate satisfactory market potential and customer acceptance?
If you feel the results are unacceptable, abandon or redevelop the product.

Step 7: Commercialize the Product

If your answer to each of the critical questions has been a resounding YES, you are ready to roll your product into an introductory market. Go for it! Start selling!

Critical Question: Are sales results satisfactory?
A no answer here means that you may need to modify your commercialization program or abandon the project. If the product still appears to have potential, it may be time to refine marketing strategies. Objective external assistance may help you modify your marketing program.

Although the success rates for new products are low, using these steps may help your company increase the odds of success by identifying a new product with good profit potential before you invest significant company resources.

Critical question: How can you tell you are finally in love with the proper product? Count your profits, of course.

Choosing a Label Applicator for Your Product

Label applicators are machines that put labels on products as part of the manufacturing process. Applications include general production as well as food, drink, warehouse and pharmaceutical environments, to name a few. Label applicators come in fully automatic and semi automatic systems. Modern day machines are designed to deal with labelling curved, recessed or flat product surfaces to a high level of accuracy.

There are two main types of label applicator. The first is a ‘wipe on’ applicator – this works with a moving product (for example, on a conveyor belt or, where bottles are being labelled, with a machine that rotates the bottles). Wipe on applicators can be fast and efficient, applying labels to the top or sides of the product with line speeds of up to 80 M/Min. Of course, products of different shapes and sizes need their labels to be applied in different ways. Special applicator modules are available to suit many common applications and by mounting the label applicator above, to the side or upside-down underneath a conveyor, it is possible to achieve the best labelling position.

The other main type of label applicator is the pneumatic piston applicator. This kind will hold the label on a place via a vacuum. The machine works by having the piston moves forward and either blow or tamp the label on the product. The pneumatic piston applicators require the product to be momentarily stationary.

Label applicators have come a long way in recent years and there are many good designs that meet the demands for quick changeovers, providing ease of use and low maintenance. The systems are often controlled by integral electronics, which give optimum labelling tolerances, high speed and rapid acceleration. Many feature APSF (Automatic Product Speed Following), matching the dispensing speed perfectly in real-time to the variances that occur in product speed. Some models are available in left and right handed versions and some providers can engineer the systems to integrate with your existing line equipment.

The best systems are equipped with advanced functionality such as high-speed synchronised label dispensing, APSF (Automatic Product Speed Following), missing label compensation and web-break detection together with huge powered unwinds, to enable labelling to continue for longer. It is also possible to tandem-link two machines, enabling non-stop operation and zero downtime. The machines can have optional IP65 protection against water and dust and many come with a lengthy warranty. It is important to choose the right solution for your exact needs and as mentioned, for established operations, it will often be possible for a solution to be integrated with your existing equipment.

General Mills Tackles Social Media – How Social Media Helps Market Products

The term “social media” has caught the internet, news media and other networks by storm over the last few years. What exactly is it? Social media started out as a way for people to connect with their friends, family and other people on the Internet in one central place. Websites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter give people the opportunity to share information, photos, news and other things with the people that they know. After only a short period of time, businesses realized that they could use social media as well to market products, services, websites or other relevant information. These days, you can find just about any large company, small business, news outlet and other media companies using social media and social networking to market their company, products or services. One of these such companies is General Mills and how they use it really goes to show how effective it can be.

Recently, General Mills rolled out a line of cookie, brownie and cake mixes that are gluten free. Food products that are gluten free are said to be healthier because some people have food allergies or sensitivities to products that contain gluten. Gluten is composed with different grains and some people cannot tolerate them. Since General Mills had this product that they wanted to market to people who were looking for gluten free cookie, cake and brownie mixes, they needed a way to get the word out fast. In order to spread the work quickly and effectively, they turned to social media.

One of the ways that General Mills has marketed to people is by sending out samples of their gluten free products to popular bloggers on the Internet. In turn, the bloggers write reviews or make posts about the products on their websites and that generates sales for General Mills. Here are a few reasons why this method of marketing is smart and effective:

  • The Internet is present in just about every area of the world, which makes it easy to access. By marketing online, companies are reaching more people than ever before.
  • Using social networking websites can easily create a fan base and following, especially for companies like General Mills that have been in business for several years and already have well known products.
  • Having a Facebook, Myspace or Twitter page is completely free. Even if free samples are provided to bloggers, it is very cheap compared to expensive television, radio and billboard ads.
  • It reaches more markets than traditional advertising.

Gluten free products are more expensive than the products that contain the grain combination, but for people who cannot tolerate it, it is money that they seem willing to pay. Social media is a market niche that seems to continuously growing and it is not letting up.