Introduction Selecting perfume is a rather prejudiced process. Given that a brand and its image are highly respected internationally, the acquisition for its newly launched perfume depends upon an individual's preference of scent. Waiting for consumers to approach, test and smell, be satisfied and pay for it is neither desirable nor affordable. A marketer certainly has some more to do. The following paragraphs illustrate how a marketer of a luxury cosmetic, from defining his target customers to understanding their consumption decision-making patterns, develop and implement a rewarding marketing strategy. Assumption Assumptions are made on a luxury cosmetic brand and its new range of perfume targeting a new segment in Hong Kong market.
Estee Launder, having historically represented an impeccable quality taste and style, shares its expensive and elegant image with its consumers who are mature, feminine and attractive. A new range of perfume, namely, White Linen, and its extended product line of Body Cr " eme and Bath and Shower Gel is to be launched. The target customers are, unlike its usual ones, young and adaptive office ladies. As such, a separate advertising and marketing strategy is adopted.
Being a marketer promoting the captioned product range, it requires him to appreciate how people make their purchase and consumption decisions. A Consumer Decision Process (CDP) model (also known as EBM model) (Blackwell, Miniard & Engel, 2000) is employed to ensure the efforts of marketing strategy will not be wasted. Understanding the product The acquisition for perfume is based on selective need recognition as it is usually regarded as a non-necessity item comprising differentiated brands in the market. The Estee Launder's White Linen enjoys its strong brand equity as well as well established sales channels. It is considered as a high-involvement product because it gives benefits to those who are conscious about their self-images. Estee Launder has created this feminine scent, which possesses a blend of lily, rose, jasmine and Indian tuberose, epitomizes the woman who is calm, smart and charming.
The White Linen is recommended for office wear and its price is set on the high side, making it an integral part of the expensive Estee Lauder. Understanding the customers As suggested by Kilter and Armstrong, marketing nowadays stresses on consumer care (Kotler & Armstrong, 1999). To understand why and how women choose perfume is vital. Selecting a suitable perfume includes seeing, smelling as well as testing. A preferred choice is made according to an individual's personality, characteristics and her mood state. A successful perfume advertising campaign will attract woman's attention by the design of advertisement, its message delivered and the perception of the association.
The selection of perfume is intuitive, personal but prejudiced. Young, dynamic and adaptive office ladies, who perceive themselves as confident and assertive professionals, are the target customers for the White Linen range. Understanding Consumer Decision Making Process The marketer focuses on the seven stages of the EBM model to see how various factors can influence each stage of consumers? decision. 1 st stage: Need Recognition Marketers cannot create needs, but activate their consumers? awareness of their needs (Blackwell, Miniard & Engel, 2000). The marketer discovers that the popularity of some luxury items such as LV handbag, Burberry scarf, Ferragamo shoes are rapidly dominated as office ladies?" uniform? in the commercial areas.
These items, being affordable, relate them to a higher social status image, giving them the benefits of confidence as well as vainglory. By adopting the similar philosophy, the marketer, in order to activate the consumers? need recognition, create the White Linen product image as a synergy between energy and calm, independent and attractive, appealing to young office ladies who strike hard to earn a bright career future. The marketer subtly influences consumers how they perceive their actual state to experience greater need recognition for Estee Lauder's White Linen. This includes the selection of a convincing product spokesperson. In the Hong Kong market, Miss Flora Chan would be a perfect choice. A 29-year old celebrity, Miss Chan has successfully established a look-of-today professional image.
Her ingratiating roles playing as barrister, doctor and successful business woman in the TV series are mostly agreed by her audiences. The marketer emphasizes on the association of Miss Chan's the-look-of-today image with the White Linen so as to stimulate the consumers' desire for acquiring the product. 2 nd stage: Information Search The marketer understands that if the efforts made in the Need Recognition stage reciprocate, the potential consumers will begin search internally and externally. Estee Launder, renowned for its cosmetic products, is a top tier brand recognized internationally on its good quality and product images. The existing consumers will be assured of the White Linen's quality by retrieving their knowledge from their memory. For those consumers who are not knowledgeable on cosmetic brands may wish to proceed with external search on decision-relevant information.
The marketer understands that promotional efforts should be focused on areas most likely to be searched by target consumers. The prestigious brand name of Estee Lauder is not a question to ask. White Linen, however, being a personal and prejudiced choice of commodity, will not be acquired unless there is a trial on its scent. The marketer realizes that the potential customers tend to be curious to learn the White Linen's scent, a trial sample will be provided with its printed advertisement placing on some popular female magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Jessica and Marie Clarke.
This will provide the potential customers a chance to feel the fragnance. The marketer however notices that, price, especially on the high side, often serves as a barrier for further consideration - is also advertised, some potential customers tend to become passer-bys. However, if the seeing-smelling-testing selection experience can be exposed to the potential customers prior to the mentioning of its price, there is a greater chance of making the deal. From understanding what information the consumers tend to search, the marketer highlights the benefits that White Linen can provide i.
e. projecting a confident and better self-image. 3 rd stage: Pre-Purchase Evaluation The marketer alerts that the upper-end perfume market is dominated by a few major cosmetic players and some famous fashion brands which diversified into developing cosmetic and fragnance products under their own brands. It increases the competitiveness within the captioned market. Nevertheless, perfume wearing is subject to the mood state, occasion as well as seasons, it is not unusual that a female has her three to six different brands and different scent perfume in her bathroom. The marketer realizes that there are a number of alternatives available in the market, yet the consumers would find impossible to consider all of them.
Rather, liked alternatives may be considered and compared. Consumers extremely loyal to Estee Lauder will have this particular brand in their consideration. The less knowledgeable consumers can, however, be affected by the retail environment. By adopting the image advertising approach, printed advertisements should be carefully designed so as to stay in line with the product image.
4 th stage: Purchase White Linen remains in its well-established counters in some exclusively selected department stores such as Lane Crawford, Se ibu and Wing On. There is a consumer's tendency to match one's elf-image with that of the store. The marketer assumes its consumers will enjoy a peaceful, quiet and free atmosphere to purchase. The location of the above-mentioned department stores will provide them an opportunity to feel the store ambience. The marketer encourages the potential customers to proceed with their purchase decision by offering some enticing free gifts and samples packs. Different package sizes provide the benefit of easy selection.
Women (users) who buy perfume for themselves may wish to buy a larger bottle for daily wear purpose; men (buyer) buy perfumes for their beloved may wish to buy a small but romantic bottle with elegant and festive packing for gift giving on special occasions. The retail / counters offer EPS and generally acceptable credit cards to ease the payment methods. Having defined the targeted segment and having understood their lifestyles, the marketer expects that the Estee Lauder's sales personnel should possess good products and customer knowledge. Providing additional information and realistic expectation about perfume choice will add credits on their trust-worthiness. Chances can be made on teaching the consumers how much to apply and where to apply White Linen to feel the unintended and unique feminine scent. The marketer believes such efforts will enhance the product image and win loyalty.
Sales personnel sometimes meet consumers, who fall within the target consumer category, intend to buy other cosmetic product. By a polite asking and a friendly explaining, the sales personnel simply refresh the consumers' memory of the White Linen image. A reasonably adequate of sales assistance provided is considered appropriate. A fussy, over-enthusiastic salesperson may spoil the image of this high-end cosmetic product. 5 th stage: Consumption As suggested earlier, White Linen is recommended for office wear. The marketer knows that the frequency of wearing White Linen is high.
In considering the busy working lifestyle of the consumers, the marketer suggests that a package size of 15 ml Eau de Parfum Spray be included so that the consumers can place them in their handbags for convenient use. It is also understood that generally the consumers wear the perfume in the morning, before going to work. A second chance to wear the perfume may be midday for enhancing purpose. The marketer is aware that girls happen to be embarrassed by "double-wearing, same-occasion" situations. By adopting the leading perfume tester Mr.
Ernest Beaux's philosophy - "A woman must smell like a woman, and not like a rose? to educate the consumers that the same perfume applying to different individuals may result different and unique feminine scents. This will reinforce the consumers' beliefs in the product and its benefits during the consumption process. 6 th stage: Post-Consumption Evaluation The marketer believes that consumers will experience anxieties about their purchase decision if the price is high. The marketer reiterates the consumers' right choice by some follow up sales efforts like keeping them posted of the latest product range and giving away samples. A more gratifying effort is the retaining adamant of the price - no drastic price reduction should happen in the White Linen series.
The otherwise effect may include the consumers blacklisting Estee Lauder's products in future. 7 th stage: Divestment's The marketer appreciates that marketing process continues until the disposal stage. The disposal decisions may affect the purchase decisions because disposal also means acquisition for replacement. The marketer finds that it is interesting to note that some consumers tend not to finish the whole bottle but acquire a replacement, while some other consumers tend to collect perfume bottles. Considerations can be given to a special bottle design. An empty but elegant perfume bottle reminds the consumers of Estee Lauder's White Linen.
Conclusion In understanding the consumer behaviour as well as their purchase decision process, the marketer all the possible efforts to fulfil their consumption needs. The efforts are summarized as in the following: To activate the consumers' need recognition by making aware of the discrepancy exists between the actual state and the desired image; to implement right promotional efforts based on the areas consumers tend to search; to enhance retail / counter image for the less knowledgeable consumers; to train the sales personnel to represent the brand and the product image; to design the package and size in a way to suit the pattern and frequency of consumption; to eliminate the chance of cognitive dissonance by public relations; and to have an exquisite design of the perfume bottle will reminding repeat purchase. Bibliography Blackwell R. , Miniard P.
& Engel J. , Consumer Behaviour, 9 th ed. , Dryden Kotler P. & Armstrong G. 1999, Principles of Marketing, 8 th ed.
, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.