Build a solid foundation in science, formulation and product development—find out more!
Most Popular in:
Methods & Processes
Formulators and Marketers: Working Better Together
By: Nancy Trent, Trent & Co.
Posted: November 26, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
page 2 of 6
“Communication gaps exist between product developers and marketers,” says David Wilemon, PhD, professor of innovation management and entrepreneurship for the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in New York. “The product development people have one view of the world, which can be quite different from how the marketing people see things. Keep in mind that each group has its own culture and values that shape communication. When these values clash, conflict is likely to develop. To have a high-performing organization, you need people who can deal with these differences whenever they develop,” Wilemon said.
A few years ago, I noticed a communication gap between formulators and marketers; it demonstrated the vital importance of the two functions working closely together. One of my clients was preparing to launch a line of skin and body care products. The line was effective but contained ingredients that were found in other, similar and more well-established brands. According to the client’s formulators, there was nothing special, new or different to distinguish my client’s products from others on the market. To them, it was just a nice “me-too” line that achieved good results. Fortunately, they provided an ingredients list.
The findings of a research study published in an obscure science publication provided a solution. Conclusive results showed that one particular ingredient found in certain plants and grapes actually extended the lifespan of a species of fish significantly. That ingredient, resveratrol, was in my client’s products and provided the basis for our separating his product line from the rest of the pack. Later, resveratrol, which was the focus of studies at Harvard University, became the subject of articles in newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek.2 In fact, resveratrol became the product additive du jour and many of my clients’ competitors were quick to point out that they, too, had the potential life extension ingredient in their formulas.
Marketers depend on formulations to provide them with unique selling characteristics that will differentiate products from the competition. In a crowded marketplace, being able to call attention to what makes the product remarkably different is vital for success.
The cosmetics industry is not alone when it comes to a communication gap between product formulators or developers and marketing. Donald Christiansen, a former editor and publisher of IEEE Spectrum, points out that the gap in communication between engineers and marketers in his industry appears to be based in part on different cultures. He notes that engineers see marketers as “middlemen who are not technically qualified to interpret customer needs” and marketers see engineers “as good analysts, but poor listeners.”3