Page 4: Creating a niche brand
A niche brand is one that specialises in meeting the needs of customers in a particular market position. A niche brand only succeeds if the company has in-depth knowledge of the target group so its needs can be served more precisely.
300 different products have been produced and since the Ruby & Millie brand was launched in sleek, simple, stylish and futuristic silver and Perspex packaging, customer and media interest has been intense.
Unlike No7 and 17 products, Ruby & Millie was launched in two Harvey Nichols stores before going into Boots The Chemists stores. Since then it has become available in larger Boots The Chemists stores and has been adapted in preparation for when Boots International Retail launches Ruby & Millie in Japan. It was important that the brand image was projected at the point of launch. The launch made a big impact and emphasised the mystique of the brand. At the same time, promotional materials built hype around the brand to provide it with the cult status required to support its position in the market.
Ruby and Millie have been continually projected in terms of their personality and credibility in the market. There have been some exciting activities within stores which have been supportive of make-up artists. For example, Ruby Hammer worked on Rachel Venning, a Boots Contract Manufacturing buyer, at the Ruby & Millie counter in Nottingham. A promotional programme has emphasised the attributes of the products and the focus has been on product performance.
The brand’s key competitors are MAC, Shu Uemura, Bobbie Brown, Nars and elements of other niche cosmetic brands such as Hard Candy. The key features of these brands are:
- in-store make-up artist consultants
- make-up artist support
- innovative products/presentation in-store
- good PR support
- breadth of offer
- unique components.
Though the Ruby & Millie brand succeeds in meeting the above criteria, it differentiates itself from its competitors as:
- it is a British make-up artist brand
- the ‘human’ element is projected and emphasised
- prices are matched to MAC which is more ‘accessible’ than any of the other brands
- there is greater availability in a less intimidating environment.
A key element in the positioning process for any brand is pricing. The pricing structure for Ruby & Millie has been broadly aligned to MAC. This means that it is well-priced and value for money in comparison with premium or highly-priced brands. For example, the range is priced at 15% below Clinique.