NARS Cosmetics happens to be one of the leading international cosmetics brands. A French brand that seams to almost scream elegance. While also being a skincare company, it was founded by make-up artist and photographer Francois Nars in 1994. A relatively new brand and new enterprise, they have not let that stop them and their growth. Starting off with 12 lipsticks sold in Barneys New York, NARS has created various multi-use beauty products and now is a subsidiary of Shiseido-one of the oldest skincare companies in the world.
NARS Cosmetics has been in business for 23 years, and it has broken so many barriers in the makeup industry whilst keeping a very polished image and brand. Now having said that NARS Cosmetics has gained some praise for their formulas and their efforts in servicing women’s cosmetic needs and some criticism for their makeup concerning women of color and in particular young women of color. Women from the ages of 13 to 25, who may not necessarily have the funds to purchase many NARS cosmetics or the experience to fully be able to take advantage of all NARS makeup.
NARS Cosmetics caters primarily to older white women. Even though they consider women no younger then 13 and up to 40 years old apart of their target consumer audience. Upon research there is very little to no information on the exact demographics and psychographics of the brands (NARS) consumer audience. However, based on a study conducted by the Renfrew Foundation 65% of young women start wearing makeup between the ages of 8 and 13. Young women are the force that drives the beauty industry as a whole. So for a makeup brand it would make the most sense to make sure to service young women, and all young women at that.
Upon conducting my focus group, I realized with NARS as a brand there were specific things that young women of color have taken issue with. I made sure that I included young women of colour who had different types of experience with makeup. I included two professional makeup artists, one being an industry expert and someone who has worked on the set of different magazines photo-shoots and the other being a self –taught makeup artist. I included who have used NARS a few times and women who enjoyed the brand so much to where they would recommend it for use. They all agreed that for young women the price range is a stretch and it can stop some young women from even looking twice at the brand. Being that young women are the top consumers of makeup I think this is a grave disservice to the brand as a whole. Furthermore, every single girl felt as though their NARS foundations do not fit their skin-tones as well as other brands do. They appreciate the formula and the consistency, but every single female felt as though their foundation is either too red in undertone or too orange. The makeup artists stated that they usually have to mix the foundation with another product for a better color match for their clients of color. They feel as though the darker their skin-tone the more problematic the foundations become.
They also feel as though the blush, highlights and eyeshadows for the most part are not complementary for women of color, and being that these products are so expensive they feel as though NARS as a whole is doing a bad job at servicing young women of color. The customers in my focus group ranked Commitment and Trust the lowest, while Satisfaction and Exchange Relationships ranked the highest.
They explained that they often feel as though NARS is not a makeup brand targeted to them. One customer even said she thought NARS was for professional makeup artists. They feel as though NARS has not done a good job at establishing a relationship with young women and even less with young women of color.
My first recommendation for strategic communication would be to work on ways to strengthen your relationship with young women and in particular young women of color. Young women are extremely socially plugged. The reason M.A.C stands at a staggering 14.9 million Instagram followers vs. NARS’s 4.9 million is because they have a stronger social media following and presence. There is a wide audience that NARS is missing out on and odds are that audience includes young women of color. The strongest tactic for NARS after they return to the lab and invest in building a greater range of shades (undertones included) for women of color is to build a better social media presence on social media sites. Another tactic to involve or include young women would be to create a Jr. brand catered to young women, even make it limited edition so you can gage young women and get them to try the products and if they like they will definitely eventually purchase the more expensive brand. NARS has done a really great job at creating a very polished and exclusive-like brand, however the primary target audience is not satisfied, which serves as a negative for any cosmetics brand.