When Tom Peters published his homonymous book in 2003, the point of exclamation was in refashioning the language for success in the twenty-first century. He combined the open, unrestrictive and endlessly personal invitation to imagine with the incredibly powerful “re” word.
As explained in depth by Frank Luntz at the end of one of the most useful and dynamic books on the modern use of words you could read, when we take the best elements or ideas from the past and apply them to the present –- and future –- we win an audience. And having an audience today means not only votes; it can mean the difference between profit and loss when we go from listening to buying.
Take beauty products. Not only the domain of vane women, today’s lotions, creams and fragrances need to break through an increasingly overcrowded marketplace. With promises that range from turning the clock back, our favorite, to making us irresistibly attractive, these products are looking for their fair share of mind –- and wallets.
Think of Olay Products and the “Age Defying Series”. With offers like “renewal creams and lotions”, and “revitalizing eye gels”, Olay makes good use of the “re” language. While the company provides no guarantees for the use of its products, the use of words such as “restore” and “rejuvenate” invites customers to a chance to reach back in time to recapture that youth we seem to hunger for. In 2006 Oil of Olay won the innovation race with the facial cream Regenerist.
If we go behind the scenes, the kind of R&D necessary to keep us young and firm is not trivial matter. Often, the very substances that can make a different exist in nature but can be quite unstable when we try to bottle them up. Shelf life, which is how long a product will maintain its effectiveness, is vital. How can you market and sell a product that will not work?
Did you know that it may take up to 5 years to bring to market an active ingredient that is good for the skin and remains stable in the jar? That is how long it took for DNAge by Nivea. A biologist specialized in nutrition science from the University of Florida worked with a chemist specialized in molecular pharmacology and a medical technology engineer. The result: folic acid, a highly unstable ingredient vital to the renewal of skin at the cellular level, is stabilized in the cream. That is the claim.
If imagination roots itself in magic, so do beauty products. A beauty cream that comes with the promise to erase wrinkles could only be named Abracadabaume. By Garancia and sold at Sephora stores, this is a gel that provides the "perfect illusion" instantaneously. That is their story.
This is the language of promise of the beauty industry.
If the delivery is only skin deep, it reaches beyond the surface to make us feel good inside. Better to think about reinventing ourselves and being open to the array of possibilities, than going to that place of no return that says you’re defeated. Never!
That is the spirit in which American values are rooted.
I come from Europe, where we take beauty products seriously. Spa treatments are much more affordable and it is easier to take a much deserved break more frequently in countries like Italy. Compare a full facial at the average whopping price of $85.00 here with a treatment considered expensive at 35 Euros over there and you can see what I’m talking about.
Renewal is a concept valid for your business as well. It’s almost spring time. What can you do to inject optimism into your product and service? Tom Peters called on all of us to re-imagine our enterprises and institutions. Can we see that beauty is not only skin deep?
Starting today, let’s:
- Choose words that empower us to imagine –- what if?
- Borrow from our expertise and experience to revitalize –- why not?
- Energize our thinking to invent new ways to do -– see that?
There is so much potential and beauty even in everyday interactions. There is much more value in the restoration of what exists. Innovation is more about looking at things differently than starting something brand new. This is a conversation worth starting. What say you?