By 2016 the organic personal care sector is expected to reach over $11 billion in global sales, according to Organic Monitor and Mintel Research.  Why the vast growth?

Consumers Seek Healthier, Environmentally Friendly Options

The organic and natural personal care market continues to flourish as consumers seek out products that are deemed to be more natural and environmentally friendly – reflecting aspirations for better personal health and growing consumer awareness about the hazards of synthetic chemicals.  The cause for concern –  60-70% of the products we put on our skin are absorbed, and most contain chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and aluminum salts that are not only bad for us, but the environment.

Meeting Consumer Demand, Building Trust

After several years of challenges, including misuse of the term “organic” in brand names and product labels, things are taking off again thanks to new retail policies, formulation advancements, and product regulations.  Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand as we continue to see many startup companies and established category players moving into this sector – and skincare is leading the way with a 32% market share, followed by hair and color cosmetics.

So what should brand marketers consider when entering the organic personal care sector?

• Seal the deal.  Consumer trust is essential if you want your product to be part of the consideration set – over 50% of safety minded consumers want to see independent certification marks on organic products.  And, they’re not alone as retailers are taking a stance.  For example, Whole Foods Market implemented its organic personal care policy in September 2012, requiring brands making organic claims to obtain USDA Organic or NSF/ANSI 305 certifications. As a result, companies wanting to sell at Whole Foods had to either drop organic or become certified.





With this, brands have begun to take different approaches to certifying their products – it’s not a one-size, fits-all approach:

– Nourish Organic and classic Dr. Bronner are leading the way, providing body care that meets the same USDA Organic standard as food, using exclusively agricultural ingredients.

– And others, such as Pangea, aren’t choosing just one certification – they are certifying different products to the appropriate label, a growing trend we see in the industry.

• Clinically validated organics.  The science behind the brand has become more critical.  Looking beyond the seal, personal care manufacturers are creating higher-performance products that are backed by clinical research giving them the ability to make active claims –again, reinforcing consumer trust and market buy-in.  Juicy Beauty is one good example of a skincare and beauty brand that touts their clinically validated products.

• Packaging true to brand values.  As organic products continue to multiply and become more upscale, brands are using package graphics, structures and materials to differentiate from both conventional products and their organic/natural counterparts.  Ample consideration is being given to consumer preference for packaging that stays “true” to core organic values (as revealed in a recent EcoFocus Worldwide survey) – over 73% of natural and organic shoppers try to buy products in packaging that’s refillable or reusable, and 78% try to buy products in recyclable packaging.

• Alternative Distribution Channels. Up until recently, it would have been unheard of for a distributor like Vitamin World to have luxury personal care products such as Organic Doctor on their shelves.  But times have changed, and for the better.  Distributors are taking a broader approach to health and wellness and are stocking their shelves to support their customers overall lifestyle needs.

Lessons Learned

Organic/natural leaning consumers have become evermore sophisticated, and understanding their need for brands that demonstrate transparency and integrity is key. They are looking for straightforward, honest answers from their brands, and can easily see through a brand fabricating a story vs. telling a true brand story.  Following these basic, but important principles will help your brand get the attention and following it deserves…and possibly the shelf space too!

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Who would have thought that our healthcare branding work would make it to prime time? Not featuring our advertising, but for our branding work for Orlando Health.

We had the good fortune to partner with the organization on its system-wide rebranding a few years ago. So who would have thought that settling in to watch Parks & Recreation this past week, we’d see our logo – adapted for the fictitious Montesian Memorial Hospital.

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I’m hoping that one of the director’s from the show can give me the name of one of the senior executives from Montesian, as they really need a new logo

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Do your prospective customers deserve better marketing? Only you know the real answer.

Step back for a moment. If you were on the receiving end of your healthcare marketing –– would it matter to you? More specifically, would it teach you more? help you do more? help you distinguish, believe and trust more? inspire you to act?

Consider all the “must-do’s” that find their way into your organization’s marketing and creative process. Do they really reflect what people want and what your brand can genuinely do for them? Are they the things that lead you to making ideas that people pay attention to, are motivated by and inspired to act on – that build value for them and your organization.

Here are ten ideas that are guaranteed to get more people wrapped more tightly around your healthcare brand:

1. leverage a killer consumer insight (like Dove)
2. do more, talk less (like AmEx OPEN forum)
3. be more involving and engaging (like BUD Light)
4. be more useful (like Nike+)
5. be more interesting and exciting (like AXE)
6. deliver a better, branded, experience (like Zappos)
7. create ongoing surprise and delight (like Sharpie)
8. encourage conversation and sharing (like AXE)
9. let them see behind the curtain (like Zappos)
10. be more purpose-driven, and find ways for everyone to participate (like Tom’s Shoes)

The key to winning is creating marketing that matters. Unearthing what people need to feel better, look better and play better and then giving it to them. Are you?

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Living in the digital age, your customers and prospects are subjected to an endless sea of information each and every second of every day.  Cutting through all of this noise can be a tough challenge for any brand marketer. One effective solution is the use of infographics.

Just about everywhere we look these days we see Infographics.  They are commonly used to translate complicated statistics or information into something that is simple, easy and desirable to visually digest.  Beyond the relevancy of your content, the success of an infographic is based on how well the information is represented and how visually stimulating it is.

Here are some tips for ensuring your infographic is successful and stands apart from the crowd:

  • Simplicity – If your infographic is too complicated you chance losing the attention of the viewer (who is also your prospect).  Try not to get too tempted by all the fancy design bells and whistles when creating your infographic, keep it to the facts and information.
  • Branding – Create a visual identity for your infographic that aligns with your brand so that it can quickly and effectively be distinguished from others and supports all of your other brand-building efforts.
  • Good Design – Don’t let free or inexpensive internet tools tempt you into creating your own infographics. There are core design principles that should be followed.  If you are not a designer, seek the help of one, there are no short cuts to good design.
  • Animation – An animated infographic opens more options; not only will your factual information be conveyed, but the medium also allows for a visual story to be told.  In turn, this helps keep the interest of your viewers which ensures your message will be received.
  • Spread the word – Now that you have your awesome infographic, it’s time to get it in front of as many eyes as you can through blogs, news sites, other third-party sites and social media channels.  All the links back to you and the posts you create to promote it, will boost your visibility and your SEO.

With both brand marketers and consumers having to deal with information overload, infographics remain an effective way to garner attention in a quick and compelling manner. In fact, you probably did not get this far through this blog post… I should have created an infographic about infographics instead!


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Back in the 1800’s, Charles Darwin said “In the long history of humankind…those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”

Fast forward a couple hundred years, and one major way marketing, and advertising in particular, have been forever changed in the new digital and social world is the immediacy in which we can get our messages out to the world. This has opened up a whole world of possibilities for relevant, real-time creative content. Not only for those producing it, but for those who are consuming, sharing and participating in it.

Here are just a few great examples of brands that have taken advantage of the immediate nature of social media in order to make more of an impact with their advertising.

Old Spice Guy Responds to Your Posts Live

Back in 2010 Old Spice began a campaign that featured their shirtless, debonaire spokesman responding to facebook posts and tweets live on video. The result fit the tone of the original campaign perfectly and their social media following skyrocketed. The chance to have your tweet or post incorporated into Old Spices hilarious commercials just minutes after you posted it was just too good for fans to pass up.

Real-time Marketing and the Super Bowl Blackout

It’s football season. My time of the year. What do people do when the most watched television event of the year is delayed due to a blackout? They take to social media to discuss it of course. Many brands used this as an opportunity to create viral ads surrounding the big game mishap. The most popular of these came from Oreo which tweeted an ad that read “you can still dunk in the dark”. Tide, budweiser and PBS all got in on the act as well. You can view a collection here of some of the most clever tweets from brands following the blackout.


Denny’s Planned Spontaneity

Denny’s tweeted an ad mocking the new Gold iPhone 5s moments after it was officially announced to the world. Clearly they had time to plan the ad, as rumors had been swirling around for several weeks regarding the new gold iPhone. But the fact that there was no certainty to the truth in these rumors meant a traditional print ad would not be feasible. Instead, Denny’s was able to create the ad and keep it in their hip pocket. If the Gold iPhone was announced, they’d quickly post it through their channels for an instant viral success. If it was not announced, all they’d lose was the time to hammer out the idea (which is really never a waste of time).

Capitalizing on Historic Events

Pre-planned ads were also created to coincide with the birth of the royal baby in July. Like the Denny’s tweet, these ads were planned, but needed to be held onto right up until the birth was announced. The social media obsession over the royal baby seemed like a great opportunity for brands to grab some of their own attention. Fans, however, had mixed reactions to those brands trying to selfishly capitalize on this historic event. Some brands did manage to strike the right tone, while other came off as overly self-promotional.


I think Charles Darwin had a good bit of foresight.

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My career spans advertising account management, client-side marketing, global brand consulting and for the past 13 years, owner of branding and marketing firm Trajectory. The common denominator has been a focus on brands – creating, managing, growing and nurturing them.

So this cartoon from Tom Fishburne – Where Complacent Brands Go – really hits home. First, because we pour all of our energy each and every day into helping clients shape and guide the trajectory of their brands. Second, because we’re not quite sure if this reciprocal “brand” passion and commitment (sometimes perceived as distinct, or as a discretionary add-on, from growing business) always resides in the hearts of brand marketers and their leadership teams.

As per the cartoon, the complacent brands graveyard is filled with tombstones that read:

– Analysis Paralysis
– Followed the Same Strategy Year After Year
– Didn’t Take Challengers Seriously
– Dismissed Anything New As A Fad
– Stuck In The Status Quo

Now for those gravestones off in the distance whose messages you can’t make out, here’s what they actually say:

– Thought Brand Was A Luxury
– Didn’t See It Coming
– Could’t Afford To Invest (R.I.P.)
– Didn’t Think We Needed To (And Didn’t) Invest
– Thought We Could Do It Ourselves
– Assumed That Will Never Work
– Maybe In The Next Budget Cycle
– But It’s Never Been Done Before
– We Know What Our Customers Want

But life doesn’t have to end this way. You steer the fate of your brands. Let these unfortunate outcomes be your guide. Let them inspire you to take the other path that can lead to brand (customer and business) prosperity.

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Setting: A Dinner Party

At a recent dinner party (gluten-free fare I may add), a group of us were discussing the highly popular topic of how we are all trying to live healthier and more active lives – especially when compared to the (silent) generation that came before us. As a highly charged and active “beginner” boomer myself, I reflected on how I constantly remind myself that my physical and emotional health are inextricably linked to my quality of life, and ultimate longevity.

Advancing Total Health and Wellbeing

I, like others I know, proactively participate in preventive care and wellness activities to ensure I stay on course in managing my health. Because better health means better life (at least to me). And maybe this important lesson has been influenced by my years of brand marketing work for various health and wellness clients who are now increasingly focused on advancing total health and wellbeing (doesn’t hurt that health care reform is rewarding quality outcomes for this new model of care).

But I also know that better health (which enables active living) is only part of the equation for happiness (mine at least). In both my professional and personal life, how I look is also inextricably linked to how I feel (both inside and out). It can’t be overlooked that the ever-growing and ever fascinating world of anti-aging products and health services is geared to people just like me – those who want to feel empowered to take charge to ensure that what you see on the outside matches how you feel on the inside.

This idea is reinforced every day, at every turn (online, in beauty publications, on TV, at retail) as we see the endless barrage of consumer products and health-related solutions that promise to turn back the hands of time, or at least make them stand still. And many of them do, having branded and marketed several over the years, from the most advanced anti-aging skincare Remergent and Glissandra and beauty devices like the PaloVia Skin Renewing Laser to the latest anti-aging hair care products, organic supplements (we’re launching a new line in 2014), and dietary trends (organic and gluten-free are just two of them).

Back To The Dinner Party

Now that brings me back to the original dinner party conversation that triggered the discussion of living a healthier and more active life. While sipping my cocktail (also gluten-free), an acquaintance asked me what our agency did. After explaining that Trajectory charts the course and creates the momentum, that vital energy, a brand needs to connect with its consumers (strategically and creatively) for businesses in three (discreet yet interconnected) sectors – health and wellness, personal care and beauty, and leisure and lifestyle – the next logical question was why those industries.

After underscoring our collective team’s experience and passion for these spaces (we do live what we market) – to me, the ‘sweet spot’ between these categories seemed obvious. But it was not, and the conversation then centered on the premise that the consumer for these different offerings (whether health carepersonal careleisure) is generally interested in some level of self-improvement, enhancement and/or fulfillment.

Feeling Better + Looking Better = Playing Better

There is common ground that we can learn from and appeal to. Feeling better (great health is key to so much in life), and looking better (feeling in control and the best possible you), allows us all to enjoy life and the things we covet doing (whether travel is your passion or golf or running – or all three for me!). These three principles aren’t mutually exclusive yet they aren’t necessarily required for every client we work with. It is simply a different way of looking through the lens to understand what impacts our quality of life (and mine as a boomer consumer) and how we (as an agency) can make a difference in the lives of our client’s brands, and their customers. In the end, it’s all about being a healthier and happier you!

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Wellness – defined by the World Health Organization as “an optimal state of health,” concerning an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of being.  For reasons unsurprising (e.g. the obesity epidemic, outrageous healthcare costs, the 50+ segment which is the largest demographic in the U.S.), wellness living has made its way into the corporate and cultural mainstream. 

The healthcare industry is transitioning from a “fix-it” to a “prevent-it” model (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that chronic diseases, most of which are preventable, account for 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent on healthcare).  Both Mayo Clinic and closer to home Morristown Medical Center of Atlantic Health System are just two of the many healthcare organizations offering wellness solution programs for corporations aimed at enhancing overall wellbeing of employees (and therefore leading to greater productivity and lower healthcare expenditures).

We’re seeing industries blending together to offer cross-discipline services.  Fitness centers now offer spa/salon services (in addition to nutritional counseling and recreational programs), grocery stores are opening spas, spas position themselves as places to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul versus a place to simply get pampered – even giving birth to “wellness tourism.”

Opportunities for Brands and Marketers

Positioning. Brands that position themselves as wellness-focused (with multiple benefits) will be able to capture a larger audience – both the already healthy, looking to live optimally, as well as the chronically ill.  As an example, Aetna has begun to position themselves as a “health solutions and technology company, rather than just an insurer.”  As part of its strategy, Aetna has developed and implemented CarePass, a wellness application for consumers, available to both members and non-members for free, and has spent the last several years acquiring IT-related companies.

Marketing Communications & Actions. Crafting a life of wellness is fun and exciting. This vibrant energy needs to be reflected (so consumers can see themselves) in all cross-channel communications. Marketers can also (and more importantly) help educate consumers about wellness living and create tools/applications to aid them through their journey to optimal living. I’m a personal fan of Kashi, and appreciate the education they deliver through their Natural Living Library and Recipes We Love.

According to a HealthLeaders article based on a survey conducted by Virgin HealthMiles, “employees love wellness programs.  Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.  And incentives play a big role in employee motivation—61% of employees credit the incentive as the key reason for participating.”

Partnerships. Having one singularly focused offering is not enough. Consumers want the whole package. They want to receive care for their mind, body, and spirit in ONE place. Companies that excel in one particular industry should consider creating mutually beneficial and value-creating relationships. For example, NATIRAR, known for it exceptional dining experience is teaming up with Miraval Spa so that the brand may aspire to its vision of providing nourishment for the mind, body, and soul to its customers.

A Change In Philosophy

Several years ago when I had worked for an integrative health practitioner (aka. a nutritionist), I was introduced to the idea of “wellness”.  At the time, I didn’t consider myself unhealthy, but I wasn’t living optimally.  So, I gave “wellness” living a try, reluctantly at first, but eventually embracing it whole-heartedly.  I began reading food labels, went from eating fast food/takeout to cooking almost every meal with organic/natural products, and sleeping earlier, made healthier lifestyle decisions that I knew would contribute to my overall happiness and wellbeing.

My philosophy for living has changed and with it, my purchasing decisions and behaviors.  I am not a singular phenomenon.  This shift towards wellness is not a trend, it’s a change in philosophy and it’s here to stay.




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We’re recently back from a fantastic 8-day trip to Amsterdam. If you haven’t been, put this city on your list.

Our hotel was equally fantastic. But it was our journey to selecting the hotel that weighed into this and helped cement the deal. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson (though no one is sure if he was the originator) — it’s the journey, not the destination.

Our journey was an example of leisure marketing at it’s best. A brand team recognizing that the trip begins as soon as the initial decision is made to get away. This particular hotel, above all others we researched, provided exactly what we needed and wanted. Leading with our interests, as if we had already talked to them about what mattered most to us as visitors to their city (which, as you’ll read below, they’ve been doing for years).

Here are five guest-focused benefits that distinguished this hotel from others:

Combination Of Owned and Earned Media

We saw their advertising. It was beautiful, aspirational, and really did capture the specialness of the hotel (but we only knew this after the fact). What made the difference was the strength of their owned and earned media presence. Their website in particular was exceptional in terms of its value-add experience. And their earned media (particularly the conversation via Trip Advisor and Yelp), provided an important third-party, believable source point for decision-making.

Mobile Responsive Design

Wherever I was, I was able to do my research, as the hotel’s mobile responsive website automatically changed to fit the device I was viewing it on (in my case, on my iPad and iPhone, and periodically at Starbuck’s drinking my Mocha Light [satisfying but low fat] Frappuccino).

Ongoing Prospective & Current Guest Conversations

This hotel is in constant dialogue with its prospective and current guests. Through the website, at the hotel, through formal surveys, its concierges and staff. They are dedicated to delivering the best possible experience, which only comes about through deep understanding of what audiences need and want.

Promises Made, Promises Kept

The website advises that if you want to have a conversation beyond the online chat, a concierge will gladly get back to you within 24 hours. Which he did. Good thing, since there’s this prominent quote on the website from the General Manager – “Being successful means staying on top of things.”

Let The Trip Begin

Once we booked with the hotel, we received regular updates about what was going on in and around the city. Nice way to keep us engaged, surprised and delighted – before even beginning our (physical) trip. Which actually began, however, as soon as we made the decision to get away.

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Resort Image

Here’s an important piece of news for leisure marketers – over 55% of consumers (WNBC Survey) say they will take several shorter weekend getaways instead of the traditional vacation retreat.

So what happened to that opulent weeklong getaway, several times a year, far away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Given the lasting effects of the economic downturn along with changing lifestyle needs, consumers have become more attracted to drive-to resort getaways which offer long weekend experiences. Whether it be the family with small children who need a “kid-friendly” place with adult amenities, or the boomers who are now indulging themselves in more practical ways.

So how is the lifestyle and resort industry turning this trend into opportunities for growth and expansion, and what brand marketing strategies should be considered?

Mixed-use Resorts – Appealing to the Masses
Mixed-use resort destinations are growing in popularity – with hotels, recreation, entertainment, sporting activities, golf courses, spas, convention centers, and large-scale attractions combining. Many developers are implementing a four-season strategy to capture year round revenues – designing resorts with flexible indoor/outdoor recreational spaces that appeal to all ages, all year-long. And, by offering broad appeal amenities these resorts have significantly influenced the concept of “togethering” – multi-generational family getaways that had seemed to dissipate over the years.

Some exceptional resorts adopting this four-season strategy include,Crystal Springs – a world-class destination nestled in the rolling farmlands of NJ, offering everything from outdoor adventure experiences, to top-rated golf courses and luxurious dining and spa experiences. And, Woodloch, a lakeside Pocono Mountain (Pennsylvania) resort that prides itself on the traditional warm hospitality it has nurtured for over fifty years; providing a retreat for families with endless activities and entertainment, thoroughly embracing the spirit of spending quality time together.

The Conundrum and the Solution
The mixed-use resort has created both a marketing challenge and an opportunity for the hospitality industry. How to implement a cost-effective, results oriented marketing strategy that appeals to every demographic and every interest? Knowing that a one-size-fits all marketing approach is not going to be of interest to all consumers, all the time, and can also be cost prohibitive.

By leveraging a strategy that augments traditional (paid) advertising channels with (owned and earned) content, digital and social, hospitality marketers can better connect with and engage audiences. And, with more than 76% of travel planned online, establishing a strong and steady presence is critical. Consider:

• Content – not an option, a requirement. The advantages of content marketing are numerous (and measurable) – with brands now acting as “publishers” to engage in meaningful ways with their audiences. Implementing tools to “pull” customers to brands – i.e. blogs, social media, newsletters, webinars, eBooks, photo-sharing, and videos, are no longer considerations, but requirements to stay competitive and top of mind.

• Social Media and Mobile – increase need for responsive and/or mobile websites. Social media and mobile will continue to merge. Mobile has allowed social media to truly become real time, enabling consumers to create updates from their phone, while tagging friends or checking in – what a great opportunity for resort guests to share their experiences. And, with Smartphones representing more than 50% of new mobile devices being purchased, providing multi-platform access will be essential. If you don’t have the budget to invest in a responsive site, consider a mobile (.m) version.

• Photo-Sharing – will begin to dominate. Establishing a strong presence on photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram provide powerful ways for hospitality brands to visually communicate their lifestyle messages. And, with Pinterests’ ongoing enhancements to the platform, hospitality marketers are presented with unique opportunities to curate, collect and highlight the very best.

• Marketing Videos – unrehearsed videos on the rise. Video is one of the most effective ways to engage web visitors. On a daily basis, more than 89 million people in the U.S. (ComScore) are viewing and sharing video online, including streaming video on mobile devices. Presenting videos in different ways (e.g. demos, reviews, special events and activities), will continue to influence decision-making, and including user-generated videos has added appeal since they are actual consumer experiences.

• Online Digital – establishing a strong, ongoing online presence. Over 90 million adults conduct travel searches online, so hospitality marketers need to be where these prospects are living. There’s no denying the marketing value of mixing owned, paid, and earned media, whether it be SEM, contextually relevant display advertising, or Facebook advertising.

The common thread for hospitality and leisure marketers is a plan that maximizes reach and relevance, in real-time, while minimizing cost. The key is implementing a plan that continually provides insight and utilizes that knowledge to refine and optimize on the go. With over half of all travelers seeking shorter weekend getaways, they’re primed for your invitation!

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