Retail Innovation From Theory House Interns

As summer has come and gone, the Theory House interns, Brittany Dargis – Georgetown University and Karleigh Kennedy – Liberty University graduate, have reflected back on their experience working on an internal project modeled after typical agency business.

Brittany (Account Intern):

The summer project was framed as the ideal client scenario. The presented challenge was that our “client” wanted to enter the fragrance industry with a product marketed to Generation Z. We were able to create a strategically-driven brand from scratch, based on research.

We started by gathering all of the data and research we could. This involved both store walks and reading copious amounts of articles centered around Gen Z, fragrance, and beauty retailers. After compiling and analyzing the data, we began noticing a few trends. First, natural fragrances are becoming a large portion of the fragrance market. Many brands center their marketing around natural ingredients and sustainably sourcing their products. Also, since Gen Z is less likely to follow traditional demographic stereotypes, gender-neutral fragrances are also on the rise. Although not as visible in stores, many companies market their fragrances online as gender-neutral. Finally, customization is a trend that is evident throughout retail, especially in the fragrance department. Many customers want a personal scent, something that people will remember them and only them by. (For more on the intern’s fragrance audit, see their post: The Beauty of Retail.)

Armed with our knowledge from the audit, we entered concepting with four strategies that we brainstormed against: a time-based or limited-edition fragrance, a cause-based fragrance, an interactive fragrance, and a “wild card” option. After presenting multiple mood boards and copy samples to illustrate our concepts, our clients aligned on a product that would combine an interactive element by pairing scents with an inspirational aspect catering to Gen Z’s self-motivating nature.

We recommended that the brand would pair well with Target as a retail partner, citing their infrastructure, the retailer starting to offer in-store trials of their beauty products, and their recent integration of tablet technology. This was important, as our concept was to create a semi-customizable fragrance. Customers could go into stores and select a base fragrance that would pair with single complementary “notes” of fragrance of their choosing.

Our brand name, & You, reflects this concept. The name is multi-functional, emphasizing the customer as an individual and centers the brand around them. The ampersand or ‘and’ alludes to the pairing aspect of our brand. We wanted to create a tone that was graceful and timeless, yet also confident. The position statement for the fragrance became “for the person looking to create themselves, & You provides a personalized, inspirational experience through fragrances that offer opportunities to constantly reinvent yourself.”

Karleigh (Design Intern):

Having conducted the research, as well as creative rumbles, a brand workshop, and naming exercises, we confidently moved into the design phase. We created a simple logo design of the ampersand paired with the word ‘you’ in a clean serif font that pays off the idea of confidently reinventing yourself (per our positioning statement). The ampersand was customized so the extension of the tail beneath the baseline would curve to exceed the x height and connect with the arm of the Y in ‘you’. This visually communicates the idea that two things are combining, supporting the overarching concept of the base scent and the note scent pairing together to create a semi-custom fragrance.

To align with the trend of Gen Z gender neutrality, color palette became a key consideration for the brand. Our solve was to balance pastels (which traditionally leans feminine) and vibrant, bold colors (which lend a traditionally masculine tone). Individual colors also segment each note’s scent throughout the brand.

Moving on to packaging design, we wanted to highlight the interactive element we were encouraging through elegance and clarity. This led to the use of solid blocks of color and embossing the logo. The base scent is straightforward, a clear bottle with simply “you”. The colorless liquid and bottle punctuate that you are great the way you are. Each complementary note is then identified by its respective color and its liquid tinted to match. This champions the idea that you can better yourself (without changing who you are). On each package, the embossed logo is divided by two different colors, white and the note color, to highlight the concept of two scents combining to create something new. Also on each package is the note’s name, an inspiring word, as well as a motivational statement. The lid of the base scent has the ampersand icon engraved on it for elegance, while the opening on the other end of the cap, allows the consumer to attach the note scent to the base. When combined, the packaging displays a complete statement, such as “brave & you”.

The client also asked us to solve for a merchandising introduction at Target. We created an endcap to carry the brand experience with the consumer’s point of view in mind. The logo extends above the header at the same place it did on pack to attract attention, as does the use of color. Next, instructions are imperative for introducing the new brand and its unique versatility. A tablet is included with a questionnaire to encourage interactivity and testers also accommodate Gen Z’s preference for trial.

Finally, Theory House taught us to always think #RetailForward, so we provided the client with some additional ideas, such as releasing a new note each month to keep brand engagement fresh, engraving names into the ‘you’ base scent for enhanced personalization, gamifying the new note generation process through social media, as well as considering the launch of a pop-up shop for PR opportunities.

Interested in being an intern at Theory House? Email [email protected] for more information about our program.

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