Published in Sep-Oct 2020
If I dig into my memory bank, the oldest ad by Swiss Miss I can recall featured a Caucasian woman sporting the distinctive eighties retro fringe and enjoying the luxuries of life with Swiss Miss soap by her side. Almost two decades later, Swiss Miss has evolved into a brand synonymous with quality at steal prices for the modern woman on a budget. The brand has revamped its image through its communication which is now more contemporary and with an increased emphasis on digital.
“Swiss Miss has been a well-known brand since the seventies. Unfortunately, due to several internal issues and management gaps, the brand lost market share. Globe Cosmetics took over the marketing and distribution functions in 2002,” says Mahnoor Idrees Allawala, Director, Product Development, Swiss Miss. Before that, these functions were carried out by Consumer Products (the company which owns Swiss Miss) and according to Allawala, “a lot of effort has been put in for its revival.”
Swiss Miss offers a vanity of fragrances, mascaras, nail polishes as well as different formulations of foundations, lipsticks, and eyeliners. The products are available on the brand’s website and on online retail platforms, such as Cosmetics World, Daraz and Saloni, as well as in retail stores. The best selling products are their matte lipsticks and ‘Get.Set.Go.’ nail polishes so far and their new perfumes are said to be doing well. Consumers looking for steal deals without compromising on quality can get their hands on Get.Set.Go nail colours for Rs 85 and Swiss Miss matte lipsticks for Rs 160, and these price points make Swiss Miss ideal for women who don’t want to spend huge amounts on makeup.
Although the revamped brand is hoping to become a success story, Swiss Miss has had to tackle the issue of being perceived as an ‘aunty brand’. This is nothing new, as most legacy brands with at least 30+ years of history, anywhere in the world, can slip into the dated category. Old Spice struggled with the ‘grandpa smell’ tag until they revamped their marketing strategy. Taking a similar course of action, Swiss Miss gave their packaging and marketing a fresh look to rekindle their attraction to younger women. Who is this woman? She is independent, has money, an addiction for instant gratification and loves buying on a whim.
Swiss Miss have been active on Facebook since 2015 and have so far garnered the interest of almost 86,304 people online from different age brackets. Their recent communication reflects the modern woman’s joie de vivre and love for virtual validation. From swatches and reviews to motivational quotes, Swiss Miss’ new ‘feel-good’ digital strategy is in line with the content young working women like to consume on their day off.
“We are glad this message is getting across. Swiss Miss has been popular among older age brackets for a long time and through our communication, we are not only trying to reconnect with our existing customer base, we are trying to create a new customer base,” says Allawala.
She adds that the team is “working on creating an entire department dedicated to social media and digital platforms. Our new marketing campaign will kick off in 2021 with an additional focus on all digital platforms.”
With many bloggers raving about Swiss Miss Lipsticks and their value for money on YouTube and Instagram, it seems the new strategy has managed to carve a niche in a heavily cluttered market. The message is simple: top-quality products at the most affordable price and according to Allawala, they are affordable for everyone, across all socio-economic classes. “We aim to project the image of a modern brand – a brand fit for today.”
Swiss Miss’ digital activity and popularity with nano and mid-tier bloggers is helping them up their trust quotient. Influencer marketing is extremely important for makeup brands, especially those with limited distribution, because it helps shake off the apprehensions most consumers have when buying makeup online.
However, a large chunk of the consumer base in Pakistan, especially the older bracket, still feels uncomfortable shopping online. “I would rather go to the store and try it out before buying” is a common statement among most consumers. This is usually followed by “brands don’t show the real thing online” which further highlights the trust issues Pakistani consumers have with online stores. In this respect Allawala says “it is a challenge. We are always uploading different pictures to bridge this gap but there is a long way to go. We are always looking for new tech solutions. Customers still want that physical trial – or something close to that.”
The popularity of imported products and trust in the quality of foreign goods is also a challenge for local makeup brands. In the last decade, local personal care brands have had stiff competition from international brands deluging the market through legal and grey channels. “Cheap imports are our biggest competition. Other local brands exist but with them we have a level playing field.”
Furthermore, product inflows from grey channels at low prices lead to price wars. “Cheap and unregulated imports are a major problem as importers don’t pay their share of import duty and taxes. This allows them to offer huge margins to retailers and the ‘imported’ tag further helps sell their product at steep prices.” Allawala adds that there “is no brand loyalty or consistency in grey channel imports; therefore, quality and marketing expenses are nil. This is what creates a major disruption for local manufacturers.”
Local makeup brands also have to wrestle with international cosmetic giants for shelf space. “Our biggest challenge is increasing our presence in the market. With so much competition but limited shelf space, the challenge is to gain a presence on the shelf and then create enough presence to attract the customers.”
Despite these limitations, Swiss Miss has evolved from a vintage brand to a trendy, new-age makeup and fragrance line for women. The brand had a couple of new launches in the pipeline which they were supposed to roll out in 2018 but did not for various reasons. However, Swiss Miss is ready to launch a major product development programme in 2021.
Taniya Hasan is a content marketer.