Red Toes – Real Differences

Do you want OPI red?

That’s the question the pedicurist recently asked me as my feet were luxuriating in a warm whirlpool foot bath and I was comatose in her cushy leather massage chair.

I had answered, “red” to her question, “What color did I want my toes painted?” (Yes, women all over the world face this dilemma everyday! )

But when she said, “Will that be OPI Red, I took note. Ahh….That’s beautiful branding in action, I said to myself.

The American Dream

OPI founder George Schaeffer immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary with his family in 1956. After college, he began his career in the family garment manufacturing business in NYC. Recognizing the amazing opportunity of America’s free enterprise system and a call to “Go west, young man,” George moved his family to California in 1981.

In Los Angeles, George’s success in the beauty industry came with an unlikely start. He purchased a dental supply business called Odontorium Products Inc.  George soon realized that the acrylic “porcelains” used to make dentures were similar to, and in fact, better than the materials used by Nail Professionals for crafting acrylic nails.

Partnering with a chemist, George developed what he fondly dubbed his “rubber band special” (an acrylic system for nails—the bottles were held together with a rubber band.) Working out of a tiny two-room office, George peddled his “rubber band special” door-to-door to nail salons in Los Angeles.  Once they tried it, nail technicians clamored for more!

The OPI Difference

George saw the opportunity to make OPI stand out.  For example, he transformed names like “Pink #2” and “Bright Red #1” into “Coney Island Cotton Candy” and “I’m Not Really a Waitress.” Moreover, under George’s leadership OPI patented the Lacquer Bottle, Ergonomic Cap, and Pro-Wide©Brush designed for ultimate application.

As the company grew, George’s travel schedule grew with it! He annually travelled 100,000 miles meeting with Nail Professionals, listening to their needs, and then spearheading product development to answer those needs. The result? OPI has been granted more than 30 patents for its innovative product ideas, sales grew to $300 million annually and full-time employees grew to 450.

On November 30, 2010 was purchased by cosmetic giant Coty, Inc. in a private sale worth, industry sources say, somewhere between $900 million to a billion.

Loyalty Lesson: Earning customer loyalty requires giving your products and services distinct differences that customers find compelling and relevant.

You must constantly find ways to deliver true value in a way your customers understand and that clearly distinguish your offering from your buyer’s next best buying alternative.  That’s one of 5 critical ways to pass your customer’s Worth-It Test.

In your market space, among your customers and prospects, is your brand perceived as “simply Red” or “OPI Red?”  What compelling and relevant differences can you bring to your products and services to stand out?

It’s a question well worth pondering.

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