1.) We don't ever use those cosmetic brushes you put in the palettes and blushes. No matter how great the product, these are always designed cheaply and as if we're putting makeup on a Barbie. I once read someone found a use for one as a keyboard brush. Otherwise, we literally never use them.
2.) Limited Edition is a nice psychological ploy to get consumers to think your products are special, rare, and soon to be extinct. The game has become so excessive that it's tiring the consumer. A makeup brand shouldn't throw out a Limited Edition collection more than a couple times a year, and the focus should be on truly creative products that are being market tested. To just see recycled shades or everyday shades is baffling and makes the brand seem out of good ideas.
3.) Relate to your consumer not as a beast you feed, but as the sounding board that feeds you. The smartest brands right now are communicating with the consumers as if chatting with a girlfriend: They're seeking feedback, listening to the good and the bad, and making changes as a result. Milani, for example, doesn't advertise - but they do frequent giveaways and have generated buzz the way a good makeup brand does: word of mouth. Your best advertisement is a satisfied customer. It is not a highly paid celebrity spokesperson or model.
4.) The marker of a successful cosmetic brand - in an ever tougher game - is one that keeps a groundwork of quality products but is always feeling the pulse of consumer tastes.Women's ideas about makeup are constantly changing; a brand needs to morph as much as it needs to stay the same. It's a hard line to walk, but it can be done. The crazes right now are high-definition, long-wearing, baked: These are all terms we never heard of 10 years ago, yet there is an increasing appetite for these products.
5.) Keep your prices in check: As drugstore brands up their game, the consumer has been tipped off that you don't need an expensive product to get a quality product. It truly didn't used to be this way. Then the line of demarcation between drugstore and department store became almost imperceptible. This won't eliminate high-end cosmetics, but it means they'll need to play harder to keep their prices justifiable. The high-end brands that will feel a bad economy the most are the ones who rest on their laurels.
6.) What high-end cosmetics are still getting that drugstore brands don't is foundation: Perhaps yellow undertones are harder to manufacture cheaply, but I'm amazed that their color selections and shade undertones are so limited still. Save two brands, Revlon and L'Oreal True Match, the remaining drugstore brands are still stuck somewhere in the mid-1990s.
7.) If there was a makeup version of fantasy football, here's who I'd want on my team: Milani and Inglot. I think these are two relatively unknowns that are about to explode in popularity. The reason boils down to product quality and price point. The brands have nailed it both ways. Something about the way Milani has conducted its public relations, its new launches, and its old standbys give every indication this brand just gets it. They get the consumer's mind and they respond to it.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the brands mentioned and didn't receive anything from them in exchange for endorsement.