Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

This is one of the shortest-lived businesses to have ever existed! Learn more about it here. [Tuesday: Return Driven Strategy]

January 30, 2024

Miles Everson’s The Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Welcome to this week’s edition of “Return Driven Strategy (RDS)!”

As someone with over 30 years of experience in the business and consulting industry, I’ve found the RDS framework to be a game-changer in managing my team. That’s why every Tuesday, we publish articles about RDS to empower you as a business leader and manager in today’s ever-changing work landscape.

Today, let’s delve deeper into the 1st tenet of RDS: Ethically Maximizing Wealth.

Read on to discover the importance of transparency and taking accountability for any mishaps your business may experience.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Return Driven Strategy

Ethically maximizing wealth is Return Driven Strategy’s (RDS) 1st tenet. This highlights the importance of setting boundaries in regards to business ethics and meeting the needs of consumers through specific products or services.

One of the ways businesses do this is by getting themselves involved in particular trends.

However, is hopping on the bandwagon truly THE BEST way to go to ethically maximize wealth?

That’s possible, but that could also lead to a few hiccups along the way. Businesses need to take into account that product development doesn’t happen overnight—meaning, proper research and development need to take place for a projected product to truly dominate the market.

Now, you might be wondering: What happens when businesses fall short in their practices and fail to fulfill their promises about the benefits of their products?

It’s probable that there would be:

Community backlash…

… public criticisms…

… or maybe even…

… one of the shortest-lived businesses that ever existed.

Photo from Unsplash

In a fast paced world dominated by online gaming and influencer marketing, the launch of skincare line RFLCT was anticipated to be a monumental success. Sold exclusively at Ulta Beauty, an American chain of beauty stores, RFLCT aimed to address the skincare concerns of gamers exposed to blue light from screens.

The problem?

What seemed like a well-orchestrated venture quickly turned into one of the beauty industry’s fastest and most publicized failures.

Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, a leading female streamer on YouTube, unveiled RFLCT in October 2022. Backed by Ideavation Lab’s founders, Claudia Poccia and Joanna Coles, the brand developed a five-product skincare range, which included a cleanser, a lip balm, an eye serum, eye masks, and a moisturizer. With the insurmountable support from Internet fans, RFLCT seemed poised for success.

However, despite the initial excitement, RFLCT faced almost immediate backlash from skeptics challenging the scientific foundation of its blue-light protection claims. Beauty specialists and critics were quick to comment that there was no conclusive evidence proving that blue light causes harm to the skin, and insisted that the brand provide data gathered and used to release the products.

Unfortunately, RFLCT wasn’t able to provide such data…

Because of that, the brand was labeled a scam and accused of promoting pseudoscience. The controversy further escalated, with social media becoming a warzone for opposing views on blue light’s impact on the skin. Some fans of the business pleaded with RFLCT to share studies with the public to prove that the company was not a sham.

Despite asserting the inclusion of academic studies on RFLCT’s homepage, which didn’t really address the public’s queries and concerns, the company continued to receive backlash. In a statement to The Washington Post, Coles attributed some of the criticism to gender bias, suggesting that a male gamer launching RFLCT might not have faced the same level of criticism.

Efforts to save the brand were clear as Hoffstetter reportedly tried to end her contract with Ideavation Labs immediately amid the controversy.

… but not long after, RFLCT made the unprecedented decision to shut down, with products removed from its website and its social media accounts deleted. The brand, once exclusively available at Ulta Beauty, disappeared from the retailer’s shelves in less than two weeks after being launched.

Company ethics and Return Driven Strategy’s (RDS) Tenet 1

In their book “Driven,” Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo emphasize that ethics are defined by the individuals within a company, NOT the company itself.

Think about this: As a brand, RFLCT had the potential to make it BIG in the market, yet its lack of transparency and data failed to address questions raised by the public. When potential customers were expressing their concerns regarding the main product line, they were greeted with almost absolute silence, diversions, and overall general statements.

See? That’s why Professor Litman and Dr. Frigo believe that for a business to succeed, it must take accountability and back its own claims when addressing the public.

Gone are the days when customers allow themselves to be kept in the dark about products with promising results… and for a business to remain ethical, it must also address the concerns of consumers as soon as possible.

The swiftness of RFLCT’s rise and fall serves as a precautionary measure and reminder for brands venturing into uncharted territory. In an era where people demand transparency, the connection between influencers and consumers requires a delicate balance.

This case study also underscores the evolving landscape of online brand scrutiny. RFLCT’s example urges industry players to prioritize authenticity and substantiated claims in their endeavors.

We hope you learned new insights from today’s article!

If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy, we highly recommend checking out “Driven” by Professor Litman and Dr. Frigo.

Click here to get your copy and learn how this framework can help you in your business strategies and ultimately, in ethically maximizing wealth for your firm.

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy”

In the book, “Driven,” authors Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo said that the goal of every long-term successful business strategy should incorporate the combined necessity of “making the world a better place” and “getting wealthy.”

That is why they created Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy—frameworks that were built to help leaders and professionals plan and evaluate businesses so they can also help others achieve their organizational goals and career goals.

The frameworks describe the plans and actions that drive returns for anyone in an organization such as independent contractors, marketers, brand managers, communicators, and other people in any field. These actions lead to the creation of wealth and value for customers, employees, shareholders, and the society.

Every Tuesday, we’ll highlight case studies, business strategies, tips, and insights related to Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy.

In planning, building, or managing brands and businesses, these strategies, case studies, and guidelines will help you choose what specific actions to take and when to take them.

Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Return Driven Strategy!”


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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