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The Greatest Opportunity for Growth

By: Lisa Doyle
Posted: May 4, 2010, from the May 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

Donald Loftus, president and CEO of P&G Prestige Products, Inc.

  • Leaders need to lead by example, showing agility and innovative thinking to better serve consumers.
  • Successes rely on keeping the consumer’s actual wants, rather than perceptions of what the consumer should want, in mind.
  • Delivering growth and building classic brands consumers can trust for the long term is delivered through continuous category innovation with the expansion of newer brands that serve unmet consumer needs.

Gucci. Burberry. Dolce & Gabbana. The names alone of some of the world’s most iconic fashion houses enchant consumers across the globe, not only due to their luxury apparel and accessories, but also their fragrances—and perhaps even more so these days. While not everyone can afford to spend an entire paycheck on a trench coat, many people are willing and able to treat themselves to or gift a loved one with a high-end fragrance. “Fragrance is an affordable luxury that makes you feel fashionable, fabulous, sexy, uplifted, happy, positive and confident,” asserts Rochelle Bloom, president of The Fragrance Foundation. “The perfect accessory; the finishing touch.”

No one knows this more than Donald Loftus, president and CEO of P&G Prestige Products, Inc. Since 2003, he has helmed the luxe cosmetics and fragrance branch of the colossus, and overseen fragrance portfolios that continue to perform well, despite a persistent recession. “Our brands are built to grow even during tough economic times,” says Loftus.

Leading by Example

Indeed, Loftus is in a role of great responsibility, especially in a market seemingly facing a backlash toward luxury. However, adapting to a changing market while keeping in tune with core philosophy is key. “As leaders we need to lead by example, showing agility and innovative thinking to better serve our consumers and customers and deliver big dividends during these periods,” he explains. “We need to instill in our teams that during these times of change, we have our greatest opportunity for growth. We also want to influence change for the category by delighting shoppers by developing an in-store environment that helps them negotiate this complex category and have a delightful shopping experience. We’re identifying engaging ways to talk with consumers, to drive category penetration, and to continue to attract new consumers to this category.”

The P&G Prestige Products fragrance portfolio has held on to its consumer base and lured new consumers with its quintessential couture brands such as Valentino and Gucci, but appealing to Generation Y also serves the company well. In 2008, P&G Prestige Products became the licensee for singer Christina Aguilera’s new fragrance Inspire. The accompanying launch at Macy’s Herald Square in New York that September led to thousands upon thousands of fans meeting Aguilera—and purchasing the scent, resulting in the company’s largest launch event to date. “We are investing in capabilities to raise the bar for the fragrance category through meaningful innovations, great brand-building and an engaging in-store experience to bring consumers back to the shelf time after time,” says Loftus. “We have the right total category expertise and the right portfolio of brands to make this happen.”

In the Stores and On the Floors