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FIT’s Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing Programs Pay It Forward

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: June 24, 2014, from the July 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In how well the program prepares its students for the real world of the beauty industry, Frumkin says, “We have an industry advisory board that monitors our programs, advises on courses and content, and hires our students.” He also notes the significant hiring rate for the program, with many students gaining employment prior to graduation and the “certainty that 90% of students gain employment within six months of graduation.”

He shares that students become beauty industry brand managers, marketing managers, product developers, fragrance evaluators and development managers, as well as retail department managers, and many establish their career paths prior to graduating.

Graduates work for, among other companies, The Estée Lauder Company, Parfums Givenchy, Barneys, L’Oréal, Lancôme, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, Fresh, Inc., Avon, Unilever, MAC, Clarins USA and Coty.

Future Plans for the Baccalaureate

The programs continues to evolve and develop. “We have exciting things planned for the future,” says Frumkin. “We’ve been integrating cosmetics and fragrance in innovative ways, developing fragrances for apparel through textiles so fragrances can live for the lifetime of a fabric, and we’ve also been working on new colors for fragrances. We have 80,000 different colors in the lab, so students can create and enhance new chemical formulations for apparel and home products, concentrating on the infusion of fragrances into a wide range of products.”

And Frumkin says that FIT is seeking to grow the program and the number of students it serves.

The Graduate Program

The original cosmetics and fragrance marketing programs also paved the way for a master’s degree program in cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management, established in 2000. This program provides an advanced education for emerging executives in cosmetics, fragrances and beauty-related areas who have been recommended by their employers because of their strong management potential. It provides a curriculum based on experiential and investigative study.

Professor Stephan Kanlian, chairperson of FIT’s master’s degree program in cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management, says, “I think it’s quite unusual both for a graduate business program and an entire industry sector to work together to train top talent through a degree program. There really is not another graduate business program that is integrated with an entire business sector, that we know of, anywhere else in the world.”

Kanlian also notes, “The combination of analytical and creative skills is unique for a graduate business program, and when you layer that with a graduate program that is integrated with an entire industry sector, it is a very interesting model for graduate education. It’s quite rare to have executive students from an entire industry sector approaching high-level research topics that combine both the grounding of their already-extensive industry experience with what they’ve learned in an academic setting.”

Emphasizing global business is key. “The European study course focuses on grounding the students in the heritage of the industry, both in beauty and fashion and in understanding key retail innovation markets globally,” says Kanlian. The field studies in Asia focus on innovative approaches to reach emerging consumers in Asia and on understanding different local or regional approaches to marketing and corporate leadership.” Each study course is two weeks in length.

Kanlian also cites the research conducted by the students—particularly in their Capstone presentations, which mark the culmination of their graduate studies—saying, “Because the graduate program is a think tank for the beauty industry, the students’ final output is a high-level research study that contributes to moving industry thinking forward. Last year’s graduating class presented to 700 industry executives and media, as well as at major conferences in our industry and in other industries.” The Capstone presentations illuminate a particular area of concentration for the graduating class. “In 2013, we did a major study on the impact of digital on the business sector, and partnered with Google. The research was also presented at HBA, Cosmoprof North America, the Luxury Digital Interactive Conference in New York, at the SUNY Conference on Big Data and to the senior beauty merchants at Macy’s corporate. It has also been published as a case study in a new consumer psychology book by Dr. Kit Yarrow,” says Kanlian.

“I think the growth and development of both the baccalaureate and graduate programs and the rebuilding of the new fragrance laboratory just underscores the relationship FIT has to the beauty industry,” Kanlian says. “And I think it’s an incredible model for the future of education to have industry partnering with academia.”

Nancy Jeffries is a contributing editor for GCI magazine, covering the industry from her New York vantage. Jeffries has been in the publishing business for more than 20 years. Her introduction to the cosmetics and personal care industry began as editor of GCI magazine from 1997–2000.