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Crisis, Necessity and Desire: Changing the Beauty Game

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: May 13, 2009

Nicky Kinnaird, Space NK; Pauline Brown, The Carlyle Group; John Demsey, The Estée Lauder Companies; Gina Drosos, P&G; Karen Young, The Young Group; Caroline Pieper-Vogt, Clarins; Jeanine Milillo, Peclers Paris; at the Fashion Group International’s recent Beauty Game Changers event.

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Finally, Pauline Brown, managing director of The Carlyle Group, addressed private equity’s interest in the beauty industry, which she described as “game-intensifying instead of game-changing.” Beauty remains a growth industry, which explains private equity’s continuing interest in the business. Brown broadly outlined the criteria for any investment, noting that brands must be relevant, differentiated, on the ascent and run by good management teams. And, she said, “the game isn’t over when you buy a company, but when you sell it,” which means the days of getting in and out of a deal in two or three years are over. Today it’s a long haul game.

The panel concluded with a nod toward social media, with Drosos observing that credentialing products is important, a function the online world offers. However, Demsey warned that brands’ messages are less easy to control today because “online isn’t evolving by the year, but by the day.” He called bloggers true game changers, but noted that there is always a risk when brand fans begin to generate their own content. Demsey noted that, online, garnering attention from smaller passionate crowds is sometimes better than trawling the general masses. In one recent experiment, he said, Estée Lauder’s makeup artists Twittered backstage during New York Fashion Week.

Coverage provided by Jeb Gleason-Allured, editor of Perfumer & Flavorist magazine.