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CEW Hosts Skin Care’s Power Players

Nancy Jeffries

Three skin care executives from beauty industry powerhouses Clarins, Clinique and Elizabeth Arden shared their insights on the fast-growing skin care category at Cosmetic Executive Women’s (CEW) Beauty Insider Series event held June 18, 2014, at New York’s Harmonie Club. Carlotta Jacobson, president of CEW, remarked on the uniqueness of the event, saying, “Where else would you be able to hear from the top three skin care leaders—and competitors—under one roof?”

Jacobson, who also announced the upcoming launch of CEW’s new social media site for members, said the site will be an interactive membership directory that will enable members to form communities within it and better communicate with one another. The social media hub will allow the CEW’s 6,000 members across the nation an opportunity to join discussion groups, gain career advice, and enable mentorships through the site.

Trends and Demographics

CEW chairperson Jill Scalamandre moderated the evening’s panel, which included Maria Dempsey, executive vice president of regional marketing, Americas, Clarins; Agnes Landau, senior vice president of global marketing, Clinique; and Kara Langan, vice president of global marketing, Elizabeth Arden.

Scalamandre began the discussion with a look at the paradox of the skin care market, noting its global acceleration and local decline, and Dempsey whose successful product launches include Clarins’ Vital Light Serum and the rebranding of Total Eye Concentrate, said, “It’s a dynamic industry. This is a little bump in the road for skin care. It’s a slight slowdown, no need for panic.”

Landau, who has been the guiding force behind Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector and Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle & UV Damage Corrector, also provided some perspective on the changes, saying, “Three to three and a half years ago the whole hyperpigmentation category was created. Now this is leveling off. That might explain some of the slowdown in the U.S. But, we look at opportunities too—for example, online is growing double digits, and we want to understand online growth.”

A look at shifting consumer habits prompted Langan’s reply. “Looking at different channels is important. Spas, dermatologists and plastic surgeons all have different dynamics, so we need to understand them better,” she noted.

Dempsey also addressed the BB cream category, saying it created excitement for the consumer and “shows us that customers want multi-benefit. It’s dynamic.” And Langan said it was a great way to introduce the younger market to skin care benefits. “This is a great market for us to concentrate on,” she said.

Landau also weighed in on this topic. “Industrywide, consumers are looking at benefits. The CC cream consumer wants to feel that she is not wearing anything,” she noted, explaining her mother-in-law felt the CC cream she used was so light it hardly qualified as a cosmetic, let alone a foundation. “The insight of simplicity is an important one. Consumers are telling us something about wanting to simplify their routines.”

Key trends discussed to get more traction back in skin care centered around both product integrity and tools. Dempsey said, “At-home beauty care is really important, like Clarisonic and other at-home tools. At Clarins, we believe that your hands are your best tools for applying makeup, massaging and more.”

And Landau referred to a new cleansing device that will be launched soon for Clinique, saying, “The cleansing category is the heart of this brand. It is its DNA for Clinique. A device is like a great car, like a Ferrari, but you need a great driver. So, designing this with a dermatology/device synergy is key for us at Clinique.” Langan expanded the topic, noting, “Customization is also something we’re starting to see more of—like 3D printers, customers want to be able to create something for themselves,” she said.

Landau also noted that the environment continues to be something to look at. “Global warming is here, allergy season is significant. How we design products to address this changing world is important,” she said.

Additionally, ethnicities and diversity continue to impact changing demographics. According to Dempsey, “The Hispanic population is reaching 30–40% in the coming years, the Asian population is growing, and baby boomers are all factors impacting product creation.” The Chinese population in particular is interested in products that address specific demands, including minimizing the look of roundness to the face, and is prompting looking at the area of structural cosmetics.

Landau also acknowledged increased travel and global exchanges, while Langan observed the demographic shifts that are taking place, noting that ethnicities are actually merging. “We may need to focus on aging as women will be aging differently as these changes take place,” she said.

Skin Care Routines

“Designing routines for skin care is key for Clinique,” Landau shared. After six years in development, Clinique has created a new serum that is said to “understand your skin’s past in order to determine its future.” The serum, Clinique Smart, will address specific skin signals that are transmitting signs of dullness, damage, skin tone or loss of elasticity. “It is formulated for one skin in the world—yours,” said Landau. “You will still need your moisturizer and hydration, as the product is positioned as a repair product,” she added.

Another topic that brought a range of responses was how to manage the complexity of today’s consumers. “We need to provide the tools at [the] counter to meet the needs of the consumer. Developing a deep beauty advisor-customer relationship is key to the core of the Clarins brand,” said Dempsey. And Langan shared, “Outside the U.S. there are many different approaches to selling a brand, so finding ways to reach a customer with a complex brand is a challenge.”

“Technology can also be important in bridging those gaps. Honestly, I’m not the same consumer every time I go to the counter,” Landau noted of her own experiences. “Sometimes I want something specific and sometimes I browse.” And Dempsey shared her take on technology, saying, “The innovations in digital have been big. We’ve partnered with a company that has a turn-to program allowing customers to provide genuine feedback to other customers, which has taken customer service to a new level.”

“I think consumers are looking for experiences not at the counter, like the beautiful CBGB John Varvatos store downtown [in New York]. The millennials want to know that your brand has a DNA,” said Landau, and Langan agreed, noting, “The experience is important. We’ve had the opportunity to bring the experience to the customer with the Elizabeth Arden Red Door store in Union Square. Customers can get a mani-pedi and also interact with the products. It brings the experience of the brand to life. Our color in the location also does really well, and the whole idea of being able to get multiple services on your lunch hour to provide a quick pick-me-up is key.”

Regarding consumer trends, Landau said, “The one thing I know is we’re a flat world. Skin care is exploding in Korea. There is lots of fast innovation and trends moving around the world, and technology has also had an impact. iPhones, iPads—it’s expected, and regardless of age, we’re seeing that around the world. As far as anti-aging products, particularly in Asia, I’m seeing customers at 25, and they want the products. This varies across the world.”

Dempsey commented,“ Women are feeling differently about age. Fifty years old now feels like thirty. But what scares me is that, with skin care innovation, products don’t happen overnight, despite the fact that consumers want results right away.”

Managing core products is key, and for Clarins, Dempsey noted, “It’s about how you manage innovation. We have to continue to improve our already great products. Talking to the consumers about Double Serum, for example, is important, and introducing our brand to new customers who don’t know us is key.” Landau said, “Our philosophy is that Clinique believes that we will always do what is best for the skin. The big challenge for our products—for example, Dramatically Different Lotion—is making sure we retained the texture and feel of the product.”

“Our iconic Eight Hour Cream is the only product in our line that was actually developed by Elizabeth Arden herself. This is my Windex. My go-to product,” said Langan. “It was developed more than 30 years ago. It is part of the magic of the brand. If we spent too much time making new stuff, it would detract from the magic of the brand.”

And Dempsey discussed the Clarins presence at Macy’s, in Flushing, Queens, where there is a significant Chinese and Asian population. “We brought products that are specific to Asia, [and] we had Mandarin speaking advisors at counter and at-counter literature in Mandarin. It has been hugely successful. We offer products that lift the jawline, refine the face—for example, with the new Shaping Facial Lift by Clarins. It has also been a great learning experience,” she shared.

In addition, Dempsey said the product assortment was critical and changing the cleansing protocols was also important, i.e, offering two cleansers, two makeup removers and two eye products.

Eye on the Consumer

Meeting the needs of a changing consumer base remained key for all of the panelists representing their brands. “It’s the relationship with the customer. For me, it’s training the beauty advisors so they are in line with the consumers,” said Dempsey. And Langan shared, “The opportunity to really communicate to women that Arden is running strong is very important. We have the original skin care brand, and we have amazing people to modernize it.”

Helping to conclude the event, Landau added, “Anticipating her needs and creating newness and being intuitive in understanding the consumer’s every need is very important. From a brand perspective, it’s a good season.”

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