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CEW Panelists Assess Beauty Retail

From left to right, Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group; Marla Malcolm Beck, founder and CEO, Bluemercury, Inc.; Sharon Rothstein, senior vice president, marketing, Sephora USA; and Nancy Schmidt, vice president, divisional merchandise manager cosmetics – trend & prestige, Macy’s; discussed beauty’s top categories in today’s marketplace at CEW’s October Women in Beauty series event.

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: December 15, 2010

Cosmetic Executive Women’s (CEW) Women in Beauty series—held Oct. 14, 2010, at New York City’s Harmonie Club—enlisted the expertise of four panelists who discussed the challenges and strengths in today’s beauty marketplace in a presentation titled “The Retail Roundtable.” The event—introduced by CEW chairwoman Jill Scalamandre and Shape magazine beauty director Ellen Miller—featured panelists Marla Malcolm Beck, founder and CEO, Bluemercury, Inc.; Karen Grant, vice president and global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group; Sharon Rothstein, senior vice president, marketing, Sephora USA; and Nancy Schmidt, group vice president, divisional merchandise manager cosmetics—trend & prestige, Macy’s.

Moderator Jenny Fine of WWD opened the discussion with a query into the state of the beauty industry as it transitions from recession to recovery. Grant noted, “We lost more than a half billion dollars in 2009, but now we are expected to get back to pre-recession levels, so that’s a healthy sign.” She said that skin care, followed by makeup and then fragrance, were the categories showing the strongest recovery. “Total prestige brands are up 3% and are slated to reach 11%. Makeup is also strong, and fragrance has risen into the positive. The fine department stores have recovered the most, and overall department store sales are growing in skin care and makeup.”

Also emphasizing that consumers today are looking for the greatest and the newest offerings, Grant said of the recovery, “It’s not just in dollars, but in mood.” Rothstein cited innovation and newness as drivers of business. “Sephora.com is an integral part of our business and the largest store we have,” she said. “We now have more than one million reviews online, so when I talk about the research we are doing, I’m talking about ingredients as well as what consumers say to each other.”

Schmidt provided an overview by segment, saying, “Our business has been very good. The treatment business has been great, and Internet business is growing, although it is not yet where we want it to be. Our fragrance business has been terrific—with launches from Chanel and Gucci, for example—men’s grooming has come back dramatically and skin care also continues to grow. We’re getting good, solid generic growth. We feel really good about what is going on.”

Malcolm Beck noted that skin care was strong for Bluemercury, and shared her optimism about 2011. “Active technical skin care still rules, and the eye category is showing growth due to technology, as well,” she said. “Customers want [products] that really does something.” She noted that eye and lip pencils with better technology are also attracting consumers.