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CEW Panelists Assess Beauty Retail

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: December 15, 2010
CEW’s Women in Beauty series

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.

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“We see a lot of growth in serums,” offered Rothstein. “Innovation is really driving skin care.” Schmidt concurred, adding, “Customers are more savvy today. They want products that work, and they are not afraid of technology.”

She further noted there has been a revival in the lip category, citing Chanel’s Rouge Coco as an example. “Lipstick is really coming back,” she said, adding that samples of Rouge Coco sent to beauty advisors helped to create excitement for that product particular product launch.

“Customers are flocking to new lip stains, and lashes are also on fire for us,” said Rothstein, noting that products providing volume and shape, including entries from Dior and Givenchy, are providing great options for consumers.

Color palettes also generated enthusiasm, with a yin and yang approach, and some offering “pops” of color as well as neutrals. “[Sephora] customers want classics plus specialty and trends,” said Rothstein, who acknowledged that the marriage between beauty and pop culture has been a success for Sephora, with such offerings as Kat Von D cosmetics as well as Tarina Tarentino representing the interaction of fashion and beauty. “Each product attracts a different audience,” she added.

Experiential Consumer Connections

“Consumers are coming in for innovation, but not for scary innovation,” said Grant. “They are often drawn to the natural and the technical, like a new delivery mechanism. In addition, where women hesitated to spend on themselves, they are now [spending]. They are cautious, but are looking for meaningful purchases—whether they are identifying with the brand or knowing and communicating with their beauty advisor [creates the meaning]. Today’s customer is spending, but more thoughtfully than she did before the recession hit.”