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Real Relationships Power the Beauty Industry

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: September 23, 2013
Shiseido Cosmetics America CEO Heidi Manheimer and Bloomingdale's chairman and CEO Michael Gould

Heidi Manheimer, CEO of Shiseido Cosmetics America, and Michael Gould, chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale’s, discussed strategic business partnerships at the September 2013 CEW Newsmaker Forum.

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“While there is a level of loyalty already established, we want to find the new customer, as well as make sure the customer wants to come back. It is also key to know how to deal with the consumer. Having key people who know what hospitality is and can offer it to the consumer is very important,” said Manheimer.

Scalamandre noted that statistical findings suggest millenials will outspend baby boomers by the year 2014, asking how do we keep current? Manheimer said, “Shiseido has launched a brand new line, called the Ibuki Collection, to a brand new consumer, which is designed specifically to address the unique skin care concerns of millenials, women ages 25 to 34. We are also doing a collaboration with Bloomingdale’s.” Ibuki, which translates as inner strength, consists of a collection of products designed to correct imperfections, strengthen skin’s resilience, and help fortify the skin on a cellular level, combating visible pores, blemishes, and uneven skin tone.

Gould agreed that new customers are important, but that nurturing all customers is an imperative. He cited the Parable of the Mountain, offered in the evening’s information packet, which relates the story of Lao-Li and the great master, Hwan, in ancient China. Here, the view from the top of the mountain, Mount Ping, is different from what one sees at the bottom of the mountain. Gould suggested the importance of bringing this lesson to life. “What you cannot see can be seen from a different part of the mountain,” he said.

Gould reiterated that this is one of the problems of leadership. “You have to see it from two different angles. There are always two sides to everything. It costs me five times more to get a new customer than to nurture an established one,” he said. And he added, 38% of Bloomingdale’s shoppers last year bought beauty. “What are we doing to nurture that? It’s not complicated. To be someone’s friend is different from being someone’s sales associate. This is part of our thinking. It becomes a relationship, not just a transaction. If the customer trusts us, how do we take the opportunity to nurture this? We need to nurture the customer. The online people think the in-store people are dinosaurs. But, we need each other. With a brand like Shiseido, or Dior, for example, we need to ramp up that business to get more of these customers into the store."

Legacy for the Industry

Gould also noted that, in addition to the important legacy left by your parents to you—and your hope to leave the same—on a personal level, there is also a business legacy. That, said Gould, “Is to remember, there is no ‘I’ in team. I know I have the best team, not just in beauty, but across the board.” Quoting Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, Gould said, “I control two things, human capital and money capital. That’s what it’s about. I hope my legacy will be that I gave people an opportunity to be more than they thought they could be.”

He said that while 14 new executives were slated to start work at Bloomingdale’s this coming week, it was important to remember that a new phase of their education was beginning. “Your education didn’t start with your Harvard degree. Today a new education starts. Life is an endless process. It doesn’t have a summit. At Bloomingdale’s our culture helps people grow.”

And Manheimer said, “I also have the best people, and as for a legacy, I hope I make a difference in someone else’s lives. If I could have made a difference both personally and professionally in someone else’s lives that would be my biggest hope.”