CEW(UK) Mentoring Event: Beauty at QVC

On Thursday, December 12, 2013, CEW(UK) welcomed Joanne Lee, buying director, beauty and jewelry, QVC UK, to share her knowledge of the beauty industry and understanding the beauty customer.

Lee started her talk by introducing QVC’s wide range of customers. QVC is one of the world’s largest multimedia retailers. In the U.K. alone, more than one million people shop with QVC regularly, and 7.6 million people tune in every month. QVC also is a retailer that reaches an extremely varied array of people. It is an integral part of the business to understand the customer: who they are, what they buy and how they buy. It is this that helps determine what time of day a brand is sold, who the presenter is, how they present the product and the things that they say. As such, investing in understanding their customers is key. QVC recently ran an extensive profiling study to identify seven key customer types, QVC’s “Magnificent 7,” bringing each group to life to ensure this insight is used by all parts of the business, every day.

Understanding the customer is something that has always been important to Lee. Growing up in South Wales, her mother and father ran the village post office and store where Lee would help out when she wasn’t at school. From a young age she was taught “the customer is always right.” In her professional life, Lee opened the new House of Fraser Reading store and was then drafted into the retailer’s head office to project manage, from an operational and cross functional perspective, the new stores opening and refurbishment programs nationwide. From this, she moved to the beauty buying team as head of beauty development and educated herself on every beauty brand, learning to not only understand the House of Fraser customer but also the customer of each brand wanting to be involved in the beauty hall. Lee then became the beauty buying director of House of Fraser.

Just over a year and a half ago, Lee moved to QVC, a move that she says was extremely scary to make after her time at House of Fraser but a role that she is clearly relishing in. Lee finished her talk with her three top tips:

  1. Customer relationships are key. No matter who your customer is—an actual customer, a manager, a client, etc.—you should always nurture this relationship and resolve any negativity as the customer relationship is the most important thing in business.
  2. Don’t assume you know your customers wants and needs. Always look at what they do and use data to monitor patterns.
  3. Do one thing every day that scares you. Don’t be afraid to take risks and jump into difficult roles or projects. Be brave.
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