By  on January 18, 2018

Murad is upping its focus on digital under new chief executive officer Michelle Shigemasa.Shigemasa, who had been with the Estée Lauder Cos. for close to two decades, took the helm of the prestige skin-care brand in late 2017. Most recently, Shigemasa was with Smashbox, where she held a variety of roles including senior vice president and general manager for North America, most recently. Before that she was with Bobbi Brown, and before that she was a buyer at Nordstrom.Murad — a skin-care brand — allows Shigemasa to expand her expertise, she said."The category of skin care was very appealing to me as well as stretching my responsibilities into new territory," Shigemasa said. Her reasons for joining Murad include founder Dr. Howard Murad, the company's overall wellness philosophy and "last but not least" —  free facials, she joked. "My skin can use a little work — the doctor is keeping me in check," Shigemasa said.Murad, which had more than $100 million in sales when it sold to Unilever in 2014, is on track for double-digit growth in 2018, according to industry sources. The line has a problem-solution approach that targets skin concerns like acne, wrinkles and age spots. It's sold at Sephora, Ulta Beauty, QVC, Massage Envy and other places, as well as online through its own web site.That site is something Shigemasa intends to focus on as she ramps up the company's digital operations."I'm excited about being able to take what I would consider a strong fundamental brand and really move it and leapfrog it to the next level," Shigemasa said. One of her priorities is to "step-change and accelerate the digital space, specifically via influencer partnerships, social media, entering into new digital spaces and doubling down on direct to consumer," she said.She's also hoping to "simplify and amplify" the brand story to bring it to life in a "more meaningful way," she said.A heightened focus on digital means staffing up to meet present needs, Shigemasa noted, including one hire that's already been made — Ginny Chien, vice president of consumer engagement. She has previously worked for Lauder, Bliss and the Los Angeles Times, briefly, as style editor."When I go back to the priorities that I have in terms of the digital piece, building out a very focused and substantial consumer engagement structure encompassing everything from creative to social to direct-to-consumer — that whole department was built with a very specific focus," Shigemasa said. "[Chien] will transform us in terms of the consumer engagement aspect of our business. We've really leaned forward in terms of putting our money where our mouth is and our focus is."

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