CEW Series Talks Risk-Taking

During the conversation, executives shared some insights on how to provide consumers with innovative products and leading technologies.

Carlotta Jacobson, David Greenberg and Carolyn Holba.

Risk can be a reward.

That was the lesson learned by David Greenberg, president of Maybelline New York, Garnier and Essie. It was one of his driving points during a wide ranging Cosmetic Executive Women panel discussion on June 25 at the The Harmonie Club. Speaking before a packed room, he was joined by Carolyn Holba, senior vice president of marketing for Maybelline New York, Garnier and Essie. The discussion, moderated by WWD Beauty Inc editor Jenny B. Fine, centered on growth and risk strategies for CEW’s Women & Men in Beauty Series “Beauty Risk-Taker: Maybelline New York.”

During the conversation, the executives shared some insights on how to provide consumers with innovative products and leading technologies.

When looking at the long-term vision of Maybelline, Holba described the three pillars that the brand always goes back to.

“The first is bringing true innovation to the marketplace,” said Holba. “And we measure innovation behind performance, quality and making sure the products that we bring to the marketplace are on trend. The next thing is accessibility. Accessibility can be defined as easy-to-find. The Maybelline brand is available in close to 40,000 doors across the country. The last pillar is the New York aspect of the brand. It’s very important to us because it guides us in everything we do.”

To that end, Holba mentioned that when looking at 2013 year to date, according to SymphonyIRI, Maybelline is up 4 percent and recently it was up 6 percent in the color cosmetics category.

Reiterating from earlier in the discussion, Fine said that shockingly every 15 seconds a Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Shadow is sold, beating the variety of mascaras from the brand. She went on to ask about the strategy that has taken the brand’s mascaras from a 40 percent share to a 60 percent share.

“I think if we’ve learned one thing it’s to try not to do too much,” said Greenberg. “Because sometimes if you do too much, you do nothing.”

In 2009, the brand took a risk and set itself up to be number one by mixing up its portfolio and focusing more on lips and face by establishing a color authority and elevating the brand imagery.

“We look at this whole thing as an adventure,” said Greenberg. “Adventure is what drives us, profit is the consequence.”

Switching gears to digital, the panelists spoke about Maybelline’s Web site and online presence.

“The most important thing for us, and reflecting on the development of this site overall, is that we want our consumers whenever and wherever to access information,” said Holba. “I think the fundamental shift with our Web site was being able to provide her access to that information no matter what type of device she is utilizing.”

While most of the conversation centered on Maybelline, the panelists quickly chimed in about Essie. And according to Greenberg, nail cannot continue on its current trajectory.

“Not everything can grow at 40 percent a year,” said Greenberg, “but if it grows at 5 or 6 percent, that’s pretty good. Growth invites a lot of people to jump in, but when you invite a lot of people, not everyone qualifies.”

L’Oréal bought Essie in 2010 and saw the potential of the brand DNA and stayed true to it.

Touching on Garnier, an audience member asked how it’s successfully grown across categories in both skin and hair care and if there are opportunities to go further.

“Garnier has always been about performance in a very straightforward way,” said Greenberg. “I say what I’m going to do and then I deliver. We often say in advertising it’s proven because it is proven. The reason we’ve married Garnier with Maybelline in the same division has to do with accessibility and inviting people to be a part of it. It isn’t so much our brand, it’s the consumer’s brand and people have grabbed on to it in a way that is inspiring. It has so many thoughts and feelings about honesty, modernity, energy and optimism, about the future and about the planet. And those are things that are timely right now.”

The smoothness of the panel discussion contrasted sharply with a couple glitches in the program’s start, when Jill Scalamandre, chairwoman of CEW, introduced Greenberg, as David Goldberg. Cheryl Kramer Kaye, Shape’s executive beauty director, unintentionally provided a joke line for the evening by mixing up her products. She very graciously stated that she was wearing Clump Crusher, as a plug for Maybelline. The only problem was that it is a product produced by archrival CoverGirl. Kaye quickly realized her confusion and adroitly shifted into reverse gear, signalling that she was taking the statement back. But Greenberg gleefully used her faux pas as reference for jokes throughout the evening. Clearly, her risk was his reward.