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Big Plans for Ahava

Elana Drell Szyfer is determined to rev up the Israeli brand's size in the North American market.

New Ahava packaging.
Appeared In
Special Issue
WWDStyle issue 03/25/2011

With a new chief executive officer title under her belt, Elana Drell Szyfer is ready to write a new chapter for Ahava North America.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Drell Szyfer, who was first named Ahava’s North American general manager a few months ago and has just added the ceo title, is determined to rev up the Israeli brand’s size in this market with a rebranding and repackaging effort and a slew of reformulated products sans parabens. All are rolling out now.

Drell Szyfer noted that Yacov Ellis, Ahava’s global ceo, is prioritizing North America for growth in 2011 and beyond, as it is the brand’s largest market outside Israel. The brand is sold in about 30 countries globally.

In the U.S., retailers include Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Beauty 360, Fred Segal and Ulta. Drell Szyfer noted that she hopes to grow the business 20 percent this year. While she refused to discuss numbers, industry sources estimated that the current size of Ahava’s North American business is about $30 million at retail.

“We’re refocusing on the DNA of the brand: Dead Sea minerals,” said Drell Szyfer, noting that she has reduced the size of the line and repackaged everything to appear more cohesive as a brand. “This is a brand that is rooted in being natural, but we really haven’t communicated that before — now we are. We’ve combined the brand’s top four product lines into one cohesive collection, and are using the tag line ‘My Skin Reborn’ on all marketing communications at point of sale. The packaging is now more nature-inspired, with natural colors and elements from the Dead Sea region, such as water, mud, salt and plants.”

As well, a greater emphasis will be placed on facial skin care, said Drell Szyfer. “Our body business is extremely strong, but one of our strategic priorities is to increase the performance of our face products, and our upcoming launches will reflect this priority, as will our messaging,” Drell Szyfer noted. Facial skin care packaging is now designed to call out specific skin care concerns and benefits, and Ahava is emphasizing sampling and social media as means of communicating the brand’s updates. A revamped e-commerce site is launching now, as well.

New formulations not only eschew parabens, but also SLS/SLES, petroleum, harsh synthetics and genetically modified organisms. Not every product has been reformulated, said Drell Szyfer; only the ones which offered “opportunities for enhanced performance.”