Deb Henretta is leaving nothing to chance; she has all bets covered.
This story first appeared in the November 30, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Procter & Gamble Co.’s group president of global beauty care has engineered a far-flung network of executive offices, serving as a trend-catching machine, designed to turn tips on changing consumer buying habits into fattened market share and profits.
“My vision is to get back to the day-in, day-out undisputed leader of the beauty-care business,” she said, “and I want to return this business to the growth engine it has been and I know it can be for the P&G Company.”
Her Beauty Care Division runs the gamut from Olay, the mass skin-care franchise with retail sales volume estimated by Brand Finance magazine at $11.8 billion; the DDF dermatological brand; the predominantly North American-oriented Cover Girl and global Max Factor makeup brands; Safeguard hand sanitizer; Old Spice, and Gillette Personal Care for men. For women, there’s Secret, Olay Personal Care and Camay, which Henretta pointed out was P&G’s first beauty brand in 1926. Ivory also fits into the personal-care group.
As reported previously, P&G has moved the management of its skin care and leadership team to Singapore under Nayantara Bali, vice president of global skin care. The cosmetics group is headed by Esi Eggleston-Bracey, vice president of global cosmetics, based in Geneva. The personal care, antiperspirant and deodorant group — headed by Janet Allgaier, vice president of global personal care — is anchored in P&G’s headquarters in Cincinnati. All three report to Henretta, as do the regional vice presidents.
Henretta refers to it as a “hub” system with each group having a shadow organization elsewhere. Henretta explained that Bali’s leadership team will be in Singapore, but “then she’ll have a North American team that will feed feeding into her leadership team and will be located in Cincinnati,” Henretta explained. “The flip side is the personal care, antiperspirant and deodorant business, [which] right now is housed in Cincinnati, but they will have an eastern hub in Asia that will feed into them.”
Henretta now operates out of Cincinnati, but she indicated the beauty-care leadership will eventually move to Singapore.
In addition, Eggleston-Bracey is running the cosmetics group in Switzerland, but her unit has a key manufacturing and research and development operation in Hunt Valley, Md. There are also regional offices in Guangzhou, China, and Panama.
Henretta noted, “I call this the hubbing system because what it does is it allows me to stay very tapped into the trends around the world. I’ve got an Eastern hub and a Western hub, and we share information on trends. We’re sharing information on consumer learnings and I think we are going to have a better business because we’re looking at both sides of the world.
“North America is where my business is and I think there’s still lots of potential for growth,” she continued. “Asia is where my future business will be and obviously there is incredible potential for growth down there.”
In addition to the hubs, Henretta insists on having multicultural leadership teams so when skin-care products are being developed, the innovations will make sense in terms of both the East and the West.
She already has started transplanting some of those discoveries from Asia, where P&G has run up a record of double-digit growth for the last three years. “We’re going to try to bring a lot of those insights, learnings and innovations back into the U.S. business to infuse it.”
One simple example was a program to segment the business according to consumers’ income level as a way of making sure key brands were delivering the most competitive offer for the target customer.
Another example is the gathering of Asian-inspired beauty trends; Henretta is said to be passionate about spotting ideas early on and rolling out the resulting products quickly into the key markets. A recent example is Olay CC Creams (Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting UV Moisturizer), which was launched in the U.S. The CC Cream trend began in Korea.
Henretta maintains that the beauty-care business at P&G revolves around three concepts: “It’s about the creation of unique, iconic beauty brands; it’s a story of deep consumer understanding, insights and connections, and it’s the story of game-changing innovation.” She added, “We pride ourselves on knowing the consumer better than any of our competitors, and we recognize that the consumer can’t always articulate what it is that she wants.” Henretta added that P&G has the tools to help anticipate those unanticipated needs.
One example is the current launch of Olay’s Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, a second generation of Olay’s original Regenerist. The new version works on a science of skin bioenergetics. “It makes your skin act younger, basically,” Henretta explained. “There is really a neat insight that we’ve built on this that your skin isn’t necessarily old. It’s just that your skin becomes tired.”
Henretta said P&G is committed to building Olay, but “that does not mean that we will limit ourselves to Olay and we are always looking for opportunities to expand our portfolio.”
There’s news on the Cover Girl front, with the introduction of Outlast foundations and a more meaningful reentry into the nail enamel category. Henretta added that the company is “trying to create retail magic in the stores” with a new shelf set called “the Cover Girl wall in store.” The brand also has installed what executives call a diamond counter in Chinese department stores.
A stronger effort is being made to reach out to younger consumers with the recruitment of high-energy entertainers Pink and Janelle Monae. A powerful emotional nerve was touched by Talia, a 13-year-old cancer patient. She creates YouTube videos dispensing tips on using makeup to create beautiful looks, even while battling childhood leukemia. The company helped Talia achieve a dream by making her a Cover Girl and appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show.