By  on September 23, 2009

Bare Escentuals chief executive officer Leslie Blodgett keeps letters and pictures sent to her from Bare Minerals fans tacked on the wall outside her office to remind her — and the 300 or so employees at the mineral makeup company — about the importance of paying attention to customers.

“One time, I gave everyone an address from a customer, and I asked them to write a note and gave them an envelope so that they could tell women that use our product that they care about them,” she recounted. “It really happens inside the company first so that everyone knows that’s our mission.”

Blodgett, along with Kate Somerville, chief executive officer of her namesake skin care line, and Alexandre Chouery, creative director of the salon Frédéric Fekkai Greenwich, spoke at a panel discussion last Friday entitled “The Pioneers of Beauty” at Kate Somerville’s Los Angeles skin care clinic. They emphasized meaningful customer contact as a brand differentiator and a crucial business driver.

Blodgett estimated that Bare Escentuals will put on roughly 6,400 events this year to ensure that the brand keeps tabs on women’s cosmetic concerns. “I feel like a servant to women. I will listen and will do what they need,” she said, adding, “It starts with me, and it goes right down to everyone in our boutiques and out in the field.”

Somerville pointed out the one-on-one interaction she has with clients is key to her product development. “People always ask me, ‘What is different from your line to the next line?,’” said Somerville. “Honestly, it’s skin care that’s been tested on real people. They give us their feedback. Not a lot of skin care lines can say that. A lot of them are marketing companies, and they go to a lab and say, ‘What do you have?,’ and the lab says, ‘We’ve got caviar this year.’”

In the salon, Chouery explained the Fekkai clientele interaction process stresses stylists listen and analyze the needs of the woman or man in the salon chair before proposing cuts. “Today, everyone knows how to cut hair, but not a lot of people have the quality of customer service,” he said.

Chouery suggested that individual attention is what defines luxury in today’s bustling beauty market and highlighted the move away from megasalons to intimate locations as indicative of salon owners responding to the demand for personal service. Fekkai is closing a Beverly Hills location on Oct. 10 and reopening a Melrose Place salon on Oct. 14 in a more private setting as its Los Angeles flagship.

“We don’t believe any more [in these] huge salons with like 70 chairs and everybody running [around,]” said Chouery. “The client…doesn’t want any more to be seen with 200 people around her. She wants to [have the] focus on her.”

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