By  on June 25, 2010

Joe Campinell, president of L’Oréal USA’s estimated $3 billion Consumer Products Division, recently sat down with WWD to discuss the $11 billion-plus mass beauty market, most notably the company’s L’Oréal Paris and Maybelline-Garnier brands. Campinell, who has been with the firm for 24 years, said while the beauty industry has been challenged by the economy, L’Oréal’s recent tactics, such as its new corporate promotional strategy eliminating buy-one-get-one-free, or BOGO, deals, has helped it realize sales gains in cosmetics for the first half despite many retailers’ concerns to the contrary. Repeating history and doing what has worked in the past appears as a theme in Campinell’s management strategy. “As a larger firm that can afford to, we advertise during a recession because when we get to the other side of it, if we have built our share, we will be in so much better shape. This is something we have been doing my entire career here.” The executive, who admitted to having a Facebook page, “but I don’t know how to hide things,” and who does not tweet, also talked about putting more of L’Oréal’s resources behind pure media, the challenges facing Garnier and future growth plans for nail, currently beauty’s most explosive category.

WWD: What market shifts have you seen this year versus last year?
Joe Campinell:
There is kind of a mixed consumer mentality now. One is that things aren’t that great yet. Unemployment is still high. Mortgages, foreclosures, house prices are challenged. There is always a nervousness about keeping your job. On the other hand, maybe because it’s warm out now, she’s thinking that she has all the phones she’s ever going to need so maybe she’ll pick up a lipstick. There’s a general attitude that feeling good about yourself is OK. There’s nothing like beauty products to make her feel a little better. One of the big shifts we are seeing, at least in our brands, is a huge growth in cosmetics. Our cosmetics business on L’Oréal and Maybelline is phenomenal. (Industry sources estimate cosmetics sales at L’Oréal are up in the high-single digits.) The second thing is that hair color is becoming a little more of a cosmetic — it’s more than just coloring gray. So, despite some of the discounting that’s going on in hair color by our competition, you are starting to see more of an interest in hair color that has more life to it. That’s what happened with us with Féria. It showed a real resurgence because it’s more of a fashion brand, and we started to see that toward the end of last year. In hair care, well, it’s straightforward. You have to give them something that is good in performance, but also has good cosmetics aspects, whether it is the lather, the fragrance, the feeling that, in the end, their hair feels better. The challenge is skin care and I think it is really just a recognition by women of the necessity of taking better care of their skin. When we compare ourselves to Europe, we have been catching up for X number of years to the involvement that European women have in skin care. There are some good signs coming out of the salon and department store world, too. That’s probably the real proof that things are changing. The mass market can grow because people trade into it. When you start to see better performance out of the salon world and the department store world, it’s even better news. I think we will see a continued improvement in the economy. It won’t be as fast as has been in the past.

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