In order for companies to lead tomorrow, their executives have to embrace aspiration and go where customers are leading them, John Demsey emphasized.
“Our future relies on building on the pioneering aspects of what was done yesterday, the realities of today and the aspirational hopes of tomorrow,” said Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., speaking at the WWD CEO Summit here. “Aspiration is the thing that keeps us going and opens up even greater potential for the future.”
To do that successfully, it’s necessary to be aware of how fragmented and fast-changing the worldwide market is and to “read between the Tweets” to find the opportunities, he said.
And aspiration is all about building dreams, said Demsey. “Jean-Paul [Agon, L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer] last night referred to the fact that he believed, as I do, that the beauty industry is fundamentally different than many consumer product industries in that we actually fulfill women’s aspirations,” said Demsey. “We are in the business of creating products, creating concepts, creating experiences that make people feel better and make them experience intangible feelings of happiness and acceptance.”
However, unlike past decades, the industry can’t expect to dictate those dreams to consumers, he said. “Instead we must discern and define them on a regionally local, relevant basis,” Demsey said.
To keep ahead of the trends, Demsey suggests immersion in local markets whenever possible. In his global travels, he always procures “a stack of high-end international fashion magazines, a stack of local fashion magazines, a stack of paparazzi rag sheets and I turn on the equivalent of MTV. And I sit for a couple of hours and just try to absorb what’s going on and then I go off to my market visit. It’s important to put yourself in the context of where you are because those are the people who buy our products.”
Growth lies within the aspirations of emerging populations and communities around the world, as in Russia, China, Brazil and India, he said. As well, he said, “we’re using a powerful combination of our brand’s inherent DNA and our inherent ability to tell great stories and to harness the aspirations of today’s consumers to drive our success, whether it be online, through television advertising, print advertising or great editorial or in-store experience.”
Demsey used MAC Cosmetics as an example. “When I first started at MAC in 1998, the company didn’t have the cash flow to run any advertising, but what they did have [was] the insight to hire makeup professionals and to establish a powerful core DNA of community and a community of artists around the world,” said Demsey. “That DNA, with its roots in makeup artistry, theater and fashion, embracing its impassioned diversity of all ages, all races, all sexes and its sense of community gave MAC’s popular culture authenticity.”
The brand was also quick to embrace social media. “MAC was able to take a look at subgroups in small communities, embrace them and understand the power of small groups working together to become a bigger voice,” he said. “As a result, today MAC has more than 3.2 million Facebook fans, over 100,000 Twitter followers and the YouTube channel passed five million viewers in March....This is a brand that evolved over the course of 14 years from $100 million wholesale business to what industry sources claim is almost $2 billion today.”
These days, he said, marketers face challenges from a whole new range of distribution channels, from specialty stores to Sephora, e-commerce, QVC and curated sales sites. “Content lives absolutely everywhere, from bloggers to YouTube to comments on a Facebook page. New platformslike Pinterest and SparkRebelgive everyone the power to have style authority....And it has become such a mash-up, it’s even more challenging than ever for global marketers,” said Demsey.
The key to fueling momentum for tomorrow is combining the tapped-in storytelling with established marketing principles and a sound business model and business strategy, he said. “We have seen no singular road map to success,” said Demsey. “Our challenge is to keep [the beauty aspiration] interesting along the way, keep it relevant, to keep delivering experiences and to make people feel special and to tap into their deepest desires. And if we want to do that, we just can’t look at the beauty business. We can’t stand apart or above or outside. We need to be plugged in, in real life, with real people and popular culture, which holds the key to my belief that modern-day aspiration is the driver of our future growth.”
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)