By  on May 15, 2009

After 24 years in the mass market arena, Carol Hamilton joined L’Oréal USA’s Luxury Products Division as president eight months ago — becoming one of the few to straddle both the mass and the class worlds. One of her most surprising discoveries, she said, has been that luxury is able to adapt to market trends far more nimbly than mass — giving innovation in prestige distribution an edge.

“The luxury retailers I’ve worked with have an incredible merchant appetite and seem to be able to get around rigid operations faster than our mass colleagues,” said Hamilton. “When you work with a Wal-Mart, you have to plan out 18 months to two years, and then if you change anything, everyone goes crazy. And we all know that this is an industry of change, where you constantly want to be reacting. And one of the great surprises was to discover how nimble and reactive and how fast the luxury retailers are willing to change their plans if the innovation warrants it.”

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