Jean-Paul Agon joined L’Oréal in 1978, straight out of business school, and rose meteorically through the ranks to become chief executive officer in 2006. With a background like that, you can’t help but think the executive has seen it all. Yet last December, in an exclusive interview with WWD Beauty Inc, Agon made it clear that despite his many years of experience, running the world’s biggest beauty company today is far from business as usual.
“What I see is a market that has changed more in the past three years than in the past 30,” he said. “The market today is much more exciting. There is a new type of competition. Innovation has to be faster. You have to be much more agile, much more nimble.”
Much of that change can be chalked up to Millennials and the emergence of the digital era. While the impact of the demographic from a consumer point of view has been much-discussed, the consequences from a corporate point of view haven’t. For this issue of Beauty Inc, we’ve delved into the world of beauty’s young rockstars. Over the past couple of years, a new breed of young executive—whether entrepreneur or employed by a well- established company—has emerged. This is a group that isn’t breaking the rules of beauty, they’re rewriting them. Take Jamie Kern Lima, the founder of It Cosmetics, one of beauty’s fastest-growing brands. In less than a decade, she has propelled the brand to more than $300 million in sales on the strength of an innovation strategy that emphasizes hero products and a distribution game plan that capitalizes on her ability to connect with consumers through multiple media platforms. In “Strike It Rich” on page 28, Rachel Strugatz looks at the evolution of the brand—and It’s future.
Lima is not alone. In “Major!” on page 21, we’ve compiled a list of 50 superstars under the age of 40 who collectively are crafting the future of beauty. A dynamic group that includes a young woman pioneering 3-D printing for makeup, a Dubai-based blogger whose influence has gone global and a duo who met while working behind the counter at Nordstrom, bonded over the lack of bold lip color and now oversee a successful social media makeup brand, the list makes one thing abundantly clear: The future of beauty is very bright indeed.—Jenny B. Fine