Speed to market, keeping it real and having the pulse of consumers are shared tenets of the three brand marketers CEW is recognizing as the industry’s top rising talent.
The trio — Molly Landman, global brand director, Love Beauty & Planet and ApotheCare Essentials; Ada Lien, senior vice president of global marketing at La Mer, and Sophie Lilley, vice president of global business development at Urban Decay — are singled out as building brands with a strong voice in a competitive retail landscape.
“The beauty industry is rapidly changing, and we need to adapt across all levels,” said Lilley, noting that constant evolution runs in Urban Decay’s DNA. “Now we need to evolve further to speak to this changing retail landscape and increasingly discerning Generation Z users.”
Hitting the mark with younger shoppers is on the front burner with the three innovators, whether in stores or online. “Marketing to the Millennial consumer has become a critical component of La Mer’s strategy. Millennials now make up the largest generation and have a robust, growing spending power,” said Lien, adding their influence cascades into other generations. “And most importantly for La Mer, they’re passionate about beauty and are increasingly engaged with skin care, experimenting with products in novel ways.”
Accelerating the rate at which products debut is top of mind. “Brands [that] are winning anticipate change and respond accordingly,” Lien added. “This requires new thinking and an agile approach. Today, brands need to be close to consumer trends and insights to better understand the user and respond to her needs.” Luxury nameplates need to be on trend and have an “intimate” understanding of customers’ interests, hobbies and preferences, she added.
Among those predilections is a quest for natural formulations. “People are focusing so much more on brands that make them not only look good, but that make them feel good in the process. This means that transparency, honesty and origin have a new place in brand development and storytelling,” Landman said. Her recent launches of Love, Beauty & Planet and ApotheCare Essentials are cases in point. “The industry is going to have to stay on top of the growing naturals space as well as more specialized and personalized product solutions, all while delighting people visually and sensorially. There is also the opportunity to meld this with new technology, augmented realities and one-on-one conversations.”
Lien echoed thoughts on transparency. “They [consumers] see themselves as equal stakeholders in a brand’s purpose and want to be in the know — they want a peek behind the curtain.”
The three industry pace-setters insisted big companies can keep up with indies in the new product race. Landman explained how Unilever was able to work with alacrity to bring Love Beauty & Planet and ApotheCare to life. “There was a small group of passionate brand creators, working efficiently to develop a brand under a rigorous yet nimble process, while keeping the needs of the people we serve top of mind,” she explained. “Keeping up with trends is tough because the world has become so much flatter with so many more influences and micro influences popping up what seems like hourly. But always having your eyes open, being curious and taking inspiration from a multitude of sources from food to travel to current events means you can have a pretty good vision of the landscape. It’s deciding which ones will stick that’s the hard part.”
Determining what trends are worth pursuing is a component of business today. “Everything today is about curation. You can speak to trends with new product and existing [ones] — it is how to pivot the marketing [and] angle to be more authentic to the brand and the audience,” Lilley said. “It is also important to always have a point of view and not try to do everything. A trend can come and go so quickly it is important to identify ones that ring true to the brand and to your true customer and, more importantly, the ones you can drive to be long-term concepts.”
When Lilley joined Urban Decay in 2007, social media was in its infancy and open sell was just hitting its stride. “Brands still held all the power. Over the past five years, we have seen the democratization of beauty as the power shifted from brands and retailers to the customer. The Gen Z and Millennial customer has demanded a more transparent approach to marketing as the usage and audience of beauty has transformed to truly be for everyone.”
And while shoppers want access 24/7, Lien said beauty is still a physical sell. “Today’s digitally savvy consumers often start and end their journey digitally. But while consumers live in the digital age, she still craves a human connection with 75 percent of consumers shopping in store.”
Molly Landman is a global director at Unilever, responsible for the brands Love Beauty & Planet and ApotheCare Essentials. With 13 years of experience in the beauty and retail industry, Landman has worked at Unilever for the past eight years developing and launching new hair innovations under Suave, TRESemmé and Dove.
Ada Lien is the senior vice president of global marketing at La Mer. She joined The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. in 2003 as part of the inaugural class of the Presidential Management Associate Program and has since held many roles within the organization at brands such as Clinique and Prescriptives in various global and North American marketing roles.
Sophie Lilley is vice president of global business development for Urban Decay, overseeing the brand’s global expansion. A L’Oréal veteran, Lilley has worked across the makeup and fragrance categories under brands such as Giorgio Armani, L’Oréal Paris and YSL Beauté.