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Editor’s Letter: Boom Times in Beauty

The upper end of the beauty market is booming, and the positive impact is cascading across the entire prestige market.

When Leonard Lauder created his famous term, the Lipstick Index, to illustrate the resilience of beauty during times of recession, it’s safe to say he probably wasn’t referring to $48 lipsticks. Thus far this year, though, Tom Ford Beauty is doing a brisk business in lipsticks costing just that. Meanwhile, sales of luxury skin care brands like La Mer, La Prairie and Chantecaille are soaring, while fragrances priced $100 and over are up 48 percent year to date. Indeed, the upper end of the beauty market is booming, and the positive impact is cascading across the entire prestige market. As Karen Grant, global industry analyst of The NPD Group, which provided these figures, says, “The higher end is the engine that is igniting the category, and is part of the reason we are seeing such strong growth.” Discover how the consumption habits of the affluent shopper have evolved in the last 12 months and how they’re impacting the overall market in “Indulge Me.”

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One key evolution has been the demand for great service, among both the affluent and the aspirationals, a fact not lost on our cover subject, Lauren Remington Platt. A fixture of the New York social scene and descendant of the founder of Remington Arms Company, Platt is redefining the door-to-door concept with Vensêtte, which provides hair, makeup and manicures in the privacy of one’s own home. The 20-month-old company is booming, and Platt is now looking to expand her domain geographically and digitally. WWD’s European beauty editor Jennifer Weil reports on Platt’s growth strategy in “At Your Service.”

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There’s a retail boom going on up North, too, in Canada, to be exact, where an influx of stylish fashion and beauty retailers are setting up shop. Sephora, J. Crew Anthropologie, Nordstrom and Target are among those drafting expansion plans for the country, which has a relatively low barrier to entry compared to many emerging markets. But as WSL’s Wendy Liebmann tells beauty financial editor Molly Prior, “Canada is a country that at first glance looks familiar, but there are a lot of differences.” Find out the key issues in “Red Hot Canada.”

No doubt Karen Buglisi, the global brand president of MAC Cosmetics and the subject of this month’s Master Class profile, would have some sage advice for those looking to expand in Canada. Buglisi is one of the key players in MAC’s ascendancy as the number-one color cosmetics brand in the prestige market, and as WWD’s executive editor Pete Born discovers, one who pours her heart and soul (as well as considerable brain power) into growing its business worldwide. Right now, Buglisi and her team are focused on Brazil, a country she calls the brand’s China. MAC is in full expansion mode there, exporting its innovative vision and theatricality to a beauty-hungry consumer group. One key initiative is the opening of flagships, both in Brazil and around the world. It’s an audacious goal, and one that epitomizes MAC’s strategy. Says Buglisi, “We take 100 percent responsibility for entertaining the consumer…It’s the way we bring the brand to life.”

5 Key Points From This Issue

1. Rich Rewards: In beauty, both the affluent and aspirational shopper are back—provided they receive great service.

2. Northern Star: Canada is North America’s new retail hot spot, with Target, Nordstrom and Sephora all plotting expansion plans.

3. The Growth Continuum: MAC’s global flagship strategy looks to capitalize on its key business drivers of entertainment, innovation and inclusiveness.

4. Shake it Up, Baby: Two top London department stores are experimenting with nontraditional formats to attract younger consumers.

5. The Young Guns: Individuality and a subtle sophistication connect the new young stars of the hair and makeup worlds.