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FGI Talks Changes in the Beauty Industry

Fashion Group International Inc. discuss changes in the beauty industry at its Beauty Visionaries presentation.

NEW YORK — Individualization, intersections creating new beauty opportunities, micro data, elevated experiences, efficiency and exclusivity are among the next buzzwords expected to displace the term disruptive in the year to come, according to industry experts who spoke at the Fashion Group International Inc.’s Beauty Visionaries presentation at the New York Hilton.

The panel included Doreen Arbel, senior vice president of marketing for Lancôme; Katia Beauchamp, founder of Birchbox; Trudi Loren, senior vice president of corporate fragrance development at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.; Salvatore Mauceri, chief executive officer of Wella North America, and Kate Oldham, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty, lingerie and swim for Saks Fifth Avenue. The session, with sponsor partners Elle and the Estée Lauder Cos., as well as sponsors Cosmoprof North America and Symrise, was moderated by Caroline Fabrigas, ceo of Scent Marketing Inc.

Here, some of the key takeaways from their presentations:

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• Lancôme’s Doreen Arbel: As Lancôme celebrates its 80th anniversary, there is a focus on elevating the shopping experience and ensuring the brand resonates with all shoppers — no matter age or ethnicity. Arbel described the “perfect storm,” that occurred in its quest for an ambassador who captured the happiness and confidence of the Lancôme brand. She said that was achieved with Lupita Nyong’o, who Arbel called a “perfect fit.”

Lancôme’s portfolio now includes up to 200 shades for all skin types and color. With the makeup segment growing rapidly, Arbel singled out highlighting and contouring as “being on fire,” and the brand’s Le Duo reaping the benefits of the trend. Products out of Asia also set the pace, such as cushion technology used in Miracle Cushion.

After only two months in Asia, Lancôme sold more than a million units and the U.S. launch is off to a strong start, Arbel said.

Addressing important developments in social media, Arbel encouraged companies to not “just look for numbers” of social influencers, but those who reflect the tonality of the brand. She also praised the concept of programmatic buys (the use of technology to automate processes and the use of math to improve results), for making spending more efficient.

• Birchbox’s Katia Beauchamp: With no beauty retail experience, but an idea to reach underserved consumers, Beauchamp first encountered resistance from cosmetics companies. “They said that no way would people pay for samples; they expect them for free but ‘that’s adorable,’” Beauchamp recalled of the reaction suppliers had to her concept. Beauty marketers told her to come back when Birchbox had 10,000 subscribers. Few could have conceived the five-year subscriber goal would be achieved in just seven months. Beauchamp said the concept hit a chord with multitasking women who were interested in beauty, but put their time into other directions. They liked the personalization, which is based off of their consumer profiles.

What has surprised some is that Birchbox hasn’t been about “trading one mascara for another,” but rather increasing consumption, Beauchamp explained. “We are completely changing their lifestyles and opening [customers] up to categories they weren’t shopping until Birchbox,” she said. The audience is diverse, stretching from 16 to 65, she added. In addition to growing internationally, Beauchamp said feedback about the need for an “offline” store prompted them to open the first physical location last year.

• The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.’s Trudi Loren: The once sleepy prestige fragrance business is awakening, stirred by a return to what Loren called “the gesture of fragrance,” as well as wide acceptance in emerging markets. The perfumer and craftsmanship are once again at the forefront of scent development. In growing markets such as the Middle East, Turkey and Brazil, fragrance represents as much as 75 percent of beauty sales. These countries are prompting a revival on a global stage of Orientals, spices and warm woods.

Testing of fragrances is a tool but shouldn’t be the indicator, said Loren, who encouraged fragrance developers to trust their instincts and embrace the polarizing effects some scents have. “I’d rather have a consumer love a fragrance than like it,” she explained. “That’s how authenticity is created.”

• Wella’s Salvatore Mauceri: Wella’s biggest competitive edge is its stylists in the field who know what’s happening and spot trends. The stylists received top of the line training from Wella, and in turn, Wella relies on them to uncover what’s emerging in order to create great experiences. “They know exactly what’s going on in the market,” said Mauceri, adding the stylists are able to select complicated products, such as those for textured hair, and demonstrate them in ways clients can understand. While social media is good to gauge trends, “what people say in the comfort of their homes,” and what they do based on perhaps religious or logistic reasons are different. That’s where the touch points with clients are paramount.

• Saks Fifth Avenue’s Kate Oldham: Saks is intent on making customers feel there’s something new and different in its beauty offer. A key tool is the ability to electronically “see” inside a client’s wardrobe — what they’ve purchased in ready-to-wear, what might complement that in beauty and what might need replenishing. Recently Saks merchandised synergistic beauty items within designer collections such as Armani and Dior. “People were worried we wouldn’t get traffic off the first floor,” she said. Instead, shoppers saw beauty “in a different way.”