Revlon Volumazing Mascara

Revlon is slowly but surely trucking along on its turnaround path.

The latest effort is Lash Loudly, a digital-first video campaign featuring new global ambassador Mette Towley alongside fellow dancer David Hallberg. The video is a more conceptual departure from traditional Revlon advertising efforts, which once might have been just 30 seconds of product-pushing. Towley and Hallberg are shown dancing in competing individual styles — Towley with high-energy freestyle moves and Hallberg performing classical ballet. The product the video was made to promote — Revlon’s new Volumazing mascara — is barely seen.

At the helm of Revlon’s new marketing efforts is Silvia Galfo, who was promoted to global brand president in February, taking over from Anne Talley. After stints with Lancôme and David Yurman, Galfo joined Revlon last year as senior vice president of product innovation, business development and packaging design, charged with re-energizing the entire portfolio of brands to move faster and think more trend-driven. Now focused solely on the Revlon brand, Galfo’s attention is on making it more attractive to young consumers in an increasingly fragmented and sluggish mass-market landscape. It’s been slow-going thus far — the brand’s sales were down 5 percent year-over-year in the four-week period ending June 30, according to Nielsen.

Looking ahead, Galfo is fine-tuning the product assortment to mix quick-to-market trend items with hero essentials, retooling the in-store experience in mass and drug, and is focused on increasing digital marketing and e-commerce growth.

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Here, Galfo talks to WWD about her plans for the brand’s reinvention.

WWD: First off, how is the turnaround going?

SILVIA GALFO: It’s going well when you look at our earned media value on social — [there are more] younger people being interested in the brand. The brand is being noticed among the young beauty enthusiasts, who we really weren’t talking to as much before. The turnaround [is going] slower than we thought it would take, but we had an out-of-stock situation at the beginning of the year that we’re now resolving, so I think that will help.  The U.S. is the most challenging market for us because of the retail environment. Traffic has gone down in retail stores, and the acceleration [is happening] in [untracked channels]. There are other markets — France, Australia — where we have stronger growth. The landscape isn’t as tough as it is in the U.S.

WWD: What about the Revlon brand appeals to consumers in global markets? 

S.G.: The markets don’t have the same maturity. In Australia, we’re an iconic brand. The innovation piece in Australia has been a big driver for us. We’ve launched innovation first in Australia before coming to the U.S. We’ve expanded into new distribution channels — like grocery, where there is a big growth going on — there. We’re in [over] 150 [international] markets. After the U.S., the biggest markets are Australia, South Africa, the U.K., Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. About half of our business is growing through our other regions.

WWD: In regards to the turnaround efforts, what’s been working thus far?

S.G.: Looking back at the last 18 months, there have been two standout launches and something we just launched. The Ultra HD Matte Liquid Lip was true innovation for the market and the brand — we were the first to create matte with the right payoff. Long-wear is a very important equity for us and every time we launch something in the category, we have strong success. We have a new lip product called Kiss Cushion Lip Tint — it’s a skin-care-infused product with a tint-like payoff and a pretty cool, addictive experience with the cushion on your lip. We launched it in April at Beautycon — it’s early, but we’re having good results. We’ve also launched ColorStay Full Coverage Foundation — younger consumers are looking for higher coverage, matte finish. When you have a big brand like Revlon, you need to play in all different categories.

WWD: The Lash Loudly campaign, which is part of the larger Live Boldly platform and debuted last week, is more conceptual than what one would expect from a typical Revlon ad. How is this campaign a departure for the brand? 

S.G. It’s not a traditional campaign where you talk about the mascara and what it does. It’s saying that everyone has a way of being bold and expressing boldness. Where we want to go as a brand is to connect with consumers on these types of values.

What we tried to achieve with this campaign is to reassert the brand, and continue to stay relevant culturally, as we always have been — like in the Seventies with the Charlie [ads] and in the Nineties expressing diversity with strong women. Everybody [in the beauty industry] is talking about inclusivity and diversity, but it was always in [our] DNA. With [Live Boldly], we positioned these strong women that are free, independent and capture the younger audience who are very difficult to get. They are mixing and matching prestige and mass. They want innovation — they are fast-beauty consumers. We needed to capture this consumer back, because we didn’t participate in that consumer growth the past few years. With these values of celebrating self-expression and strength [combined with] innovative product, we’re trying to [attract this younger audience].

WWD: The Lash Loudly campaign is tied to the new Volumazing mascara. How significant is this product launch for Revlon?

S.G.:  We are playing catch-up on mascara, so for us it’s a very important launch. We needed innovation in the volumizing mascara segment — we were lacking a performance-driven product. What’s also important is the way we’ve tried to communicate about the product. In the future, our communication on product is going to be [more] via an emotional connection and an overarching message versus being hard-selling on how much volume you’re getting and how big the brush is.

WWD: The mass market in the U.S. is becoming increasingly fragmented due to the surge of affordably priced indie brands. How do you compete with them?

S.G.: Accelerating the timeline to bring new products into market. It’s what I’ve tried to implement since arriving [at the company] last year — getting new products within six months if it’s just shade extensions, or within eight, 10, or 12 months [for new products]. In bigger companies this was not common practice, but today with the increase in brands that are smaller, nimble and more agile, we needed to change the way we develop new product. We have feelers out in Asia to [capture] the trends when they start, so we’re not launching them when it’s at the end of the curve. We have teams in place to spot trends, work with outside vendors and be very nimble in the way we do things — and we’re shortening the layers of decision-making to make sure we do this fast enough.

We’re trying to focus more on trend items, ancillaries like highlighters and intense pigmentation, sparkles — all the products you see that resonate with younger consumers — at the same time [the indie brands are] launching them. We did one collection for Ulta Beauty called Electric Shock — the pigments are super-high sparkle. It’s about being on trend while the trend is out now. We have another collection coming called Shoot the Moon — it’s the same idea. We really try to balance between trend items and collections and going back to our core, which is ColorStay and performance-driven products.

WWD: With the increasing fragmentation in the U.S. market, how do you see Revlon’s place amid all these new brands?

S.G.: Obviously, high-quality product is one of the things we want to make sure we’re at the forefront of. Even being a mass brand, we have prestige-quality product. High performance is also important. We have a heritage in long-wear — it’s one of the things I want to make sure we have a strong play in. If you look at these smaller indie brands, they play more with trends, color and effects versus high performance. We want to continue embracing our high-performance DNA, but we lost the ethos of collections and effects [and we want to bring some of that back]. We want to make trends that are easy for all consumers to achieve. We’re not the extreme, 10-layers of makeup indie brand. Instead, we want to bring to consumers products that are easy to apply because the quality of the textures is good and you can do anything you want with your look.

WWD: How are you competing with the indie brands?

S.G.: The first piece is innovation — bringing to market products that are relevant, different and good performance. We have a strong, iconic brand, so making this brand relevant to the younger, beauty-savvy consumer is another place we can compete. These indie brands all go after the same influencers and have the same look. We’re doing aspirational things that resonate with young consumers’ lifestyles, touching more on street culture. We’re moving a lot of our efforts into the digital space — it’s a full experience now. Even for people who don’t shop online, they’re going online to [research product]. It’s the playing field of makeup. We want to make sure we’re there as soon as possible for this consumer, whether they’re browsing, looking for inspiration or just consuming content.

WWD: With mass and drug facing declining foot traffic, how are you thinking about Revlon’s distribution in the U.S.? What channels are you growing in?

S.G.: Traditional [mass and drug] distribution is still big for us. We’re trying to rethink with them how we can change the in-store experience. We’re doing some tests with CVS and Walgreens to improve the experience for the consumer in-store. That being said, we’re obviously putting a huge emphasis on dot-com. Amazon and our retailers’ web sites — they’re all growing. We’re trying to accelerate and provide good content and experiences online. We’re trying to give retailers exclusive products, because young consumers are attracted to scarcity.

WWD: Earlier this year you did a revamp on your fixtures in Ulta stores, complete with testers and experiential elements. Will we see that rollout to mass and drug?

S.G.: We’re testing something similar with some of our partners — we want to create a similar experience in mass. It obviously involves cost, but what those fixtures do is create a playful experience where people have no limits to test and try. This experience is lacking in the traditional mass market today.

WWD: How does the tools category play into your overall vision for the brand?

S.G.: It’s not a major part of our business — probably 15 percent — and we haven’t been innovating for the past few years, but we have a strong innovation pipeline for next year. I see opportunity to link tools to makeup — tweezers to brows and curlers to lashes.

WWD: Where else do you see opportunity?

S.G.: We have a lot of opportunity to grow our face business. We have such a strong ColorStay foundation business, that we haven’t really expanded strongly enough. We did some innovation on highlighters and contouring, but we have opportunity to go further. [I’m looking at] this hybrid category of taking skin care into the makeup category for more multifunctional products. We have a pretty solid hair-color business, and a pretty big opportunity to expand that. The big difference between traditional brands and indie brands is we have strong heritage in [franchises] like Super Lustrous. I think it’s important that we build those pillars because they created equity for us in the category — we can expand on them with different forms of benefit, texture and application.