Gen Z is rising, and the up-and-coming demographic cohort that already boasts more than $143 billion in buying power is steps ahead of the rest of us, thanks to their keen sense of marketing and self-branding, social media savvy, and unbridled ambition for success.
And now, higher education will reflect the changing tides. Universities such as Savannah College of Art and Design created the Business of Beauty and Fragrance, or BEAU, in partnership with L’Oréal, to offer niche specializations for students who already know what they want. Its program is primed for a market that is ready: The global cosmetic products market was valued at approximately $532 billion in 2017 and may reach $863 billion by 2024, according to data by Zion Market Research.
L’Oréal’s participation makes its program wholly unique, as students will have hands-on, real-world experience without even leaving the classroom. Carol Hamilton, group president, luxe division, L’Oréal, told WWD, “We researched the very best art and design schools where we could find creative talent that will not only be enriched by collaboration, but also want to work at L’Oréal. We found that at SCAD, and I look forward to continuing it for many years to come.”
WWD: What inspired SCAD to create a business-focused beauty and fragrance program?
Daniel Green: Our inspiration to create our BFA degree program of study in the Business of Beauty and Fragrance came from three sources. First, we recognized, in teaching a comprehensive approach to fashion marketing and brand building, the critical role played by beauty and fragrance products in creating brand identity, building long-term customer relationships and the achievement of financial goals. Second, as we began to work with beauty industry partners on collaborative projects, beauty industry leaders shared with us the need for a degree program like BEAU focused on preparing students to become the beauty and fragrance industry leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Third, our SCAD students as they selected areas of focus for the projects they were creating in class increasingly turned to projects addressing beauty and fragrance as they were inspired by the level of innovation coming from these industries. The Business of Beauty and Fragrance degree is the latest example of SCAD’s 40-year legacy in pioneering and innovative programs to help students’ success in their future creative professions.
WWD: How is the curriculum differentiated from comparable beauty and fragrance programs in higher education?
D.G.: Our approach to creative education at SCAD is structured to engage the hearts, the hands and the minds of our students at all of our global campuses. They do not merely acquire an understanding of definitions and best practices but are challenged in a hands-on environment to do what the industry does and, in doing so, discover next practices. At SCAD we develop programs of study like BEAU through a model of direct collaboration with key industry partners. For the development of our curriculum for BEAU, we worked closely with our industry partner, L’Oréal, to structure the curriculum from foundation studies to the major course curriculum and electives. The degree program empowers our students with the training they need to step into key leadership roles for beauty and fragrance and guide brands through opportunities and challenges presented by the 21st century.
In addition to laying a foundation of knowledge for beauty and fragrance product development and marketing, our students are challenged to put to work the insights they gain to create their own comprehensive projects. These projects identify and address industry voids, new product launch opportunities and brand building. In this way, BEAU is a unique degree program with a career focus for training industry professionals, disrupters and entrepreneurs.
WWD: Would you say that coursework preparing students for niche, specialized careers is a growing trend?
D.G.: As careers in the marketplace have become increasingly specialized it only makes sense for educators like SCAD to provide students with the opportunity to prepare for niche or specialized careers. We must recognize that most students do not enter college with a clear focus on a specialized career choice. One of the real advantages of a SCAD education is the cross-disciplinary approach to our degree programs allowing student exploration of numerous creative endeavors. SCAD is a hands-on learning environment that allows our students to discover by doing where they belong in a specialized career marketplace. For example, our School of Fashion allows our students to explore all aspects of the fashion industry from fashion design to business management to marketing and global brand building. Our BEAU degree program opens the door for our students to experience the world of beauty and fragrance as a career opportunity, [but] the curriculum has been structured so that students can explore this opportunity without finding themselves side-tracked to a one-way destination.
WWD: Are there any notable student trends in regard to technical skills, internships or tools for career preparation?
D.G.: At SCAD we recognize that marketing is no longer about features and benefits. Increasingly, marketing is about tapping into skills in visual storytelling to engage consumers with the aesthetics, the vision and the values that define the brand. Our students of fashion marketing are trained to develop professional skills in digital presentation techniques and the creation of digital marketing collateral (micro-movies, brand videos) to engage consumers with brands in ways that are compelling, entertaining and likely to build a community of loyal advocates. This coursework is a priority for our students entering the BEAU degree program given the importance of these practices to building share of market in the beauty and fragrance industries.
We also recognize the key role played by social media in providing a two-way street for engaging and interacting with consumers. We have incorporated training in social media management into our BEAU program of study and SCAD is now offering a new BFA degree program focused on social strategy and management. Internships play a key role in preparing SCAD students for professional careers while also providing excellent opportunities for network building. We encourage SCAD students to pursue internships in their areas of career interest and work closely with our industry partners to create opportunities for internships for our students.
WWD: What advice would you give to students selecting their major of choice?
D.G.: I would encourage students selecting their majors to see this as an opportunity to turn their passions into a degree and to turn a degree into a career. The choice of degree programs available to students has never been greater but this brings with it a need to do research and due diligence. Finding the major that is right for you may require exploring or auditing classes and scheduling meetings with faculty who are currently teaching in the discipline. Don’t hesitate to consider a change of major if the work you are doing is not inspiring you or opening doors to an exciting career path. SCAD is about preparing creative students for professional careers and the choice of major is an important step in the journey of building creative careers.
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