Recently, women have ascended to top-level roles in the mass market industry.
On the retail side, the roster of female leaders includes Heyward Donigan (Rite Aid), Roz Brewer (Walgreens), Karen Lynch (CVS Health), Christina Hennington (Target), Michelle Gass (Kohl’s) and recently Maly Bernstein (Bluemercury).
More beauty brands are also piloted by women in top roles, such as Debra Perelman at Revlon, Coty’s Sue Nabi and Alex Keith of Procter & Gamble. Many emerging indie brands have women founders as well.
Here, DSN questioned several female beauty industry leaders in the mass beauty world to discuss how their businesses have adapted over the past year, what’s ahead and how being a woman has been beneficial to understanding their primary consumer.
The virtual panel included:
- Nancy Duitch, chief strategy officer at CURE Pharmaceutical and founder and CEO of Sera Labs;
- Psyche Terry, founder of Urban Hydration;
- Yamit Sadok, senior director of marketing at Twinlab, maker of Reserveage;
- Donda Mullis, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Raw Sugar Living;
- Rochelle Graham-Campbell, founder of Alikay Naturals, HER by Alikay Naturals;
- Shannon Curtin, CEO of New World Natural Brands;
- Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of Peach & Lily; and
- Sonia Summers, founder and CEO of Beauty Barrage and founder and CEO of Shielded Beauty.
DSN: There are more women with top spots at retailers now, and as a woman leader, what do you see as synergies since so many shoppers are women?
Yoon: Oh, it’s everything. It’s so fundamental to be able to relate to your end consumer in every way. There’s data and then there’s truly understanding their thought process and life events, such as pregnancy as an example. Major life events can profoundly impact how you contemplate products and what you look for. I don’t take it as a foregone conclusion that every retailer truly and deeply understands their shopper.
Summers: When I started in the industry, I used to wonder why most of the senior management were male. I love how it has changed. I think the synergies we are seeing come in the form of new product development — women know what women want, right? A great example is the sexual wellness and the menopausal categories. I also see it in the package design and what we like to display, ease of use and of course sustainably. Last but not least, we market and communicate with the consumer.
Terry: As a female founder and CEO in the beauty industry, I strive to be a “better maker” in my work. Urban Hydration was founded to create better products for dry skin and hair with more transparent ingredients. I think these fundamental values continue to be key to women shopping today, maybe even more so given the current situation with COVID-19. Women are actively seeking to support female-founded brands, but also brands that align with their core values, which is very important to Urban Hydration. With the focus on brands that are ethical and offering clean products with good-for-you ingredients, now more than ever it’s important that Urban Hydration is able to remain accessible and available to these women and their families.
Duitch: As a women-owned company, we feel that we can relate to our female consumers best because we have gone through all the same problems and issues that they have. The fact is that we have the empathy and understanding as to what our customers are looking for; therefore, we have a better chance at delivering what they want and need.
We also know it’s critical to develop relationships with our customers. Our diverse marketing team consists of a variety of age ranges as well as those coming from different backgrounds. We understand what a 20-year-old wants, differs from a more mature consumer. Then the strategy is how do we market to multiple demographics, which our team excels at. The critical component for us is to make sure that when our consumer makes a purchase, they continue to reorder, and you can only be successful by delivering products that yield results and are solution oriented.
DSN: What are your goals for 2022? Will supply chain issues carry over into the next year?
Mullis: On the supply chain side, we have created accurate 12-month forecasts, which help us to anticipate potential roadblocks and plan accordingly. We invest a lot of time into being able to more accurately predict the right amount of on-hand stock and purchase order limits so that our supply chain is always at optimal levels. We have diversified our vendors, knowing sometimes that our plan B might need to become our A game.
Curtin: If you are in business, you have supply chain issues. And yes, they will carry over in 2022. We plan to grow again next year, and as such we have taken our supply chain challenges into account for next year. The cost of the increases we have experienced and time to produce is still twice as long as pre-COVID. My advice to those in the budgeting process: It will take longer and cost more in 2022, so be mindful of these facts in order to honor your commitments to your partners.