Much of the focus in the cosmetics business is on aesthetics. But for Sheryl Adkins-Green, chief marketing officer at Mary Kay Inc., there’s more to the beauty business than how smoothly a lipstick glides on or the lightness of a new skin crème. The true beauty shines through when makeup helps a woman feel confident and beautiful—on the inside too.
“My favorite parts are the moments when women try a product and discover a feature that they truly love about themselves. Seeing that woman’s confidence,” said the business executive who recently became part of an elite group when she named one of the top 50 most innovative female brand marketers in the nation by Brand Innovators.
The largest professional organization of brand marketers in the US, Brand Innovators lauded Adkins-Green (and 49 other female executives) for professional accomplishments and ability to leverage digital media and emerging advertising technology platforms including digital video, social media, mobile, content marketing and e-commerce to implement “best-of-breed” marketing and advertising campaigns.
Adkins-Green, who has also been recognized by Direct Selling Newsas one of ‘The Most Influential Women in Direct Selling,’ leads Mary Kay’s team that’s responsible for brand positioning, new product development, advertising, packaging and digital marketing. In addition, she oversees the creation and deployment of new technology-based marketing tools for the venerable beauty company and its 3 million independent beauty consultants who are active in 35 global markets.
Having such a wide reach can prove challenging from a marketing perspective.
“Anticipating and meeting the diverse needs and preferences of women with one portfolio is a challenge,” said Adkins-Green. But she quickly pointed out a benefit: the ability to partner with Mary Kay marketing staff in other countries.
“I can take advantage of consumer insights from around the world to get a stronger position and get the best of the best,” she said.
Mary Kay has long understood the power of trusted recommendations.
“As you think about the beauty category, women want information, they want to trust that product will work for them and that they can replicate the results. The goals women have fit well with our model,” said Adkins-Green who received a Bachelor of Science in retailing from the University of Wisconsin and holds a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
Today, Mary Kay leverages social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, “never in lieu of face to face, but as continuation and additional support,” she said, highlighting the face-to-face format put forth by company founder Mary Kay Ash.
“Social media tools are a great way for Mary Kay as a company to provide marketing information and corporate news, encouragement to sales force and at the same time, the content that the independent sales force can use to share with their customer base,” explained Adkins-Green.
These new tools enable this venerable firm to operate 24/7.
“Anytime and anywhere—people are shopping for Mary Kay and placing orders. We invest time and considerable money to support this,” she said.
For example, Mary Kay has a mobile virtual makeup tool with built-in social media features. Customers can use their own photo and customize their eye, lip and makeup colors and share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter or email. The app allows them to create shopping lists for their favorite products or buy the whole look.
“We help each woman find her own way to beauty,” she said. “Everyone wants to look like herself, only better.”
Adkins-Green, who is involved in many not-for-profit initiatives, also relishes how Mary Kay has impacted women’s lives on a deeper level, such as its work to end domestic violence. This has proved to be the most satisfying aspect of her career.
“Over time, I have come to learn and appreciate that when one’s talents and passion can be aligned with an organization’s purpose and mission—as is the case with Mary Kay–that is really is success. I have had the privilege to work at Fortune 100 and 500 corporations, had great training and professional accomplishments…And now to take all of that and put it toward a purpose that’s well aligned with my personal values—that is what I love.”
The Beauty Inside
Mary Kay CMO Sheryl Adkins-Green likes how makeup can make women feel, but she relishes the real impact the cosmetics business can have.
By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor
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