The 2011 graduating class of the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree program in Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing and Management at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) tackled the trends, technologies and customer needs of the beauty industry. Each year, students in the Capstone presentation program, now in its eleventh year, research and forecast growth concepts within a specific area of the beauty industry. This year’s presentation, held last month at FIT’s Haft Auditorium, focused on Beauty For All: Innovations in Mass Retail.
The theme, which consisted of three presentations, addressed Prestige, Naturals and Cosmeceuticals, and Bridging Beauty and Fashion Students looked at the links between categories, crossover possibilities, and leveraging trends for consumer satisfaction. Beauty For All: Innovations in Mass Retail was sponsored by Target, which provided support for the students in their educational research and experience. Throughout the semester, executives from Target challenged the FIT graduate students to research trends and customer needs in a variety of industries and demonstrate how they could be applied to mass beauty.
Steve Mormoris, Sr. Vice President, Global Marketing-Beauty, Coty, Inc.; Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology; Stephan Kanlian, Chair, FIT Master’s Program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management.
The result was an indication of how the students utilized new merchandising and retailing concepts, including luxury market presentations, as well as the burgeoning wellness culture, to creatively capture the nature of today’s marketplace. FIT’s Master’s Degree program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management is an industry-focused graduate business degree program for midlevel working professionals, and also serves as a think tank for the cosmetics and fragrance industries. A stellar faculty of both academics and industry professionals provide pedagogic balance and industry expertise for the program.
Laurie Lam, chairperson, MPS Alumni Association, director of marketing, L’Oréal Professionel, acknowledged her pleasure in being part of an industry think tank, the inspiration for which began when she was a student in the MPS program at FIT.
Graduates with Dr. Brooke Carlson, left to right, Lindsay Novellano, Pei Wong, Anahita Mekanik, Davin Homsey, Evelyn Lu, and Dr. Brooke Carlson, Prof. Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management.
“The Think Tank at FIT is the heart of the program, with research, predictions, recommendations and ideas, central to its core,” said Lam. She discussed student initiatives including the study of luxury concepts, authenticity, and localization, citing former students’ experiences in China, as well as the importance of heritage and innovation, and a global study of the luxury consumer.
Further, she elaborated on the themes of wellness and sustainability, and the evening’s major subject, how to utilize prestige trends in mass retail. Lam discussed the importance in today’s market of Twitter and social media strategies, addressed re-branding strategies, and noted the place of inspiration in changing the face of the industry today.
“Sometimes Capstone is about trends and ideas and sometimes it’s about inspiration,” said Lam, citing the theme of the 2010 graduates, who developed a vision for the future of leadership in the year 2020, called inc@the beauty company of 2020. This concept promoted community, agility, and sustainability in the workplace, focusing on a people-centric culture. Inspired by this concept, Repêchage built an entirely new office environment with shared, flexible, mobile workspaces, with executives centrally located around the activities of each department. The company experienced a nearly 110% increase in their sales turnover compared to the prior year, attributing much of this success to the new office concept and “tribal culture
Stephanie Dishart, left, winner of the Outstanding Scholar Award, with Dr. Brooke Carlson.
Dr. Joyce Brown, president, FIT, acknowledged the accomplishments of the students, noting that the 170 program alumni, including this year’s graduates, have had and will continue to have great success in the industry. More than 30 have reached the VP level at L’Oréal, Bare Escentuals, Coty and other companies. Brown said the program helps to create and shape forward looking programs, links industry and academia, and also collaborates with professional organizations in the industry, including The Fragrance Foundation.
According to Will Setliff, VP-marketing, Target, this year’s program has contributed its thinking to remodeling the beauty shopping experience, drawing on wellness trends, fashion and beauty alignments, and the value proposition that drives the industry
Enticing the Consumer
Students offered suggestions for consumer enticement drawing on the prestige environment, the popularity of wellness and sustainability, and the link between beauty and fashion. Foremost was the importance of connectivity with students emphasizing the need to offer beauty customers curated assortments, in seasonal environments, that make shopping in store convenient and interesting. A prestige-type experience could be enhanced with personalized experiences at the counter, including access to an iPad virtual system to try different makeup looks, and to browse related offerings. In addition, beauty events, like Fashion’s Night Out, might inspire a First Friday event, offering specific makeup collections; or pop up stores, and beauty and fashion partnerships on HSN, for example.
In the area of wellness, students noted the need for simple solutions, a wellness authority, and the potential for a total diagnostic experience at retail. This space could provide skin care products, diet and supplement products and suggestions, a beauty bar, with rotating services and brands each month. This could build credibility through education and product selection in a specialized, yet mass environment. Students also suggested that these wellness centers could offer products by theme, for example, energizing shampoos, moisturizers, and fragrance, to convey a specific product’s purpose and address consumer need. Wellness, maintained the students, should not be “eco-babble,” but more about the conscious consumption of products and lifestyle choices that make consumers feel good. They offered the concept of “Swellness,” a wellness solution approach that would enable mass retailers to become wellness authorities, bringing back the feel good factor for consumers.
Students noted that consumers are in control today, and that retailers must be everywhere to connect with them.
Jane Hertzmark Hurdis and Dr. Brooke Carlson
“Neuro-emotional connectivity is the key to offering prestige value in the mass environment,” said presenters, and product assortments must reflect the interests and emotions of a fast-paced consumer environment.
Jane Hertzmark Hudis, global brand President, Estée Lauder, who presented the Faculty Leadership Award, to Dr. Brooke Carlson, Assistant Professor, Cosmetic and Fragrance Marketing and Management, said, “The hero product becomes the engine that energizes the brand.” Her comment reiterated the student’s emphasis on selling emotion and heritage to connect with consumers.
The students concluded that prestige and mass can co-exist in the right environment, by engaging the consumer with customized initiatives, relevant promotions, and personalized product options. Whether virtual beauty stylists, digital connectivity, or wellness centers for everyone, building bridges of connectivity remains key to the mass environment.
Stephan Kanlian, chairperson, FIT Master’s Program, presided over the Graduation Awards ceremony, following the Capstone presentation, which included the presentation of special awards to students and faculty. Dr. Brooke Carlson, assistant professor, FIT Master’s program, presented the Scholarship Awards to six students who had maintained an average of 3.9 or above. Shashi Batra, president, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, congratulated the class of 2011 and presented the Victoria’s Secret Beauty Award for Outstanding Leadership, to Kadi Thompson. Janet Hertzmark Hudis, global brand president, Estée Lauder, presented the Lauder Companies Faculty Leadership Award to Dr. Brooke Carlson, and Professor Stephan Kanlian presented the Department Medal Award to L’Oreal’s Stephanie Dishart.
Additional information about the Master’s Degree Program in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management may be found at: www.fitnyc.edu.