Features

‘Miles’ A Minute

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | March 5, 2014

TSG Consumer Partners’ Diane Miles—a former CEO of Perricone MD and Benefit Cosmetics—discusses lessons learned in the fast-paced beauty business

There’s been a lot of change in the beauty industry since Diane Miles stepped off a plane from London arriving in the US some 13 years ago to serve as marketing director for luxury brand Christian Dior.

Just think of the retail landscape alone.

“I was surprised by how department stores dominated the prestige beauty industry, but how limited the shopping experience was,” she told Happi in a phone interview last month.

Today, prestige beauty retail has changed significantly. Sure, women still visit the department store counter, but in 2014, they are just as likely to shop from the comfort of their couches thanks to QVC and HSN, on their laptops and mobile devices, and in open-sell environments like Sephora.

Miles, who has more than 25 years of experience in building skin care and cosmetic brands, has been at the helm of many companies that have made their mark in the beauty sector. Today she is an operating partner at investment firm TSG Consumer Partners. She serves as an advisor to the beauty brands in TSG’s portfolio—Alterna, IT Cosmetics, Kenra and Sexy Hair, among others.

The Miles’ resume also includes serving as CEO of Perricone MD (another TSG investment) and Benefit Cosmetics, and president of Bare Escentuals.

“All three of these brands have taught me how to grow a beauty business fast and gain market share,” said Miles. “When working with private equity, like at Perricone and Bare Escentuals, it is extremely important to focus on both the top and bottom lines. Many organizations, particularly larger ones, prioritize gaining market share, but when working in private equity, it is essential to also focus on profit and cash flow.”

According to Miles, there are two key aspects to success in the beauty business: building a great team and placing an emphasis on product development and innovation.

“You need to have the right people beside you, and in an increasingly competitive industry, you can never spend enough time on innovation,” she said.

Miles—who pointed to R&D-driven advances like gel formulations in color cosmetics and the evolution of silicone technology in hair care—places a premium on innovation.

“In beauty in particular, my experience has been unless you can innovate with 15-20% of business coming from new technology or new launches, it is very easy to lose market share.”

The British native suggests that companies get behind hero SKUs.

“Focus on one big idea or one big product,” she said. “That big idea will be your differentiator.”

But according to Miles, “many start-ups or beauty leaders don’t think about their point of differentiation, and in a very crowded environment it is critical to stand out. Think about what makes your product different: is it how you market it? The product itself? The channel in which it is sold? Find out and use it to answer the age-old question: why should consumers buy it?”

This is an issue even in the hottest sector of the beauty world: anti-aging.

“There are so many different products all claiming the same thing. The fragmentation of the anti-aging market is making it almost impossible for consumers to wade through,” according to Miles, who sees an opportunity for a smart company that can “demystify” the cluttered category.

“There is room for a company who can attack that in a simple way that is really credible,” she said.

For Miles, success in the beauty business comes from more than sound strategy alone.

“My biggest lesson has been that it is not just about strategy, it’s also about execution and it is necessary to balance both,” she said. “Many CEOs are great strategists but they don’t spend enough time making sure execution is impeccable. I’ve strived to place equal emphasis on both.”
  • Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    Patent Activity: Colgate-Palmolive

    December 6, 2016
    New oral care compositions, the use of radish root ferment filtrate in a cleanser and more.

  • Sparkle & Shine

    Sparkle & Shine

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    Glam packaging and upscale scent combos are big at Yankee Candle for Holiday 2016.

  • Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Cos Bar: Turning 40 and Hitting Fast Forward

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 21, 2016
    With a recent investor infusion, a new CEO and rebranding effort underway, this luxury beauty retailer has big plans.

  • The World Comes to Orlando

    The World Comes to Orlando

    Tom Branna , Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    More than 1,600 chemists traveled to Florida for the IFSCC Congress

  • The Plex  Phenomenon

    The Plex Phenomenon

    Denise Costrini, Croda North America||December 1, 2016
    Croda details the hair-protecting qualities of bond multipliers and the company’s new bond-building formulation system.


  • Hair & Now

    Hair & Now

    Melissa Meisel , Associate Editor ||December 1, 2016
    The shampoo and conditioner category is expanding with modern takes on these classic formulations.

  • Perform or Perish

    Perform or Perish

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||December 1, 2016
    Success in today’s skin care sector begins with active ingredients, formulated in products that address modern-day issues.

  • Slow & Steady

    Slow & Steady

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||December 1, 2016
    In a tumultuous environment, steady gains posted in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector are welcomed.

  • Aromas Revealed: Fragrance Disclosure

    Aromas Revealed: Fragrance Disclosure

    Daniel Greenberg, Agilex Fragrances||November 2, 2016
    Fragrance disclosure is a potentially dangerous issue.

  • New and Noteworthy:  Fine Fragrance Roundup  for Fall 2016

    New and Noteworthy: Fine Fragrance Roundup for Fall 2016

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 2, 2016
    Check out the latest launches in fragrance this season.

  • Soap Opera

    Soap Opera

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||November 2, 2016
    FDA’s recent antibacterial ruling has soap sector stakeholders scrambling to keep some ingredients in their formulation kit.

  • New Ingredients for  Household Cleaners

    New Ingredients for Household Cleaners

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||November 2, 2016
    Here are ingredients introduced by suppliers during the past 12 months.

  • Clean It Up

    Clean It Up

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||November 2, 2016
    The home care industry takes a hard look at itself and the changing world it competes in.

  • A-Okay!

    A-Okay!

    Imogen Matthews, For In-Cosmetics||November 2, 2016
    K-Beauty influences cosmetic development around the world.

  • Shine On

    Shine On

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||November 2, 2016
    Oral care products are rising to the task with innovative components.

  • Next Gen  Antiseptics

    Next Gen Antiseptics

    Emily Kalal and Katherine S. Maka, RITA Corporation||November 2, 2016
    RITA researchers detail the benefits of 0.75% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) antiseptic handwash

  • Change Is in the Air

    Change Is in the Air

    Doreen Wang, BrandZ ||October 3, 2016
    Technology is changing the personal care market

  • Skin Care of One’s Own

    Skin Care of One’s Own

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 3, 2016
    Nu Skin’s ageLOC Me—which melds the worlds of smart-phone technology, efficacious ingredients and personalization

  • Proof Positive

    Proof Positive

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||October 3, 2016
    Testing service providers enable companies to back up their claims and stay in compliance with regulations.

  • Contract Manufacturing / Private Label Directory

    Contract Manufacturing / Private Label Directory

    October 1, 2016
    Our directory is your source to find a manufacturer to get your product to market.

  • Back to School

    Back to School

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director||September 1, 2016
    It may be September, but class was in session this summer during the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Executive Educ

  • A Sweet-Smelling Sanctuary

    A Sweet-Smelling Sanctuary

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||September 1, 2016
    Home fragrance is enhanced by aromatic developments in delivery and components.

  • How Green Is Your Surfactant?

    How Green Is Your Surfactant?

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director ||September 1, 2016
    Suppliers offer a range of solutions to help household and personal care product formulators develop formulas

  • New Surfactants

    Tom Branna, Editorial Director ||September 1, 2016
    Here’s a list of new ingredients introduced by surfactant suppliers

  • What

    What's In Your Formula?

    Christine Esposito, Associate Editor||September 1, 2016
    A look at the ingredients beauty brands are using to fuel their formulations and capture consumers’ attention.

  • The International Top 30 Household and Personal Products Companies

  • Special Effects

    Special Effects

    Melissa Meisel, Associate Editor||August 1, 2016
    Fall 2016 color cosmetics reflect light and offer a focus on elements like pigment, slip and wear.