A mid-term project and an overview of 2012 focused on colour with the launch of Illumina Color. Plus services, education, new technologies. Our interviews with Sylvie Moreau and Kevin Otero, respectively General Manager and VP of Global Operations, Wella, Salon Professional Division.
What is your vision of colour?
Wella is known for our colour excellence and have the reputation of being the must-have colour for many leading colourists. Our vision is to bring Wella Color and the services salons provide to a whole new level in terms of colour results, creative possibilities and client experiences. We want to delight stylists and clients alike, by inventing products and services they dreamt of, but never thought possible! We have all seen this with Illumina Color, according to all the initial feedback, I think it really ticks all the boxes. It will be amazing for the industry. Our next big idea is a breakthrough invention in Color Services, Color ID from Wella Professionals, which will revolutionize multi tonal colour services in salons.
Is Color ID patented?
It is definitely patented. And it was a labor of love! In this case, the brief was simple: How can I put two colors next to each other without them bleeding even without using foils or separators? It took a lot of hard work, but we succeeded, with the same color results as what colorists are used to when using Koleston Perfect or Illumina Color.
What are the main trends influencing the industry today?
The first mega trend is that people are prepared to go to extremes to be beautiful. One of the fields of research we are actively working on is enabling color transformations that are not possible today (like high lift on Asian Hair). Other invention spaces are anti-thinning or delaying grey.
The other major trend is that the image we create is our social capital: people are more conscious about the way they present themselves to the world around them, especially in the digital world. It invites the industry and the stylists to go beyond hair and become identity designers, consulting on a total look and providing clients with a repertoire of personages they can be. This challenges us to work on all the digital aspects of consultation, on virtual reality, but also to develop some products to enable those on – off transformations. What if tonight I could have a peachy blond hair and tomorrow at work I could have a ashy silver sharp look? This trend also forces us to bend the way we think about time today to enable these on off transformation.
What role does service play for Wella?
Service is everything for Wella. I was a P&G Beauty manager before I joined the Wella team 5 years ago. And the biggest change in my life was when I realised that in the value chain, the role we play is relatively small compared to the role the stylists play – by investing in salons, hiring and training people, and spending the time on clients hair. Our role at Wella is to enable great services. We need to serve our partners impeccably. We need to be reliable and on time. I always say to my team, “Remember, our job is to serve great brands, products, services and programs to the sales rep and the educators in the markets, who then serve the salons, who then serve the client.” It all comes down to service.
What is the message you would give hairdressers from P&G?
I think being a hairdresser is one of the most beautiful jobs in the world. I think what stylists don’t fully realize is that hairdressing is one of the few true crafts today that are still hand-made and tailor-made to the client. Everything in our life is manufactured. Fashion is manufactured. Even cardiac surgery can now be done by computer. Hairdressers are holding gold in their hands and will so forever. You can’t replace that. You can’t put a machine who does it. You can’t de-localize it. But thanks to Hairdressers, beauty is still handmade. That makes it the most brilliant craft and the most lasting craft.
Estetica was the media partner for the “Thank you, Mom” campaign at the Olympics and the Illumina color launch. An overview of this experience?
Having Estetica and Wella partner was obvious, as Estetica is the biggest network globally, recognised and present everywhere, like Wella is. The “Thank you, Mom” project during the Olympics was an amazing adventure. The programme itself was a great idea, only further enhanced by thanking moms and having stylists present at the games, celebrating the Heroes behind the Heroes. The fact that Estetica was there in London live, working side by side with our team in the Wella studio, made it really felt like one team in London. It was just magical. It was awesome.
How would you assess 2012 so far for Wella and the industry?
So far 2012 looks like a tough year economically for some of our salon partners. We started implementing a salon client study in 2009, where we cover a panel in nine countries. We look at the number of services being done, number of clients visiting salons, what types of services are most popular and similar. The reading we did in May 2012 showed female client visits in total decreased in eight of the nine countries we monitor, with the exception of UK. The other eight countries we monitor are Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, and the US. Because women are the biggest consumers of salon services, it has also impacted some of the key service areas, like color which was also down in all the countries, except the UK. There were even couple that were impacted quite significantly – Greece with a decrease of 11% on color services, and Spain with a decrease of 14%. This is obviously a worrying sign for the industry in those countries, but we also see this as an opportunity to support our salons and help them grow even in tough times. We have many great strengths right now in our color portfolio. It couldn’t be a better time for us to be introducing Illumina Color, because it’s offering salons an opportunity to offset some of these difficulties with a new premium service. Early feedback is that salons with Illumina Color are bucking the negative trend. We are also doing very well, as our fiscal year started in July and we’ve been growing in most regions or, more specifically, 16 of the top 20 of our countries. So we’re off to a good start and quite excited about the prospects for 2013. Our timing has been good for the industry and our salon partners.
Education is a very important aspect of P&G Salon Professional, and let’s say it’s the key of the industry. What has been developed with Wella for the future of education?
Education is really the cornerstone of the industry. It’s what allows stylists to charge the service prices that they do. It’s what makes the difference between a tube of color being 7 Euros and the service being 70 Euros. So education is very important. It’s an area we recognize as strategic, continue to invest in and have made a big progress in. This is why we brought a new global leader – Michelle Mason – and we’ve been investing significantly in other resources to continue to develop in that area. I’m very happy that we have a new Dean of the Education Academy to build the curriculum for our internal education staff and our stylist partners – Stephen Moody from Sassoon – and John Guest, who also has quite a long experience with Sassoon has joined us as well to develop color skills in India and Singapore and other areas in Asia. So we’re excited about the top talents we’ve been attracting to help build the skills of our own people, as well as our stylists.
We’re also continuing to invest in the evolution of other educational support. This year three of our studios were renovated and improved. We upgraded the Studio in Berlin and the Studio in Milan, and we added a new Studio in India, in Delhi. All of these have the latest and greatest interactive learning technologies, for presenting techniques in new, engaging ways and for allowing collaboration. We can now bring in people from other parts of the globe, they can potentially participate, and information and pictures from the class can all be shared on portals afterwards.
What about other digital innovations?
It’s exciting to see how the digital aspect of education is changing for us. We started by trying new technologies to help educate our own organization with technology by deploying iPads. This brought with it the introduction of several education tools as well, all of which are interactive and allow participants to be able to go in and test themselves and learn interactively at their own pace. They can start it and stop it at different times, so they can do it when they have free time. We now have 3500 active users and we’ve done 10,000 color seminars over the past year. Color is by far one of the areas in high demand, and we’re excited to see the impact this program has on customer feedbacks. One of the things our customers are saying is that they truly appreciate how our sales reps and educators are able to talk eye-to-eye with them about color and be best partners in the industry. That was our main objective: making our people well-equipped and knowledgeable partners to our stylists.
What do you see in the future for iPads and apps.
The iPads have several applications on them to help them better serve our partners and customers. This is something we started as a pilot in Germany last year with interactive educational components. We knew that it would allow us to touch more people more quickly. We have now started to roll out other applications: iKnow, which helps them understand everything about their customer; iVisit, which helps them plan their visits across all the different customers in their section to make sure they give the right service. It also allows for interactivity between educators and the sales staff. So if the educator is in and the customer asks them to follow up on an area in color, they can put a message in directly to the sales person so they can get interactively involved in that customer list – which is really cool. We have also created a new electronic ordering tool called iOrder. This is again offering better accuracy in getting what the customer ordered and it’s saving our sales reps time, so they can spend more time on business collaboration. In fact, when we deployed the new iOrder tool in Germany, it saved 33 minutes a day for the sales reps. We’re continuing to expand it now in the US, in China and we’re working on getting it out to our entire organisation by mid-2013. Our customers are telling us they like the videos and the interactivity that comes from the iPad presentation. They like the fact our sales reps can answer any question they have and have everything they need virtually at their fingertips. It’s been a real enhancement and it’s great to see how it’s changing the industry and creating new ways of being a better partner.
How will innovation in education continue next year. What are your goals for 2013?
We’re going to continue to invest in education in 2013 as well. There are some areas where education is going to play a tremendously big role. The new Color ID service is going to require a whole set of new techniques and also, as stylists start to get their hands on it, they’ll probably be inventing new ways of approaching and applying the new service. Right now they’ve got their hands full with classes on Illumina Color. There is huge demand for our Illumina classes and our education folks have to build extra capacity to keep up with this demand. In Germany, they’re now doing sessions in the morning and in the evening to keep up with the current demand.
Is there any special message you would like to send out to the hairdressers all over the world?
I think one of the most exciting things is that everything has started to come together. We’re at a point when I really feel we’re running on all cylinders very effectively. And I think we’re the best full-service partner for our customers because we are so focused on helping to meet our partners’ total needs. We’ve got an outstanding portfolio of brands that works across the different price tiers. We’re able to help them maximize their business, appealing to as many clients as they possibly can, not only across pricing, but also in consideration of lifestyle and attitude and other dimensions as well. We’re really committed to leading in the trend area as well. We’re continuing to extend how a salon can commercialize trends with the pret-a-porter collections we have this year. This means that we bring inspiration. We’ve been investing very heavily in building our sales and education knowledge, as we want to be the best partner for our customers.