An exclusive interview with Wella’s top Management Sylvie Moreau, Wella Vice President and Patrice Louvet, P&G Beauty Global Group President.
Sylvie Moreau: “Color will always be at the core of Wella, because this is where our heart started beating.”
Sylvie Moreau joined P&G in January 1994 and held a variety of positions, spanning across product and services innovation, brand building and business operations. Sylvie has spent the last 7 years in Wella and currently holds the role of Global Executive Vice President. She is responsible for global Wella operations, as well as all aspects of the brand’s strategy, including innovation, marketing and communication in and outside of salons.
- Wella is celebrating an anniversary, a prestigious achievement but also a responsibility. What does this mean for a company that continues to look towards the future and technological innovation?
- “2015 is a big year for Wella as we celebrate our 135th anniversary! Back in 1880, when Franz Ströher founded the company as a young stylist, I don’t think he would have ever dreamed it will turn into the globally successful leader that it is today – let alone become such a huge Wella family of hairdressers around the world. We are so proud of what Wella has brought and continues to bring to the industry. For example, being the first company to support the hairdressing community with education, or establishing the first “full service” business model. And of course its groundbreaking innovations, like the perm or the first permanent cream color. But as you say, it’s a huge legacy and such a big responsibility. This legacy can only act as the compass, a beacon, leading us to what’s next. We need to continue to be true to who we are – a flagship that propels the industry forward. That’s what we’ve done over the past 135 years and that’s what we need to carry on doing in the future. So more commitment to the industry, more inventions and more creative solutions to support the business growth of our salon partners.”
Could you re-cap the main steps of color innovation for Wella over the past three years?
“We’ve had an unprecedented stream of color innovation in recent years, geared towards helping stylists and salon owners to delight their clients and to grow their business, even through a tough economic climate. Illumina Color, which we launched in September 2012, was a breakthrough solution to give great color results with a new angle on luminosity and “hair lit from within”. This was the first big step. Our second step was our invention for a more creative color process – Color.id – with just one simple additive which allows colorists to put one color next to another without bleeding and without need for separators, like foils. This innovation enables colorists to work with a completely free-flowing technique, unleashing their creativity and making the color process more intuitive and fun. Then, in January 2013, we launched Koleston Perfect Innosense, with a revolutionary new dye molecule, which since its launch has been globally awarded by beauty and science. Innosense with the ME+ new dye is formulated to reduce the risk of developing allergies, making it truly the color of the future. We started by putting the molecule into Koleston Perfect Innosense, but this dye will be a very important platform for our color innovations in the future. Then most recently, we launched Instamatic by Color Touch, with the trendy Instagram filters effect on hair. This matte-gloss finish is available in six trendy shades, which allow you to accessorize your color either as an add-on or as a fashion twist for clients who want to have fun with color.”
This is the past. Now what are the assets that Wella will focus on over the next three years? Will color remain the main focus?
“Color will always be at the core of Wella, because this is where our heart started beating. What’s important now is that we consolidate all the great innovations that we have brought to the market in the past 3 years, allowing them to make a meaningful difference for colorists who want to express their mastery, but also for salon owners who want to grow their business. So that’s why over the coming months, we will consolidate these great tools and the whole Wella Professionals color portfolio behind a new service platform that truly creates value in the industry: Couture Color. Like in fashion, where Couture is the most bespoke, tailored-to-the-client wardrobe you can get, Wella Couture Color services, allow you to create a personalised color just suited to you, and that’s what salon clients want and are prepared to pay for. Offering the product solutions that allow colorists to really give a bespoke color to clients, coupled with a better tailored consultation and high technical mastery of the colorist, can really create value for the industry. Now moving forward, there are a lot of things in the making in the Wella Labs based on the major inventions that our formulators have in the drawer and you’ll keep hearing from us on color for sure. Care and Styling is a big area of focus for us. You’ve seen the launch of Elements, a very powerful yet “free of” line from Wella Professionals, and the new Styling line EIMI. We’re going to keep innovating on Sebastian, Nioxin, System Professional, so you’ll keep hearing news on all the fronts from us!”
Will there be some news in the future for SP?
“System Professional has been doing very well in recent years with Luxe Oil premium line being particularly successful. We see System Professional as our most prestigious care brand, so this creates a very high and challenging benchmark. We are working very hard to be sure it remains a blockbuster and salons continue to be super successful with System Professional. So there’s a lot of design and strategic work being done on that as well.”
I love Sebastian, as do many of my colleagues. Why is it not talked about so much? Will it remain so exclusive in the future?
“We see Sebastian as a prestige styling brand choice for the salon that wants to set itself apart. We want to protect the brand and to keep it very exclusive and high end, to prevent it from being diluted. We are very precise in our distribution strategies and choice of salon partners in Europe to be sure that the brand is cherished in the salon. Also our communication plan is highly selective and interactive, very profound conversation, like in a small tribe. On Sebastian digital and social media play a big role, as well as exclusive events, like the Eclipse event in Copenhagen on March 20th. You also saw that at Hairworld in Frankfurt or at Monaco Trend Vision event Sebastian had a very prominent space, but showcased in a very Sebastian way. Each of our brands has its voice in the portfolio and we are aiming to keep it that way.”
You announced Paul Serville as Ambassador for Business Education. Would you care to comment?
“We feel very proud of our ambassadors from a creative standpoint. Every brand has their own – Josh and Eugene for Wella Professionals, Michael and Shay for Sebastian, and of course the Sassoon Academy and Creative Team, just to name a few. But we also realise that this industry is the yin and yang between creativity and business. We have been championing business education through seminars for a long time. I’m very proud that we have now extended our Ambassador program to the yang of the industry, to the business side, with someone, like Paul Serville. Paul has created a breakthrough program, a 3-day course, that really makes a difference to the salon business. Paul is also a very creative guy, and he has actually managed very successfully to combine the two aspects of the left brain and the right brain. That’s why he was the perfect choice to stay in the flow of our creative, editorial line, but then also bring something to the industry that is so meaningful and will make such a difference to our training program. It’s going to be the crème de la crème of our business education curriculum. Our business education however happens every day and starts with all our sales consultants and educators in the field who are able to audit the salon and then provide tailored solutions to grow their business.”
Will Wella Trend Vision continue or not?
“Sure! We have already announced that we will gather the Wella Family for International Trend Vision Award 2015 in Berlin in November. Trend Vision is a very inspiring program. It’s one of the biggest hair competitions in the world, referred to as “Hair Oscars” by our hairdressers. We continue reinventing events to keep inspiring our creative talent and stay fresh and contemporary. You probably noticed a change last season, when we made sure that the event was not just the Wella Professionals brand, but the whole Wella Portfolio of 6 iconic brands hosting these events. When Franz Ströher started the company, he actually went to Paris to study fashion as a source of inspiration for hairdressing. Fashion and trends have been with us from the start and we should and we will continue.”
Patrice Louvet: “We have practically re-launched all of our flagship brands to better suit the needs of hairdressers”
Patrice Louvet is a native of France and has been with P&G for over 25 years in a variety of geographies across Europe, Asia and NA. His extensive experience spreads across several beauty categories, which has earned him the Global Group President role for P&G’s Beauty Sector. Prior to adding Wella and Global Beauty to his scope, he was responsible for P&G’s Gillette and Fine Fragrance business.
Mr. Louvet, you have recently taken on the Global Group President role for P&G Beauty, which includes Wella, the Salon Professional division. How do you find your new role?
“I am honored and energized to lead P&G Beauty. I have spent the majority of my career so far working across our various Beauty businesses. Coming back after 4 years leading P&G Grooming, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead our entire Beauty division. This is an exciting and dynamic industry, driven by inspiration, innovation, experience and performance. I look forward to working with all of our P&G Beauty colleagues around the world to enable P&G Beauty to consistently win with consumers and customers, creating superior value.”
Prior to this role, you led P&G’s global Grooming business that mostly targets men and includes Gillette as well as Art of Shaving. What insights into male grooming trends are you bringing to your new role?
“One of the strongest and most relevant trends that comes to mind is male involvement in hair and skin care and their increased interest in self-expression. Men increasingly are taking more active roles in their grooming routines. Research shows that 89% of men believe good grooming is essential for professional success, and 70% of Western European men make their own grooming purchases, so these guys are personally invested in their routine. For example, we see many men using facial hair grooming as a tool for self-expression, as well as styling or color products and services. While men typically are less engaged with beauty, the segment of men who are beauty engaged is evolving well and points to strong potential for salon growth in this segment. The male-focused hair care and styling category is growing worldwide – by as much as 25% annually in China, for example. It will be important for salons to drive frequency from men by delivering engaging services and appealing experiences, as well as through convenient location positioning to drive traffic. Retail sales of salon professional products to men also will be a strong growth area: retail penetration among men for Salon Professional products is showing strong growth at index 122, pointing to opportunities to support men’s growing desire to seek premium solutions for their hair care and styling needs by offering a greater variety of products and services oriented specifically toward men across all salon tiers. We are well-positioned to win in that area, with brands like Nioxin, Sebastian or System Professional Men.”
You have also spent several years leading P&G’s global Prestige Beauty business, which largely consists of fashion fragrances, such as Boss, Gucci, Stella McCartney and alike. What has this experience taught you?
“Perhaps the greatest learning from my Prestige experience is that, in spite of the impact of the global recession, the desire for premium solutions prevails – but the sale goes to the best service and the most unique proposition. This provides salons with an opportunity to promote their expertise and services to people who are looking for premium-quality solutions coupled with a desire for an indulgent experience. As a result, salons that are able to differentiate themselves from the competition will be poised to win. Value-added services will continue to provide a means of driving the overall value of the salon experience for consumers, while also driving sales. Premium and Prestige salons, in particular, will have new opportunities to communicate their unique offerings in terms of products, services, and expertise to a widening pool of potential clients. We’ve seen time and time again that consumers are willing to pay more for premium solutions that deliver superior results and experiences, such as Nioxin and its treatments or our Couture Color service, for example.The expertise of the stylist, both in craft and in consultation, presents a crucial selling point for the Salon industry, particularly for consumers who can be persuaded to pay more for the confidence inspired by the services of an expert’s knowing hands. Seizing opportunities to modernise the salon consultation experience – through integration of technology, rather than via traditional analog tools – will help to further professionalize the salon experience in the eyes of clients who are seeking best-in-class solutions and insights for their holistic beauty concerns.”
How do you assess the hairdressing industry within beauty?
“The hairdressing industry has changed tremendously in the past decade and I think Wella played a pivotal role in bringing it from backstage to frontstage by elevating the industry and craft of the Hairdresser. Today, hairdressing is viewed as the high end of the Beauty industry. The best proof of that is the number of beauty pages dedicated to hairdressing and hair in top tier beauty media. We are continuing to set new horizons for the industry. Again, a great example of that is the new Couture Color concept introduced in salons this year. We are putting hairdressing under the spotlight, celebrating the craft, expertise and creativity of colorists, helping them to unleash their full potential: from cook to chef, from tailor to couturier.”
What is your vision for Wella and P&G Beauty?
“Wella is an amazing brand. You must have noticed that Wella has always been a unique business that lives and breathes by its own rules, based on innovation in products and services, constant inspiration for hairdressers and “360” business support for salons. The vision for Wella remains the same – continue leading the industry as it has for the last 135 years, supporting it with the most ground breaking innovation, inspiring and developing the global Wella family of hairdressers.”
There seem to be some rumors about Wella’s future within P&G. What can you tell us about that?
“I will not comment on any rumors or speculation. We are fully focused on making sure that Wella continues to be the strongest proposition on the global professional market. Our Global Business Ambassador Paul Serville says: “What got you here will not get you there” – and he’s right! Strategic development of the brand as well as new, innovative ways of growing and prospering together with our partners – Wella salons – is top of mind for my whole team: from brand development to service reinvention, from education transformation to innovation step change.”
What can we expect from Wella in the years to come?
“You’ve seen what a huge leap Wella has made in the past few years. We have practically re-launched all of our flagship brands to better suit the needs of hairdressers and, importantly, to grow their business. I am incredibly proud of the Wella team for bringing this to fruition. You can expect more of the same leadership behavior to come. The team is focused on driving innovation and growth, helping to guide salons to success and to propel hairdressers to new possibilities.”