2 October 2022

Exclusive interview: Debra Perelman, CEO of Revlon

Estetica speaks exclusively with Debra Perelman, CEO of Revlon, about the transformations and upcoming challenges in the sector, as well as her future goals.

The beauty market has undergone big changes in the last two years, motivated by the effects of the pandemic on our social and consumer habits, Where do you think the industry is heading? 

The beauty industry has always been incredibly dynamic, and the fact that it’s ever-evolving is one of the aspects I love about it. While there were many changes over the past two years, many of the changes we saw were more of an acceleration of trends that had already been bubbling up — such as the fact that the industry is heading towards a blend of wellness and beauty, with products and formulations that do both. For example, we have been working to develop products in the makeup category that incorporate skincare benefits. Additionally, Sustainability has been an important topic for several years, but last year made all of us acutely aware that we need to do more to leave the planet in a better place. I’m proud to say that two-thirds of all the products in our innovation pipeline feature sustainable elements either as part of their formula, ingredients, and/or packaging.

In the current situation of big transformations, where is Revlon positioned as a company and what are your main goals for 2022? 

My main goals for the coming year are to continue driving the transformation of our business by leveraging the strength of our iconic brands, such as Revlon and Elizabeth Arden, expanding our digital transformation that is well underway, and making even greater leaps in having a positive impact on the world around us.

How is Revlon dealing with the global digital transformation?

When I joined as CEO of Revlon in 2018, our e-commerce sales were a small percentage of our overall business. I’m happy to say that we saw double-digit growth in e-commerce sales last quarter, on top of a very strong 2020 for e-commerce. Prior to the pandemic, we had implemented many digital innovations, which enabled us to continue to meet consumers’ expectations while physical stores were closed throughout lockdown. We’ve added digital teams, upskilled employees, and enabled more agile collaborations. We learned that our consumers were undaunted by purchasing beauty products online, so today we’re fueling a more holistic omnichannel approach, digitizing experiences in-store and personalizing experiences online.

Debbie Perelman CEO of Revlon
Debra Perelman, president and CEO of Revlon, Inc.

In 2018, you became the first female CEO in the history of Revlon, How have you faced this challenge and what is your assessment of the last three years? 

And wow — what an exciting three years it’s been! I’ve built an amazing team of some of the best and most experienced individuals in the beauty industry. I believe our team is a competitive advantage across all aspects of the business, especially in product development, sales and marketing. Our speed to market has improved from almost two years to sometimes as fast as nine months. Additionally, no one could have predicted how much the world would change — both in the macro changes brought about by Covid, and in the micro changes that we’ve seen from social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

What positive lessons have you learned from this time we have lived? 

I’ve learned that as leaders, having empathy was incredibly important, as our relationships with our employees completely changed. All of a sudden, we were in each other’s homes over videoconference, with our kids and pets in the background. One of my primary concerns during the pandemic was the health and wellbeing of our employees—not only physical health but mental health as well. We’ve held company-wide mental health forums to help our associates understand how to better deal with many of the challenges presented by the pandemic and lockdown.

This interview coincides with your visit to the company’s headquarters in Spain, where one of the main Revlon factories and the Hair Excellence Center are also located. How do you rate the work done buy this hair innovation center? 

I am so thrilled to be back in the market! One of my favorite activities as CEO is visiting our teams around the world, and this trip to Spain is my first trip in two years! I’m just so proud of all the work our teams have done. We make incredible products, including those made in our manufacturing facility in El Pla and developed in our Hair Excellence Center in Barcelona. 

How important is the professional hairdressing industry for your company? How do you see the future of the professional market? 

The Professional channel is vitally important for Revlon, particularly in the EMEA market—it’s where we can unveil high impact formulations while also taking a leadership position in the industry for our sustainability programs. Our Revlon Professional business remains strong in EMEA, with two consecutive quarters of strong net sales growth. Our Color Sublime launch has been very successful, particularly in EMEA, as consumers and hairdressers are responding to the vegan formula and reduced packaging footprint, which uses 60% less plastic and 25% less paper. This year also marks the 10-year anniversary of our UniqOne franchise, which we celebrated with a relaunch of the collection and a special anniversary edition.

How important is the hairdresser for the company?

The hairdresser is a critical partner for us in the professional ecosystem and a fundamental element for the beauty industry.

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