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24 Sep

How L’Oréal’s Nathalie Gerschtein Drives Beauty’s Biggest Brands –

How L’Oréal’s Nathalie Gerschtein Drives Beauty’s Biggest Brands –

Nathalie Gerschtein’s 21-year profession has spanned geographies, categories and types.

She spent nine years in Europe to work in product management for L’Oréal Paris, before heading to India to helm brands like L’Oréal Paris and Garnier. Then it was on to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, where she eventually became the chief executive officer of that division of L’Oréal.

Now five years into her role as president of L’Oréal USA’s consumer products division, the cultural chameleon feels right at home.

“Once we arrived, my daughter was 3 years old, and now she’s 8 and fully acclimated. She even loves bagels,” said Gerschtein, during a wide-ranging interview at L’Oréal’s Hudson Yards headquarters. Gerschtein laughingly shared she even thinks about her family’s Halloween costumes two months upfront. “There are a whole lot of traditions within the U.S. that are supposed to put people together,” she said. “And I discovered that actually great.”

Pulling people together is top of mind for Gerschtein, who said her division’s imperative is to “democratize the perfect of beauty for every one within the U.S. and North America.”

To this point, she’s hitting her goal. Overall, the Consumer Products Division, which encompasses L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline Recent York, Garnier and Nyx Skilled Makeup, posted record like-for-like sales growth of 15 percent to greater than 7 billion euros for the primary half of the yr on a world basis. The corporate said consumer products had grown by double digits and outpaced the market in hair care and skincare, while momentum “remained high” in makeup.

In accordance with Circana data, the mass channel within the U.S., grew 9 percent, with L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline Recent York and Garnier occupying the highest, third and fifth spots out there, respectively.

“Overall, mass beauty is prospering. The role that mass has inside our assortment is supporting that differentiation in product offering that we have now: multiple categories, multiple brands, multiple price points,” said Maria Salcedo, senior vice chairman of merchandising, Ulta Beauty. “The portfolio that Nathalie leads helps us present a suggestion of diversity and differentiation.”

Salcedo noted that 73 percent of shoppers are maintaining their makeup routines, and that the L’Oréal mass brands are hitting the mark. “They do an amazing job of delivering not only value through pricing, but delivering value through product quality and innovation. Maybelline continues to deliver blockbuster innovation that resonates rather well, same with L’Oréal Paris, and Nyx brings artistry in mass,” she said.

As well as, staying one step ahead of social media trends has bolstered those brands. “A part of their edge is that they’ve been first or leading in maximizing social media as an efficient connection driver, or driver of engagement, with the buyer,” Salcedo said. “They’re playing a very strong game.”

While Gerschtein has change into adept at adapting to worldwide markets, she draws on the commonalities, too, including the role beauty plays in consumers’ lives to educate her teams to a winning position. “Everybody is enthusiastic about beauty wherever you reside — whatever your culture is, regardless of the family you’ve been born in, beauty is a strong force. That quest for beauty is universal,” she said.

What’s also universal is Gerschtein’s approach to every latest market under her remit. Her strategy is to get as near the buyer base as possible. “Once I arrived in India, I spent two months in the sphere. I met consumers, did home visits, went to their bathrooms and they might show me the products they used,” she said, noting the reality of the phrase, “You don’t start on the job. You begin in the true world.”

Amongst her key learnings abroad: Indians have an enormous propensity for hair care, while in Thailand, “they might spend hours talking to me about their skin.”

As for the U.S.? “Once I arrived, consumers would spend hours talking to me about what lipstick they use and what their makeup routine is,” said Gerschtein. “Beauty can have different shapes and forms all over the world, but it surely’s definitely a universal need.”

There’s also an increasingly strong interchange between markets. “Big ideas travel far,” said Gerschtein. “When you take Maybelline’s Sky High Mascara, which is the highest mascara within the U.S. that we launched a couple of years ago, it’s the number-one mascara in most other countries — the formula is perhaps barely different, or the pack barely different, but it surely’s a blockbuster in every single place.”

Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara.

Courtesy of Ulta

That product launched the identical yr that the brand debuted Maybelline Green Edition, a spread of products across skincare and makeup billed as “clean.” Finding the sweet spot between newer innovations and doubling down on key categories, is Gerschtein’s forte. “I’m at all times encouraging my team to interrupt the autopilot. As a way to recuperate and higher, you may have to stay in the expansion zone,” she said.

Gerschtein’s leadership style stems from that mindset, too. Describing a spectrum where one side is dominated by the “comfort zone” and the opposite by the “stress zone,” Gerschtein strives to maintain her employees in the center ground of the “growth zone.”

“When you are in your comfort zone on a regular basis, you don’t do anything amazing, but for those who are within the stress zone on a regular basis, then you definitely also don’t do anything amazing. You’ve to seek out your sweet spot,” she said. “You’ve to stay in the expansion zone. That’s where you place your team so that they can grow and be their best selves, they usually can innovate.”

That applies to products in addition to people. “We want to maintain innovating on the massive pillars of the market and the massive segments of the market,” said Gerschtein. “We’re the number-one company in mascara, but in addition lipstick, lip gloss, liquid lip — there are smaller categories like highlighters, primers, brow or liners, which are booming. We now have to have the option to see those signals.”

An early such example are the micellar waters from Garnier, now a drugstore staple. “We were attempting to [win] in face cleansing. Within the U.S., the dominant format on the time was cleansing wipes,” Gerschtein said, ticking off the downsides of the format. “They dry out, they’re not sustainable, they’re not at all times efficient…we launched wipes, it didn’t work.

The corporate took that consumer feedback and doubled down on the Garnier Skin Energetic Micellar Cleansing Water, which launched in 2015. Today, a micellar water is sold every two seconds within the U.S. “It’s huge, it keeps growing, and we have now a franchise around it,” said Gerschtein. “That was the strategy to go — not the expected way. We went daring and unexpected, and that’s once you truly bring something different to the market.”

A must-have for proponents of the double-cleanse, every four seconds a bottle is sold.

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

Courtesy of the Brand

To guage those white spaces, Gerschtein thinks by consumer, fairly than by audience. “We got here up with tools, like social vision segmentation,” she said. “We segment our audiences to see how we are able to best activate based on the buyer profile, and we do it for all our brands. We also map [the brands], so we don’t go on top of one another, and everybody has their very own sandbox to play in,” she said.

“The strategy at L’Oréal for a very long time, which is about targeted addition, is that every brand has a unique role to play. It doesn’t mean they can’t launch in the identical segment, but they’re going to do it otherwise because they will not be resonating with the identical consumer,” she continued.

Being attuned to such nuances is critical, particularly at a moment when the mass channel within the U.S. is seeing beauty shoppers paring back. As reported, unit sales are trending flat to negative across brands and categories, though dollar sales are rising attributable to price increases.

“We now have to seek out the best balance between democratization and premiumization as well, because we wish to bring something higher to our consumers,” said Gerschtein. “In the expansion of the division, two-thirds come from value, and one-third comes from volume. Meaning we’re recruiting latest customers at the identical time that we give them higher products. Persons are becoming rather more savvy about beauty, and the more savvy they’re, the more cash they need to speculate in products. That’s definitely a positive for us.”

Her understanding also spans other metrics, similar to social media, where her stable of brands plays particularly well. “It’s an incredibly dynamic category and won’t decelerate anytime soon,” she said. “Google searches for beauty are up double digits, and on TikTok, beauty is the number-one topic. It’s very social by nature and folks wish to exchange [information] about it, so we see these markets growing in the longer term.”

As for the categories she’s most bullish on, what’s small is big again. “Vinyl Ink from Maybelline is our greatest lipstick launch for a very long time, and people segments — highlighter, primer, eyebrow are very dynamic,” Gerschtein said. “Skincare can be amazing. When you concentrate on face serums, L’Oréal Paris is an enormous player there, and the penetration of serums has doubled over the past three years. Persons are constructing more sophisticated routines and regimens for his or her skin.”

This is said to be the bestselling serum in the U.S., with consumers buying one every minute.

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Courtesy of the Brand

Hair care has also been a boon. The hyaluronic acid range from the L’Oréal Paris Elvive franchise, which launched last yr, was the brand’s biggest hair care launch in a decade. 

Still, as vital as listening to consumers is, Gerschtein has also learned the importance of instinct and experience. “It’s good to take heed to them, but they may not know exactly what they need,” she said, of consumers, “so we’d like to interpret those signals. It makes me consider a quote from Henry Ford: ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they might have told me faster horses.’”

A part of how she fosters that break-the-mold mentality on her team is thru her leadership style, which she said has evolved since coming to America. “I’m French by birth, I’ve worked in Europe, and I worked in Asia. Ever since I arrived within the U.S. I’ve understood that authentic leadership is more empathetic and vulnerable, which is more in regards to the learning curve versus knowing all of it,” she said.

“While you recognize that whilst a pacesetter, you would possibly not have the reply, it makes everybody a lot stronger. It’s the strategy to unleash the human magic: you wish a couple of ingredients, similar to as a substitute of attempting to be perfect, you are attempting to be daring. Take calculated risks. I would like the individuals who work with me to have the option to innovate, and in the event that they play it protected on a regular basis, they never will,” she said. “We also wish to champion inclusive beauty, but once you consider diversity within the U.S., it’s totally different from diversity in Canada. We attempt to make sure that that we’re very granular in what we do.”

In her role, Gerschtein also oversees the division’s business in Canada, which she said is drastically different from that of the U.S. “It’s a smaller marketplace for us, but more nimble, with an interesting consumer base,” she said, noting that the French brands resonate more within the French-speaking areas of Canada and in other areas it’s the American brands.

Gerschtein is adept at levering latest technologies, and has worked on projects like L’Oréal Paris’ Colorsonic, a tool geared toward optimizing at-home hair dyeing, which was unveiled at CES two years ago. “Fifteen years ago, the patron was offline, then online got here up a couple of years ago. Now, it’s offline, online and on-chain. And it’s interesting to see the role beauty plays in all these dimensions, since it could be virtualized, and likewise digitized,” she said. “L’Oréal Paris just launched on TikTok shop, and it’s the primary L’Oréal brand on there. We’re at all times attempting to pioneer latest things where our consumers are.”

Gerschtein can be working with Amy Edmondson, the Harvard Business School professor who coined the phrase “psychological safety,” on understanding find out how to create a piece culture centered around enabling risk-taking decisions from her team. “It’s good to have psychological safety, or people is not going to take any risk,” she said. “We began to work together to know higher how do we actually make it come to life inside the company, and I discovered it fascinating. It’s day and night, and when you may have that, your team can dream larger, bolder. When you want success, you may have to go for the exceptional.”

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