The cosmetic industry is driven by multi-national conglomerates like L’Oréal, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Shishedo and Estée Lauder and therefore, when recruiting executives, we are often asked to identify candidates who have successfully launched brands originating in Europe or Asia in the US and vice versa.
Here are some qualities we look for in an executive candidate who is looking to spearhead an international launch.
Ability to work with long-established prestige cosmetics brands
Part of the appeal of a number of cosmetics and luxury brands is their heritage and history. Examples include:
- Shiseido: a popular skincare and beauty products brand from Japan.
- Guerlain: Know for elegance, sophistication and high quality ingredients, Guerlain’s luxurious fragrances have found a dedicated following in the US.
Further, a number of the biggest cosmetic brands have been around for decades, and some have highly entrenched hierarchies. When we recruit for these types of companies, we usually are tasked with finding executives who can work with a traditional structure of the corporate office while being able to execute branding and marketing strategies to launch new products.
Understanding multiple product categories
L’Oréal is a global beauty giant that is a case study in developing a diverse portfolio. The brand’s umbrella covers IL’Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York, Lancôme, and Kiehl’s, caters to a wide range of consumers. Companies like L’Oréal need executives who can seamlessly orchestrate campaigns among diverse and well-defined brands. We therefore look for beauty candidates who can understand the fine details that separate product lines.
Strategic vision to cut through the competition
As discussed, many major cosmetics companies are well-established and are successful in part due to a long history of building a prestigious brand. That said, there are major brands that made their US debut in part by standing out from the competition. NARS, founded by makeup artist François Nars, gained popularity for bold colors, edgy aesthetics and innovative formulations. We therefore look for candidates in marketing with a track record of using sophisticated campaigns to break through the competition in this market.
Expertise in key niche markets
Some of the most successful international cosmetics launches in the US in recent years pertained to important niche markets, especially for consumers who have a preference for organic and natural products:
- Weleda, a brand from Germany, features natural and organic skincare products that have found a place among health-conscious consumers in the US. The brand’s commitment to sustainability and holistic well-being aligns with the values of many American customers.
- UK-based The Body Shop’s ethical and sustainable approach to beauty has resonated well with environmentally-conscious American consumers. The brand’s commitment to cruelty-free and natural products has helped it carve out a niche in the US market.
- Dutch company Rituals’ focus on combining beauty with wellness and mindfulness has resonated with American consumers seeking holistic self-care experiences. The brand’s unique approach to beauty products and rituals has helped it stand out in the US market.
TikTok and Digital Knowledge
On TikTok, cosmetic-obsessed insiders drive major trends pertaining to beauty and cosmetics, recently boosting multi-step skincare regimens that are popular in Korea and Japan. Brands like Innisfree (from South Korea) and SK-II (Japan): Innisfree’s emphasis on natural ingredients and eco-friendly practices has attracted attention in the US. The brand’s K-beauty offerings, including sheet masks and skincare products, have tapped into the American fascination with Korean beauty trends.
We ask our beauty candidates comprehensive questions about their experience developing viral campaigns on social media.
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