Notes from Cosmoprof: sales advice from one Shark and four retailers

During his opening remarks at the Professional Beauty Association keynote breakfast during Cosmoprof, a week ago today, Mark Cuban focused on sales. His remarks were short and to the point, and the two key messages I took away, and have written on postits now strategically placed in my office were:

“Sales cures all ills.”

“Keep on grinding. Keep on working. Keep on selling.” 

Not that I don’t know this already – but a reminder that I (and most entrepreneurs out there probably) need to focus my time and energy on revenues is always welcome. No business can exist without revenue…

This message informed my attendance at a panel the following day, The Retail Evolution: What’s New In Stores. This panel, led by Andrea Nagel of CEW, included:

–       Marcia Gaynor, DMM Prestige Beauty, Walgreens. Her Duane Reade Look Boutiques focus on making shopping easier and more convenient for the consumer, who is already shopping there for her family.

–       Shannon West, VP Beauty, Costco. 1.5 million people walk in a Costco every day. The company offers items at a 14% markup from their full landed cost, launches a line with their hero SKU, and never wants to be more than 25% of a brand’s business (i.e. they like to work with established brands).

–       Nicky Kinnaird, Founder and Creative Director, SpaceNK.  She built a beauty empire on two continents, with 62 stores in the UK and 22 in the US (including store in stores at Bloomies). Her role with the company recently shifted away from day to day operations, as she launched her own consulting business (of course with SpaceNK as a key client).

–       And Richard Parrott, President, Ricky’s NY. Ricky’s has 29 stores in New York City (of which 15 have salons), and segment their business between tourist-based business and the neighborhood store (in which of course relationships and clienteling are much more important).

Not surprisingly, the panel was sold out. I guess I am not the only indie beauty brand looking for more distribution… Here are my key takeaways.

–       Apparently, the difficulty of establishing new relationships goes both ways. While I often feel that retailers are not being as responsive to me as I would hope, Marcia, Shannon, and Nicky all expressed that finding brands is not easy, and that when they call brands they would like to have represented in their stores, they often do not even get a call back.

–       Stores like to cherry pick from lines. Nicky said she likes to offer in her stores what reflects the consumer’s bathroom, which is most often an assortment of the best products from a number of different brands. Shannon echoed this stating that Costco’s philosophy is usually to pick the brand’s hero product to launch… “Exactly what they don’t want to sell us” she admits…

–       The trends identified by the panel include:

  • From Richard: anything coming out of Japan, products for men, and sexual wellness
  • From Shannon and Marcia: devices
  • From Nicky: supplements and smart fabric

–       Apparently, boutiques are looking for new brands! Nicky told the brands in the audience “email me and you will get a response” (which I confirm is true), and Richard admitted freely “we are looking for new brands.” Indeed, he urged brands to “stick with it and be persistent.” “Don’t stop,” he concluded, echoing Mark Cuban’s exact advice.

And with that, my focus on sales, prospects, leads, and cold and warm calls just doubled!

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