WWD Beauty Summit Highlight: Warmth & Competence

Yesterday, I saw a (self-proclaimed) cold-hearted German economist tear up. It was the highlight of the Women’s Wear Daily Beauty Summit!

Organized by the brilliant Jenny B. Fine, this conference brings 400+ beauty executives together to listen to leaders, explore the state of the industry, and network.  

Markus Strobel, President of Global Skin & Personal Care, Procter & Gamble and said cold-hearted German economist, presented a case study on the turnaround of SKII in China.

Any brand, he explained, needs two complementary aspects to be successful:  

  • Warmth. Meaning “what are your intentions?” This is the humanity of the brand.
  • Competence. Meaning “what is your ability to deliver on your promises.” This is the efficacy of the brand.

SKII, he explained, was all competence and no warmth. Indeed, consumers in China perceived the brand’s intentions as “selling us as much products as possible.” Not what the marketing team was going for…  

The team thus set out to bring emotion back into the brand, to relate to the humanity of the consumer, specifically targeting the “leftover woman,” who in China, is a woman over 27 years old and is not married.

The intention of the brand became to give a voice to this “leftover woman,” to see her, to listen to her, to elevate her. And thus, the Change Destiny video campaign was created. With millions of views on YouTube, in China and around the world, this emotional video changed the trajectory of SKII in the Chinese market.  

Yesterday, as the audience watched this video, many teared up in empathy, including said German economist – who admitted: “this one gets me every time… even after watching it 100 times.”

And thus, we were all reminded that we are human, that we crave emotion. Strobel left us with the following insightful question and marketing challenge: “How do you all find the humanity in your brand?”

BeautyView: Jenny B. Fine, Editor, WWD Beauty Inc.

Jenny is the perfect illustration of why I love working in beauty – it gives me the opportunity to work with women like her. She is a smart, gorgeous, powerful and passionate woman that knows more about the industry, in particular the retail landscape, than anyone I know. She is loyal, genuine, and always on time (I love her pet peeves!). And she always has champagne in her fridge…

AP: What city were you born in? JBF: Louisville, KY.

AP: What city to do you live in? JBF: New York City, NY.

AP: What is your middle name? JBF: Beth. 

AP: What is your astrological sign? JBF: Sagittarius. 

AP: What is something about you most people don’t know? JBF: I’m quite shy.

AP: What is your most prized possession? JBF: I fall in and out of love with things, but the health of my family is what’s most valuable to me.

AP: If you could have dinner with the person of your choice, who would it be? JBF: Winston Churchill. 

AP: Describe your fashion style in three words maximum. JBF: Classic individualism. 

AP: Do you wear a watch? If yes, what model? JBF: Hardly ever. I used to, but I’m a very on-time person and would become too stressed if others were late.

AP: Diamonds or pearls? JBF: Diamonds. Not too big and not too small.

AP: What is your #1 beauty secret? JBF: Simplicity.

AP: What fragrance do you wear? JBF: Diptyque 34 eau de toilette.

AP: Botox or not? JBF: Not. Yet.

AP: Hair color: natural or not? JBF: Decidedly not!

AP: What are your special diet tips, if any? JBF: I avoid fruit—high in sugar. And the key lies in portion control.

AP: What do you do for exercise? JBF: In the words of Dr. Andrew Weil, I prefer functional exercise. I hate the gym.

AP: What are three things that you always have in your fridge? JBF: Wine, water and champagne.

AP: What is your cocktail of choice? JBF: I’m not a big cocktail drinker, but I do love the Doonski at Ma Pêche.

AP: What is your secret to work/life balance? JBF: Like what you do. And who you do it with.

AP: How many miles do you fly per year on average? JBF: I don’t fly much for business, mainly for pleasure.

AP: What are your three top tips for travel? JBF: 1. Carry on. 2. Carry on. 3. Carry on.

AP: 3 songs on your ipod right now. JBF: Carly Rae Jepson. Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. My iPod has been taken over by my 5 year old.

AP: What book are you reading right now? JBF: I’m making my way through my Christmas list: Kati Marton’s memoirs of her life with Richard Holbrook, Grace Coddington’s autobiography and the new Diana Vreeland biography, given to me by my boss.

AP: Quote to live by. JBF: I’m more of a mantra person.

AP: What is your worst pet peeve? JBF: Lateness, lying and insincerity.

AP: What time do you usually wake up in the morning, and how many hours of sleep do you usually get? JBF: I wake up between 5:30 and 6 o’clock after a very restful 8-9 hours of sleep.

AP: What is your favorite thing about the beauty industry? JBF: The people.

AP: Least favorite thing. JBF: The hype.

AP: Words of advice for young women starting their careers today. JBF: Be strong, be bold, be confident. Be the first one in and the last one out. Understand your role in the context of the bigger picture.