Beauty CEO Summit Provides Spa Growth Strategies

May is the month that climbers scale Mt. Everest, so I’m guessing that’s why spring is full of “Summits.”  Last month, in addition to the Global Spa Summit, was 8th edition of the Women’s Wear Daily Beauty CEO Summit.  This event, like the Global Spa Summit, is an invitation-only, three-day conference that provides 200 beauty executives with a forum for thought leadership and creative problem-solving. Executive leaders come together in a shared commitment to finding solutions to the most pressing problems confronting their industry.

While this event is geared toward the manufacturers and retailers who operate in both the prestige and mass beauty retail space, many of the issues and topics they face mirror what we are seeing in the spa industry.  Among the relevant presenters and topics were the following:

*  Carmen Bauza, Wal-mart’s Vice President and Divisional Merchandise Manager of beauty and personal care, urged attendees to change some of the bad habits they have been using to “sell” merchandise for many years.  Bauza stated that the “buy one, get one free” and coupon approaches to moving inventory are a damaging example of “mortgaging tomorrow’s sales.”  She shared a quote attributed to Warren Buffet; “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  How true this is, when you think about it.  How many processes or procedures do we follow in our spas because “that’s how we’ve always done it.”  We need to be aware that our clients are making purchases through multiple venues, and our sales model needs to evolve along with them, or risk being left behind.

*  A panel discussion on digital marketing was led by Virginia C. Drosos of Proctor & Gamble.  Drosos put the current focus on digital brand-building into the context of the 5 C’s; consumer, credibility, content, customized scale and culture.  According to a recent study, 84% of social networking sites are dominated by females, so those of us in female-oriented businesses have a lot of opportunity to engage with our clients, both existing and potential, through these channels.  An interesting contribution from Fred Mossler of; his company puts a lot of energy into dealing with customers who return merchandise.  Mossler shared that Zappos feels that while this segment of clients may be their least profitable, they are also potentially huge supporters of their brand, through sharing stories about the easy transactions and the wonderful customer service they received.  It really illustrates the point that now that every single customer is a broadcaster, you can’t afford to overlook anyone.

*  Mike Bloom, Executive Vice President at CVS, introduced the audience to the CVS beauty concept, Beauty 360.  Currently numbering about 20 units, CVS is fine-tuning the model before further expansion to a potential of 750-1000 units throughout the U.S.  CVS has used their time to study the purchasing habits and patterns of the 5 million customers a day who visit their more than 7,000 stores, buying more than 900 million UNITS of beauty products annually.  Wow.  It really makes me realize how we in the spa industry need to get our retail act together.  Bloom also shared that CVS has added beauty advisers to 850 targeted stores, and their sales in the beauty category in those stores is double those of stores without advisers.  So, maybe staffing someone in the retail area is not such a bad idea . . .