Carmen Bauza and Muriel Gonzalez
Discuss Winning at Retail at CEW’s Newsmaker Forum
Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) hosted its first Newsmaker Forum of the new year on February 15 at the Harmonie Club in Manhattan with a conversation featuring Carmen Bauza, Vice President for Beauty and Personal Care for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Muriel Gonzalez, Executive Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for Cosmetics, Fragrances and Shoes at Macy’s Inc. The speakers discussed strategies for reaching and attracting today’s consumer at the event that turned out the largest attendance ever for a CEW Newsmaker Forum. Carlotta Jacobson, President of CEW, introduced the retail leaders, commending them on their “shared spirit of camaraderie, generosity and curiosity.”
With today’s customer shopping at a range of stores—from discount centers to department and specialty shops—and on the Internet, consumer spending habits have created a retail tug-of-war of cross-channel shopping that retailers must now navigate through to build store loyalty. “Customers have so many great choices everywhere they go,” said Ms. Gonzalez, “What we have to do better is sharpen our service, be smarter about our service.” Better service for Macy’s includes offering exclusive brands and products, targeting defined consumer segments (the store developed the Impulse Beauty section directed at the Millennial Generation) and by providing incentives such as gifts-with-purchase, allowing customers to try new products while getting an added value.
An understanding of the consumer is of the highest importance for successful retail management. “We know more about our customers than ever before,” shared Ms. Gonzalez, detailing that Macy’s database system is able to track 30 million households, allowing the company to make appropriate marketing decisions and provide the most relevant selection of inventory.
|Wal-Mart Store’s Carmen Bauza and Macy’s Muriel
Gonzalez with CEW’s Carlotta Jacobson
|Lord & Taylor’s Barbara Zinn-Moore with The NPD Group’s Diane Nicholson||WSL Strategic Retail’s Wendy Liebmann and CEW’s Jill Scalamandre|
|Coty Beauty’s Matt Lucas and Mary van Praag with Ms. Bauza (c.)||Maybelline New York’s David Greenberg and Steve Lutz (2nd r.) with Ms. Bauza and Cindy Lee of Wal-Mart Stores||L’Oréal Paris’ Jackie Madsen, Karen Fondu, Nathalie Kristo and Lorraine Coyle|
|Givaudan’s Rose Eckert and Marsha Brooks of Coty Beauty||P&G’s Vince Hudson and Brent Miller||P&G’s Maisha Webster, Rob Stevens, Marlene Creighton and Shawn Millerick|
|Coty Beauty’s Lori Antun, David Russell and Sandy Bounds||IPrevention’s Kerri Fallon, Beth Toovell and Jennifer Goldstein||Macy’s Linda Levy and Nancy Schmidt with George Cleary of Coty Beauty (c.)|
|FIT’s Virginia Bonofiglio with Firmenich’s Westly Morris and Coty’s Ruth Sutcliffe||Ms. Jacobson with Pamela Baxter of LVMH||Firmenich’s Joy Atkinson with JHZ Creative Management’s Jean Zimmerman and L’Occitane’s Leela Petrakis|
Knowing the consumer, for Ms. Bauza, included an experiment in living as the average Walmart customer does. By allotting her family a monthly allowance of $60.00 for personal care products this past January, Ms. Bauza mimicked the typical monthly amount spent with the average Walmart shopper’s annual income of $26,000. Her time on the restricted budget included consciously extending the longevity of products and holding off on purchases that weren’t in her monthly budget, reinforcing the need to offer products at prices that keep true to the company’s “Save money, live better” philosophy. “We make sure the right brands are in our assortment at the right prices,” said Ms. Bauza. This includes bringing prestige brands into the store’s assortment. Walmart’s product range also includes local products adapted to each region, exclusive line additions, limited-edition products as well as imported items, all which give reason to come into the store.
Social media Web sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, allow retailers a new opportunity to connect and reach out to customers. “Social Media allows us to talk directly to the consumer,” informed Ms. Bauza, “Walmart needs to be where the customer is.” She discussed the recent success of Maybelline’s Fit Me promotion on Facebook that directly linked the product to Walmart’s Web site for purchase. Whether to gain feedback, offer samples or promote new products, a presence on social media Web sites has created an interactive platform for companies to be where their customers are at all times.
Though both Ms. Bauza and Ms. Gonzalez discussed that today’s retail success is the result of understanding as well as creating an open dialogue with consumers, both retailers agreed that the future remains an unexplored territory. Nevertheless, whoever and wherever tomorrow’s consumer may be, the retail leaders remained confident in their developing approaches. “The future is hard to predict,” said Ms. Bauza, “but we’ll be ready for her, in front of her.”