Deb Henretta to Beauty Industry: “Embrace New Consumer”

Digital world creating new generation of consumers who are critics, creators and new media
Thursday, May 8, 2014 9:35 am EDT

Deb Henretta, Group President – P&G Global Beauty, delivered this morning's keynote address kicking off the Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) Beauty CEO Summit in Palm Beach, FL, the largest beauty industry event of the year.

This year’s summit focused on the fact that the beauty industry is undergoing a metamorphosis— “shedding yesterday's entrenched notions of brands, retailers, and consumers in favor of a more nuanced, modern approach.“ 

Henretta opened the first day of the summit with a challenge to the industry: “shed yesterday’s understanding of the consumer in favor of the new, more savvy, engaged and astute consumer she’s become.”

“Thanks to the vast amount of information that is no further away than her fingertips, she is smarter, more savvy and more discriminating,” Henretta said. “Her knowledge makes her more vocal and more demanding in what she wants from our brands.” This new consumer “will require a major transformation in the way we do business.”

In a speech inspired by the summit’s “metamorphosis” theme, Henretta pointed to industries that are undergoing transformation as consumers take charge and as savvy companies take notice – but said that the beauty industry is not yet leading. 

“We are a consumer-inspired industry,” Henretta said, “if there ever was one. We are trend-led, and we thrive on reinvention and rebirth. Creativity is at the core of everything we do. Many of us … are jumping head-first into co-creation. But we must go farther.”

Her challenge to the industry focused on three things that consumers want from brands they trust and use every day, particularly beauty brands. 

“Consumers want real. She looks to us to deeply understand the role that Beauty plays in her every day,” Henretta said. She pointed to Wella Color,ID and to Old Spice’s new campaign targeted to teenage boys as examples of P&G innovation that addresses the real-life challenges people face every day. 

“Consumers want value… and she also wants values,” Henretta told industry leaders. “She wants and expects good value for her money, and she is armed with the information she needs to make the best choices.She (also) wants to know that the brand she invests in is a brand that stands for something more.” Pantene’s Shine Strong initiative is a recent success, Henretta said, that launched the brand into a “viral, global conversation” driving higher favorability scores and a positive impact on sales. 

“Last, consumers want inspiration. Especially in beauty. Inspiring, meaningful brands. Inspiring, innovative products. And inspiring, engaging marketing.” Henretta cited CoverGirl, which for the first time in its 53-year history brought together its lineup of spokeswomen to inspire girls and women to share their "Girls Can” stories, a program that is building momentum and enabling even more voices. 

“Beauty consumers are in charge,” Henretta said, “and that’s energizing. This is why it’s an exciting time to be in beauty. We must engage with her as critic yet consumer, creator yet user, as media and our muse. It’s a tall order, but it’s essential if we want to keep our industry relevant, connected and growing.”

Henretta reinforced P&G’s long-standing belief that the consumer is boss, but said,

“She is Boss with a capital B. She is no longer a passive recipient of brand innovation and messages. Her influence is growing stronger as the 21st Century economy takes hold. She is disrupting selling models with crowd sourcing. She is replacing traditional products with inventions of her own. She is using her powers to positively force change in the world. This consumer is the new force of change.”

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