Drosos: Listen, Reconnect, Become Transparent

Virginia drosos, president of global Beauty Care at Procter & Gamble, has played a large part in the transformation of the brand most women in the Fifties knew as Oil of Olay.

VIRGINIA DROSOS, PRESIDENT OF GLOBAL Beauty Care at Procter & Gamble, has played a large part in the transformation of the brand most women in the Fifties knew as Oil of Olay. The brand, now called Olay, has catapulted into a franchise exceeding $2 billion in sales, made up mostly of antiaging, moisturizing and cleansing items. Drosos, who recently was a recipient of a Cosmetic Executive Women Achiever Award, opened her keynote speech with several startling facts.

According to a recent study, only 20 percent of shoppers trust the beauty counselor in the store, she said. And, only 10 percent of consumers trust advertising. Friends, it appears, as well as independent blogs and third-party ratings, are what help consumers make their purchasing decisions.

To overcome this consumer fear, Drosos asked the beauty industry to meet three related challenges, things she thinks of as the new beauty mandates.

"First," she suggested to the audience of beauty industry executives, "listen better to consumers and in new ways."

In the age of YouTube, blogs and other user-generated content, consumers have a greater voice than ever, she said, a fact that translates into consumers who share their opinions widely. In turn, people tune in because they seek and sense the authenticity and collaboration. Designers and celebrities, she added, continue to influence consumer opinion. Drosos said she believes channeling these trends will help the beauty industry earn back the consumer's trust.

"Rather than fight this, I believe we need to channel it, to embrace consumers' diverse opinions and creativity and learn from listening. Because, listening to our consumers, really listening and understanding them, is essential to earning their trust and to creating the new products and imagery and benefits that they will value."

For starters, one-way research, questionnaires and focus groups behind mirrors need to be replaced with dialogue. At P&G, she said, virtually all research is done in context, in the home, in-store and at a woman's vanity.
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