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Under Arnold’s tenure, P&G also has meaningfully built its prestige beauty business. The fine fragrance division, based in Geneva, has become an industry force, particularly behind its steamroller acquisition of Dolce & Gabbana as a fragrance and cosmetics licensee. “They are at the right place at the right time and everybody is trying to play to that strength,” said Karen Grant, vice president and global industry analyst of The NPD Group, referring to P&G’s position in the prestige market, principally its powerhouse collection of fragrances and the SK-II premium skin care brand.
Acknowledging the entire fragrance business has been struggling for the last few years, Grant said that contrary to the trend, the high-priced category, designer juices over $75, has showed significant growth, even in recession-plagued 2008. P&G has a handful of robust brands in that successful end of the market, including Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci.
Similarly, SK-II inhabits the end of the skin care market that has shown the most growth. “It’s not growing as fast,” she said, “but it was still up in 2008.”
Given Arnold’s much chronicled success at P&G, few anticipate she will fade from the limelight for long. But, perhaps she’ll take a different approach. During a CEW-sponsored question-and-answer session last May, Chrysallis’ Scalamandre asked Arnold what her moment of truth was, a question P&G routinely asks customers of their first impression of a product. Arnold changed it up a bit and explained instead her “true moment of insight,” recalling how soon after her first son was born, her father died. The proximity of such a splendid event to an immeasurable loss taught her that despite having a great career, “people, life’s journey, family and friends are what matter most.”
She said, “I was always turned just a little bit tight. [After that], I got better.”