What do the changes in the Elemis executive team mean for you and your role?
“I’m now global president – I spread my wings over all areas except for Asia because Sean [Harrington, chief executive] is there so he’s doing that. I will be taking my learnings from the US – because I had 18 months of incredible learning there – and be bringing that back here to the UK, making sure Elemis is staying on that very clear path that we have carved out.”
How has coronavirus changed the business?
“At the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown, we put a 90-day plan together to accelerate all of the changes to the brand look and feel. So we’re ‘Elemis London’ – really owning our British heritage. We’re even going to have the iconic phone booth as a brand pillar but in our beautiful colour tones. We’ve gone from navy into this beautiful light blue-grey look and feel. We’re coming out of this with a fresh tone of voice and new assets.
“If Covid-19 has taught us anything as a brand, it’s that we have to really own our consumer – not always by bringing them into a digital space because they won’t always want to be there, but by keeping them engaged and communicating with them. So, we’re communicating more digitally, of course, but that language has changed. People are time-poor so it needs to be snappier. Education and entertainment go hand-in-hand today in a way that they never did before. The Elemis division that’s undergone the greatest change across the board is education because how do you mobilise a training team that can’t touch people and can’t travel?
“The pandemic accelerated us into a digital space – the virtual training room, webinars, etc. My passion is education involving touch, so it was an area I really wanted to keep an eye on, but the feedback has been incredible. Virtual sessions make training far less costly than taking 14 people out of their businesses for a week to train.
“Elizabeth Genel is our new global director of education and she’s based in New York – I employed her before I left. She has taken my educators and turned them from hands-on trainers to the best performers on screen. Moving forward, I’m not sure I would like to go completely virtual, but we will always have a blend of the two.
“I don’t have concerns about the spa sector long term because I think as soon as things can get fully reopen there’s going to be a huge hunger for touch. We all think of ‘me time’ as being at home, but actually home is the most stressful space we’ve had for the past nine months. Come 2021, we will see people desperate for experiences again. This is going to be so important for the spa and salon market.”
What else do you have coming up for spas and salons in 2021?
“The spa world will always be close to my heart because, to me, it’s the greatest conversion of your client. A person will go for a two hour spa visit and fall in love with Elemis till death do us part more than they ever would do if they went and bought a Pro Collagen Marine Cream in a department store. So, we have lots coming up for the professional sector.
“We have a new Ultra Smart Facial for our top-end Ultra Smart range, with a whole new protocol, plus, we have Biotec 2.0 ready. We were coming in with this whole new Biotec innovation, which was going to be launched at the Professional Beauty London show in 2020, but with the lockdowns we had to delay it. We’re now just waiting for the right time.
“Our second piece of innovation is wellness and body; we’re repackaging the products and bringing a whole new body service line up. There’s a huge amount coming into the brand but we need to see how the vaccine goes. I think you’ll see these launches in the second half of 2021, if not early 2022.”
I don’t have concerns about the spa sector long term because I think as soon as things can get fully reopen there’s going to be a huge hunger for touch
Which ingredients and technologies are you excited about this year?
“There’s a return to the simplest of ingredients, sustainably sourced in eco packaging – that’s one end of the spectrum. The other end will focus on incredible delivery systems. We’ve just launched a new generation in hyaluronic acid, microencapsulated and sourced from a desert algae which is slowly released onto the skin, and to me, that’s magic. We also have a ‘drone peptide’ – an ‘aqua shuttle’. To me, these are amazing. It’s about the latest ingredients with the latest technology wrapped around it.
“We’re also bringing out a skin-friendly retinol with alpha and stevia extract wrapped up in seaweed. So, there are some beautiful ingredients coming out with incredibly powerful actives, but it was a space that we could never go into before as Elemis because I always said we would never use retinol in the form it used to be, which was an uncontrolled extract, but now it can be controlled.
“I also said we’d never use glycolics and yet we’re now using this incredible lactobionic acid, which is the equivalent. The important things at the moment are high science and high actives but with incredible delivery systems that are safe for quicker results. That’s the demand from today’s consumer globally – safe and fast, but with no compromise on the result.” PB