Laura Geller: A beauty brand turnaround case study

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

Laura Geller: A beauty brand turnaround case study with Air Paris
Before being acquired by prestige beauty company Glanasol (a project of former Revlon CEO Alan T. Ennis and equity firm Warburg Pincus), Laura Geller Beauty teamed up with Air Paris. Cosmetics Design checked in with that company’s CEO Dimitri Katsachnias to learn what the rebranding entailed.

Air Paris specializes in brand development and advertising for the beauty, fragrance, fashion, jewelry, accessories, find foods, resorts, and leisure industries.

CEO Dimitri Katsachnias brings a global perspective to his team’s work. He “divides his time between Paris and New York and travels regularly to China.” ​(Thecompany has offices in Paris, New York, and Shanghai.) And, “he believes that mixing European culture with American high performance standards and the Asian sense of ritual creates the best processes,” ​according to his company bio.

Here, Katsachnias talks through the Laura Geller brand turnaround.  

How would you have described the brand at the start of you project?

Dimitri Katsachnias: “Laura Geller is a cosmetics brand launched on QVC over 20 years ago by Laura Geller, the renowned New York makeup artist. The brand had great products, and a strong QVC following but needed a “new life”. The new CEO of Laura Geller, Elana Drell-Szyfer, was determined to bring quick as well as strategically strong changes.”

What objectives did you set for this brand turnaround?

Dimitri Katsachnias: “In 2014, the challenge was to make the Brand more relevant and modern while re-enforcing its DNA, to define a clear and strong role for Laura herself, and present the brand in a way that allows for important growth in different markets and distribution channels – specifically retail and on-line. The brand experience and storytelling also needed to be strengthened.”

What data helped set the Air Paris vision for the Laura Geller brand turnaround?

Dimitri Katsachnias: Our insights showed that expertise is no longer communicated to consumers through the authority of a Brand or even its ambassadors but mainly through peer influence. For millennials, beauty is a ‘hobby,’ changing their looks many times a day as selfies and social media push them to be in constant representation mode.”

How did Air Paris modernize the Laura Geller brand and make it more relevant?

Dimitri Katsachnias: Air Paris intervened on most aspects of the brand including packaging to build a totally new brand experience giving rise to the concept of ‘Beauty to Share’.  The most familiar way to come together and share is often around a table, so the table became a symbol for the brand.  New York became a part of the signature, not only because it’s the brand’s origin but also because it represents Laura Geller’s philosophy: cosmopolitan, active, international, with inspirations from the best places of the world, street smart and colorful.

“Laura, driven by the belief that beauty is for everyone and should be a pleasure, shared her tips around the table too. Inspired by cookbooks ‘Laura’s tips’ became a special feature of the Brand, with its own logo. As a result, the Brand Laura Geller - as an institution of ‘Beauty to Share’– and Laura herself each had their own voice avoiding any confusion for the consumer.

“Laura is now established as a beauty chef who instructs in an easy, comprehensive and non-intimidating way how to get the look, which tools to use, and the steps to achieve it. An inviting, inventive and creative way to come together, learn, practice, make a mess and satisfy beauty cravings.”

Did you revise your original assumptions as you went along?                   

Dimitri Katsachnias: “Our assumptions proved to be right; although there is always room for improvement in execution. For example, we are now working on the evolution of the concept of the QVC and retailer kits to be aligned with the newly defined spirit of the brand, representing more of a single product focus.”

How is the turnaround progressing? How would you describe Laura Geller Beauty now?

Dimitri Katsachnias:This first phase took two years.  ​We brought strong synergy between the brand’s two main channels of distribution, while maintaining strong consistency, philosophy and aesthetics. QVC strategically remained Laura’s main platform while retail assumed a more formal voice and the web married the two beautifully. We’re now entering phase 2 with even more ambitious objectives.”

How has the turnaround benefited Laura Geller Beauty thus far?

Dimitri Katsachnias:“The brand - after 18 years on the market - experienced double digit growth, appealed to and recruited a new customer while holding on to its core customer, and significantly increased awareness.  For the first time, the brand entered NPD’s Top 20 Color Cosmetics Brands and is one of the fastest growing brands on the market today. The results led to a successful transaction to a buyer in December 2016.”

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