Stefano Curti joined Markwins Beauty Brands in January and has since begun implementing the company’s new strategic vision.
“For me ‘indie’ isn’t about size,” Curti tells Cosmetics Design, “it’s about mentality.” And he believes that the Markwins Beauty Brands’ approach—to acquisition, talent recruitment, product development, retail partnerships, and more—set the company apart.
Here are 7 of the things Markwins Beauty Brands is doing now to become a well-known and industry leading skin care and color cosmetics corporation.
1. Making tactical deals
Markwins Beauty Brands acquires new brands and businesses for one of two reasons, Curti tells Cosmetics Design: “incremetality or capability.”
Acquiring companies incrementality means that Markwins adds a new category, geography, channel, etc. every time it buys a new business. The company’s recent acquisition of LORAC, for instance, added prestige beauty. Acquiring by capability means that Markwins buys businesses that add new technologies to its portfolio: formulation technologies, testing methodologies, and the like.
Not only does this strategy ensure that “all the brands can grow at the same time (because none compete)” but aslo allows the company “to enrich the way [it] develops products for other brands,” explains Curti. And the company approaches joint ventures with the same thinking.
Just last month the company’s founder and CEO Eric Chen explained the company’s approach to growth this way (in comments quoted on Bloomberg.com), “Markwins’ expanding success is simple at its core, we respect that different people have different needs. Whether culturally or economically, we understand that we need to satisfy the global consumer by continuing to acquire and develop disparate brands, one brand can't conquer the world.”
2. Developing exclusive retail partnerships
Markwins currently works with several top beauty retailers in the States. In 2019, says Curti, the company will ink “exclusive relationships with key retailers, relationships that will greatly benefit brands the company owns.
3. Establishing a center of excellence for product development
The company is moving away from its long-standing brand-centric product development strategy toward a tech-centric one, says Curti. Markwins will take a “chassis approach” to product dev in an effort to be more cost efficient and accelerate speed to market. As Curti describes it, the forthcoming center of excellence will innovate based on formulation tech: emulsion tech, surfactant tech, anhydrous tech, organic tech, etc.
Markwins, says Curti, is “restructuring with capabilities in mind.”
4. Becoming the go-to company for inventors and innovators of tech in makeup
Now, as Curti sees it, the big 5 multinationals attract the top talent in skin care formulation and contract manufacturers hire the best minds in color cosmetics. “I’d like [Markwins Beauty Brands] to be the go-to company for inventors and innovators in technology for makeup (formats, particles, everything)” he tells Cosmetics Design.
With 18,000 people currently employed in product development and manufacturing, he believes Markwins is poised to become the go-to company for color cosmetics tech talent.
5. Avoiding the commodification of beauty
“One thing I fear is the commodification of makeup,” says Curti. He’s concerned that in the current marketplace is “losing sight of technological and product differentiation,” in effect robbing product of its intrinsic value.
6. Launching an internal incubator
“I’d like to own more innovation labs,” Curti tells this publication. The company created an incubator group at the start of the year and is working now to expand and formalize an in-house incubator program.
7. Creating a whole new category
Curti believes there is space in the industry for something he’s calling Beautiful Skincare. In much the same way that multifunctional color cosmetics and complexion products have built-in skin care benefits so too can skin care go beyond its basic function. He uses this analogy to explain the idea further: if conventional skin care is functional like a deodorant, Beautiful Skincare is sophisticated like a fine fragrance.
He believes that the company’s Physicians Formula brand can be a forefront of this new category.
Deanna Utroske, CosmeticsDesign.com Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.