Staying competitive in the beauty business is easier said than done as today's consumers become more sophisticated.
YSL Beauté, a leading brand in creating, manufacturing and distributing fragrance, make-up and skincare products, believes that the keys to the brand's sustainable success are close control over brand image, regularly launching innovative products and hiring people who can build long-term relationships with customers.
To achieve the brand's consistency demanded by its sophisticated customers, YSL Beauté handles all of its own advertising, public relations, sales, marketing and events rather than farming it out to different agencies. "Our head office is responsible for the initial work on the marketing-related materials for the global brand, and after receiving their materials we adopt strategies such as localisation to make them relevant to local customers," says Denise Lai, managing director, YSL Beauté Hong Kong Limited. "This ensures the whole brand stays on track while also allowing for regional differences in taste."
It is 30 years since YSL Beauté established a presence in Hong Kong and the company is certainly aware of local customers' specific needs. "Our brand concept is to give every woman the freedom to express her emotions and to reveal her personality and style," Ms Lai explains. "We position ourselves as a true fashion accessory which conveys all the values of the brand including elegance, femininity, audacity and modernity."
YSL Beauté is renowned for its innovative style and launches several new products every year. "The market is competitive and therefore we attach great importance to new product launches. We launch new make-up looks four times a year, a major skincare product every three months, and a new perfume every one to two years," Ms Lai notes.
To keep up with its Hong Kong success, the company is looking for talented people with a flair for customer relationships. "Our customers trust our brand, our products and our services, and CRM (customer relationship management) plays a key role in evoking loyalty from them," Ms Lai explains. "As such, we are seeking to bring in personnel with rich experience in CRM — people who can help us develop programmes to foster close relationships with existing customers and attract new customers through different marketing campaigns."
The CRM specialists will be working closely with the marketing department to initiate, plan, execute and evaluate all of its Hong Kong customer relationship management programmes. "These positions are for talented individuals who can handle the business side of the job while still maintaining the level of sophistication and human touch expected of our brand," Ms Lai says.
On the scent
YSL Beauté provides staff with a clear career path, which includes both vertical and horizontal progression options. There are also chances for secondment. "We strongly believe that talent is our most important asset and we are committed to providing career development and growth opportunities for our staff," Ms Lai notes. "Being in an industry as competitive as ours, we encourage staff to keep their knowledge up to date and we reward them when they do."
While most industries require employees with good communication skills, perhaps none more so than this one. "It's about making women feel beautiful and it is our mission to provide the best services to our customers," Ms Lai stresses.
Part of this people orientation is providing staff with adequate training. "Sufficient resources are allocated for staff training, especially for our frontline sales staff because they are responsible for providing our customers with professional advice on beauty," Ms Lai remarks. "We have a well-established sales and training department whose mission is to keep our staff abreast of the latest developments in the company and the market as a whole. In particular, a product refresher training programme is organised every month. Onsite training is also essential in keeping our frontline sales up to standard when providing services to our customers."
Ms Lai emphasises that qualifications are not the only key factors when YSL Beauté considers hiring a new member for its sales and marketing department. "The main prerequisites also include a passion for the brand and to excel in this highly competitive and ever-changing market," she concludes.