Elizabeth Arden: A beauty brand turnaround case study

Elizabeth Arden: A beauty brand turnaround case study with Air Paris

Last summer Revlon got into the prestige beauty business in a big way by acquiring Elizabeth Arden. Some two years before that deal, Elizabeth Arden invested in an Air Paris rebranding scheme that wisely leveraged the potential of content, sharing and updating the brand story and value with consumers on an impressive scale.

Since it was brand development firm Air Paris that collaborated with Elizabeth Arden on the rebranding. Cosmetics Design posed several question to the firm’s CEO Dimitri Katsachnias to find out how and why it all worked.

Would you please describe the brand at the start of your project?

Dimitri Katsachnias: Ms Elizabeth Arden, one of the first [beauty leaders] to empower women at a time when women were fighting for their most basic human rights and equality, created one of the all-time top 5 beauty brands in the world. In 2014, at the beginning of our collaboration, the Elizabeth Arden brand wanted to reclaim their territory as an empowering, forward-thinking and innovative brand.”

What goals did the Air Paris team set for the Elizabeth Arden project?

Dimitri Katsachnias: Our challenge was to give the brand a  modern  identity  and  ‘ownable’ territory while maintaining the  strength of its heritage as  the  brand  that  is  ‘For Women, By Women’. Elizabeth Arden needed to connect with consumers in Europe, Asia and the US, which would in turn boost growth and regain relevance.”

Describe the data behind the brand turnaround.

Dimitri Katsachnias: “Our insights showed that consumers engage with brands that combine heritage with a strong philosophy on modern, active life. We also discovered that now more than ever, women across the globe consider New York to be setting the standard for an active modern lifestyle. ‘Owning’ the New-York state of mind was therefore a great opportunity for Elizabeth Arden.”

How did Air Paris manage to blend the brand heritage of Elizabeth Arden with a contemporary sensibility?

Dimitri Katsachnias: Air Paris intervened on most aspects of the brand. The strategy was based on ‘the active woman,’ ‘call-to-action-statements’ and ‘hero product building.’

“Just like modern New Yorkers, the Elizabeth Arden woman is driven, active, [and] confident, a high achiever, professional, multicultural, technologically savvy, connected and on the move. Strong call-to-action statements became a clear feature on every communication. They were statements of strength about the woman as well as metaphors for the product benefit. In parallel, we showcased first-to-market launches that shook up the beauty category such as Superstart and Prevage City Smart.”

Was there cause to revise your original assumptions as you went along?        

Dimitri Katsachnias: “Our common assumptions with the brand’s management proved to be right and the brand met with growth for 6 consecutive quarters. But there is always a lot of room for improvement, especially after the acquisition of Elizabeth Arden by Revlon which raised the ambitions even higher. The brand could have benefited from the personality and impact of a carefully selected spokesperson to represent the brand. This was not done but hopefully we can do it now.”

Will you please share a bit about the progress you have made in working with Elizabeth Arden?

Dimitri Katsachnias: “The first phase of collaboration took three years.  Campaigns and content were created across print, film, digital, social media and beyond. Consumers were inspired not only by beautiful skin but by the mind and attitude behind it. Every creative decision provided an opportunity to speak further to consumers about the brand’s story, strength and products.”

And the results? 

Dimitri Katsachnias:

Air Paris offices in New York, Paris and Shanghai collaborated with international Elizabeth Arden teams to achieve excellent results: 

Sales: After many years, the brand has met with consistent growth in sales. The six quarterly reports (January 2015 – July 2016) showed consistent growth in all markets, including Asia, a strategically important region. 

Brand equity: There was a positive shift in brand equity achieving very positive scores in post-exposure, purchase intent, and interest in all brand categories.

Mobilization:  This new brand spirit brought enthusiasm to the international Elizabeth Arden teams and the new brand initiatives were covered extensively in the press.”

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