Education & Expansion – HUL’s Way Forward

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Hindustan Unilever Ltd. has several exciting plans drawn for the companies many brands including Lakme Salons, TIGI and Dermalogica in India.

Pushkaraj Shenai – CEO, Lakme Lever (the professional beauty vertical of Hindustan Unilever Ltd) as well as Head, Professional Products, Hindustan Unilever has had a major role to play behind the some of the biggest success of the brands. In an exclusive conversation, Shenai details the brands’ plans for the year and how they are leveraging on education in the industry.

What’s your vision for Dermalogica, for this year?
Dermalogica has touched the lives of every professional skin therapist and given them the power to understand and therefore, delight their customers with exceptionally good results on their skin. We would like to strengthen this even more and elevate the stature of professional skincare therapist in the Beauty environment as well as scale up the brand at the right place and the right forum where it needs to be. But the focus will be on strengthening education – bringing an even better quality of global education, international dermal institute seminars and things around the professional skincare industry.

How is the team working on distribution, after Unilever’s recent acquisition with Dermalogica?
Ideally, there is no takeover as such. The team has transitioned seamlessly from a distributor to a dedicated professional beauty team that runs it. In this year alone, we have trained over a thousand therapists – specifically for anybody who is new to Dermalogica goes through the certified level, specialist level, the expert level and then, the beauty expert level. We have very strong investments and activation that have gone into education already.

What are your plans for Lakme salons, apart from expansion?
At Lakme Salons, we want to magnify the expertise, experience and excitement from the backstage of Lakme Fashion Week. We have a program called ‘Backstage Heroes’ where our top tier experts go through a full-year intensive training programme – if they qualify then they go on to work backstage the Lakme Fashion Week. We also have a programme called LEAP, in which they can run their own Lakme Salons. We support them with softer terms and have a fabulous response from that programme.

How can we get the industry to be more organised?
I think it’s something that will take a natural course. Today, if you look at the kind of talent that aspires to be in the beauty industry vs 10 years back, there is a dramatic difference. Today, beauty offers you a very aspirational career path of growth. So the kind of talent coming into the professional beauty industry is dramatically different. They expect a very professional set up to work with and this will be offered by a very progressive and organised firm. Therefore, talent will gravitate toward the organised and the business will follow.

Is HUL doing anything specific in terms of education?
We realised that education will make a huge difference in this business. This is a business where supply will create its own demand – therefore, 3 years back we had a collaboration with Aptech. We created a Lakme academy powered by Aptech and now have100 academies in about 50 towns. We have to do skin, hair, makeup, and cosmetology – soon we’ll be doing managerial programmes as well. We will give a very educated talent pool – so that’s a big one for us.

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