Harrods MD hails disruptive and creative thinking for beauty growth

Analysts may be saying that technology is going to continue shaking up the beauty retail sector but it will only do so if it goes hand in hand with unique and creative ideas.


Harrods' MD hailed Charlotte Tilbury and Huda Beauty as two brands that have shaken up the cosmetics sector

That’s according to Harrods managing director Michael Ward who said that beauty is the best sector to see the disruptive effect of new thinking around retail, and especially luxury retail.

“Beauty has been the most disruptive sector of all, and it's been totally disrupted by Millennials,” he said on stage the Millennial 20/20 event in London, adding that the key factor now is that retailers must think about the final outcome rather than just focusing on product.

“People are starting to think, it's not the product that they want or the brand that they want, but they want the look,” he explained. “That's why Charlotte Tilbury was so phenomenally successful because everybody wanted to look like that person and that's been transformed into other brands too.” 

He cited the example of Huda kattan, the aspiring make-up artist-turned-blogger who is today popularly seen as the world’s most influential beauty blogger. With over 24 million Instagram followers, she leveraged that fame into her own Huda Beauty brand and beat many of the big names in the sector at their own game.

“We were the first to get Huda in the UK,” Ward said. “We got exclusivity on that, and had it literally outselling traditional major brands because people were wanting something different, something special. It was a blogger who showed them how to look absolutely amazing.”

He also referred to one of the most influential Instagram posts ever of “a spotty boy being transformed into a beautiful woman.” Why influential? “Because people thought, if you can do that to a spotty boy, what can you do to me?”

Highlighting the fact that the Harrods customer profile is heavily  weighted towards Millennials, the MD stressed how businesses need to reinvent themselves for the very different outlook that such young shoppers have.

“Our product range is very much aimed at Millennials,” he said. “People may think you're a crusty old department store, but if you’ve got the real product, and the real experiences and you show them how to do things [you’ll succeed]. 

“We brought over Kim Kardashian's make-up artist to show our customers how to sculpt, to get an amazing look. The product to them is the end result. [Their question is:] ‘what did you do to make that look? I just want to look like that’.”

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