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March 4, 2021 34 min

Way before Dermalogica, the world’s top professional-grade skincare brand, was acquired by Unilever in 2015, and even before the company had a product line, it was known as the International Dermal Institute, where innovative cutting-edge skincare treatments were taught. Unlike many indie-brands owned by corporate-motherships, who learn the hard way that tigers eat their young, Dermalogica provides a rare story about how a $60B corporation can continue to nurture the culture and growth of the asset they acquired.

A pioneer in the space, the DNA of education and engagement has served the company well throughout the pandemic, says Aurelian Lis, CEO, and is helping it even now to innovate in ways that will define the brand in the decade ahead.

Lis, a brilliant leader who recently joined me for a lively episode of the Reboot Chronicles, says that even though Dermalogica today is sold in more than 80 countries by more than 100,000 skincare professionals, it is still very much defined by the core principles established by co-founders Jane and Raymond—dedication to education, personalization, human touch and sustainability. Human Touch, in particular, he says, is a point of difference for the them, always driving the brand to want to find new ways to connect with consumers.

Saving an Industry (No Touching)

As the 2020 pandemic hit, Dermalogica saw the drastic impacts it was having on skin therapists—in 20,000 salons worldwide—that have been so central to the company’s success and immediately called upon their education roots to help them.

The brand implemented a number of programs to support this community including starting an affiliate sales program to help increase commission rates for all accounts; offering free returns; extending credit card payment terms; doubling digital streaming classes and creating business resources that ranged from financial planning guides to online marketing opportunities, digital classes and bi-weekly live streams.

Scaling Personalization and Education

They also introduced a program called Clean Touch, which provided a safe way for skin therapists and consumers to continue to engage, at a time when it was off limits. Dermalogica even scaled up certification classes to industry professionals on how to survive and thrive—and rapidly certified and astounding 60,000 therapists! This is now expanding into more hard-core educational programs across sectors.

Aurelian has also been an innovator in using technology to enhance consumer engagement. For example, Dermalogica utilizes AI powered face mapping, which is essentially a personalized assessment for consumers to get professional insights into their unique skin needs—making personalization both a product and a service—and they are just getting started.

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