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March 12, 2021 30 min

When Heather Wallace joined Revlon as President of Americas just about a year ago, she had a plan— to reboot the iconic brand and help prepare it for the future. Then, before she could even meet her team, the pandemic hit.

And as Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I talked with Heather about how she grabbed the wheel of this 90-year-old brand, took on a reboot challenge of truly historic proportions, and orchestrated an agile pivot inside an already tough turnaround.

“We are well positioned to capture the reemerging opportunities ... accelerating brands,

China and e-commerce.”

Revlon president and CEO Debbie Perelman

COVID Wrenches

Like many in-retail brands, the 2020 lockdowns threw a wrench into topline revenues—dropping a whopping 20%. However, these punched in the face impacts also created growth optionality that Revlon can seize upon now—my favorite being the growth of their ecommerce businesses, which was jolted up to 20% of revenues.

“We are seeing signs of broader positive momentum in the business, and with several major 2020 challenges behind us, we believe we are well positioned to capture the reemerging opportunities in the beauty industry…Revlon plans to focus on accelerating brands, China and e-commerce going forward.”  Revlon president and CEO Debbie Perelman

Right Team – Right Time

As Revlon quickly discovered, they brought in the right leader at the right time. Heather is an inspiring leader, and according to her competitors, a tough operator who delivers.

While Revlon had already been in the process of making much-needed changes when Heather joined, including the Revlon 2020 Restructuring Program, the pandemic brought about a whole host of new challenges. With the beauty industry getting hammered, the crisis forced her to navigate the existing culture while increasing the speed of change and adjusting—often on the fly—to significant shifts in consumer shopping habits.

Rather than focusing on the negatives that faced them, she and her team stayed unified in working towards a common goal, which she says enabled them to adapt well to a shifting environment.

The effort was anchored by an emphasis on consumer analysis, which Heather says allowed her team to assess how purchasing habits were changing and how to best meet new consumer needs and demands.

As a result, Revlon was able to effectively identify what consumers were looking for and where and what their preferences were for engaging with brands, influencers and products.

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