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
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.
Creating the Next-Gen
Heather credits Revlon’s success in navigating the pandemic to the team’s chemistry, reinvigorated during a global lockdown, with an urgency to retool market approaches, growth plans and cost structures. She says their willingness to challenge her, and the open lines of communications they enjoyed, enabled her to drive innovation by working with the team together as a whole. She’s keen on shifting from a build-it culture toward a nimbler Build, Buy or Borrow (partnering) culture—where you can create, test, learn and scale almost anything—from hybrid business models and ecommerce personalization to the next-level of customer experiences and partnerships that offer more cost-efficient global reach.
Many, in industry and financial circles, are betting on the Revlon Reboot team, viewing them as the challenger/underdog organization, which I can say firsthand, is an advantageous status. With the restructuring of 2020 behind them, keep an eye on how this team creates the next-generation of growth and innovation—some of which can been found in their full-year 2020 results released today.
Listen in to Heather’s Reboot story in-action here or wherever you listen to podcasts.
About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast: Hosted by Dean DeBiase
The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles
Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean