When Sennen Pamich joined the Coty Professional Beauty team in November 2018, he brought well-honed beauty business acumen to his new role as senior vice president of its Professional Beauty Division in North America, based in Calabasas, California. Having lifelong experience in the business, this Italian-born innovator has worked with some of the biggest beauty names globally and now applies his worldly, big-picture view to a fairly young division that nevertheless boasts a robust product portfolio. And the timing, for both Pamich and the company, could not be better.
“I joined Coty Professional because I wanted to work for a marketleader in an industry I fell in love with on day one,” Pamich explains. “I realized that my 360-degree strategic perspective and experience in organization- and business-building, especially in complex and fast-changing environments, could help the professional division. Coty was integrating brands with the acquisition of the former Procter & Gamble (P&G) specialty beauty brands, and there were many complexities to address.”
Indeed, despite much-publicized adjustments needed in Coty’s consumer space, Pamich retains an optimistic outlook for the future of its solidly performing pro division, now stocked with iconic legacy brands. He recently sat down with Beauty Store Business to discuss his latest role and how he plans to ensure even more success for Coty’s Professional Beauty Division in years to come.
Though Pamich is Italian by birth, he was educated in both Europe and the United States, after which he worked internationally for much of his life, largely in the beauty sphere. He started his career in Italy at P&G, worked at Johnson & Johnson in Switzerland and Korea, then moved back to Switzerland to manage Bulgari’s global fragrance and cosmetics business. Pamich returned to the U.S. in 2009 to lead brands as the global president of Revlon Professional Beauty, growing the brands within The Colomer Group and then integrating them into Revlon. Just before joining Coty last November, he advised businesses on investments, mergers and acquisitions in a private equity group.
Self-described as “a marketer by trade and a leader by experience,” he admits he was first attracted to the role thanks to an ongoing admiration of Coty–in the past, a competitor with a professional portfolio that included several market-leading brands. “Who wouldn’t want to work with iconic brands like Wella, OPI and Clairol Pro?” he asks. “And I was impressed by the world-class talent I saw in the organization, from the sales and education teams to the back office group.”
However, he adds, Coty was also an organization that had been through momentous change during what became a protracted merger period (closing the deal took more than one year). But Pamich saw those challenges as opportunities. “I felt strongly that I could lead the business to the next level through positive transformation, external and internal collaboration, and accountability to the customer,” he says. “There were definitely some challenges apparent at the time I joined the company–most notably, difficulties stemming from a change in the supply chain structure–but we have worked through them with a singular organizational focus on serving our customers with the best products."
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
In what Pamich calls the biggest merger in the history of beauty, Coty acquired dozens of brands from P&G in 2015–encompassing professional players like Wella, Nioxin, Sebastian and Clairol, as well as retail hair care, fragrances and cosmetics. Fast forward to 2019, and a July article in The Wall Street Journal reported that the company, generating $9 billion in annual revenue, was taking a $3 billion write-down on acquired brands like CoverGirl as sales slumped in the wake of more consumers flocking to “higher-end and niche” beauty products. Pamich, of course, acknowledges the recent coverage in the financial press on the bumps the Coty consumer division has experienced but asserts that the pro division has proven much more stable. “It’s no secret that mass-market beauty brands, like Coty’s CoverGirl, have been seeing radical changes as consumer buying habits evolve–and, of course, our business has seen change with the advent of distribution consolidation and the rise of omnichannel buying,” Pamich details. “But when the beauty professional is at the heart of everything you do, you have a touchstone that keeps your business on track. We, as the Professional Beauty Division in North America, have continued to pursue the same mission we always have: leveraging our powerful portfolio of professional brands to bring quality, high-performing products to the beauty professional and her clients.”
Indeed, Coty boasts a wide portfolio of exclusive and open line products, while, Pamich points out, “very deliberately” pursuing an omnichannel approach. Its open line brands, Clairol Professional and Wella Color Charm, are available at professional heritage beauty stores such as Sally, while its Wella Professionals and Kadus color brands and OPI professional products are sold primarily at CosmoProf stores, as well as via Beauty Systems Group’s (BSG) street team and Coty’s own direct sales organization. Meanwhile, care and styling lines, including Nioxin, Sebastian, and Wella Professionals’ Eimi and Invigo, are displayed in the professional section of beauty stores like Ulta in the United States and Canada, as well as in pro stores. “Our newest brand, GHD styling 20November 2019 |beautystorebusiness.comtools, is a high-end line marketed to pros and discerning consumers in selected beauty stores,” Pamich notes. “These are amazing brands that have a clear professional heritage and equity.”
He adds that the pro portfolio remains strong: “Wella’s Koleston Perfect is one of the leading salon colors in the world; OPI is the top brand globally for nail salons; Nioxin created a category for professional solutions to thinning hair and still leads it,” Pamich says. “The history is there—our iconic Clairol Professional brand brought color education to an entire generation of salon professionals and remains an innovator in the space.”
In addition to that heritage, one of Coty’s many advantages, Pamich believes, is its dedicated professional beauty research team, located in Germany for hair care and in the Los Angeles-area headquarters for nail care. The haircare team, for example, helped launch a revamp of the Wella Professionals Koleston Perfect color, with a new formula that minimizes free-radical formation “to create pure, balanced color root to tip while eliminating key hair color allergens–a real breakthrough for both the colorist and the client,” Pamich says.
Though Coty has stamped itself as a major name in both the consumer and pro beauty spaces, Pamich is quick to note that Coty as a corporate entity is a new company, with not much history in professional beauty. “They acquired OPI in 2010 but never really integrated it, so when the P&G merger came along, there was an opportunity to create a full, powerful beauty portfolio by adding professional hair brands,” he explains. “With such a rich portfolio, Coty has already become one of the top players in professional beauty, now covering all channels and all key salon services. With Wella Professionals, Clairol Professional, Wella Color Charm, Sebastian, Nioxin and Kadus, we can offer beauty professionals and consumers color, care and styling products at a variety of price points."
NEW AND NEXT
In a fast-changing landscape, Coty executives are doubling down on their social media focus, in efforts to reach both beauty professionals and consumers. “Each of our brands has its own unique social community, and we work with relevant influencers to tell our stories authentically,” Pamich says. “For instance, for our Nioxin brand, we partnered with ‘mommy blogger’ influencers to talk about the challenges and changes that post-pregnancy hair density poses for new moms. Our Seb Man brand works with a skater, a fashion blogger, a biker and a very cool barber, among others, who understand and live men’s grooming.”
Coty also works with celebrity partners to drive awareness and engagement with its brands. Recently, on the Wella Professionals platform, the company showcased one of its key influencers, Sophie Turner, who played Sansa on Game of Thrones. “She was able to share her authentic story of how Wella color and care transformed her hair,” Pamich enthuses. “Both our professional and consumer followers loved it!”
Finally, complementing its brand platforms are the Wella Education communities, which (despite the name) covers Coty’s full portfolio of brands, as experienced by the beauty professional. “Our WellaEd Instagram (@wellaeducation) alone is made up of more than 700,000 beauty pros engaged in a vibrant conversation on techniques, business tips and inspiration,” Pamich notes. “We share content from pros all over the world, as well as from all of our brand influencers.”
While hustling to keep pace with today’s dynamic consumer and pro markets, Pamich admits the obvious–that the major challenge for everyone (retailers, manufacturers and marketers alike) is to capture buyers’ attention in such a complex, crowded marketplace. However, he believes that such a landscape can actually benefit his realm within Coty. “The internet has dialed up the pace and the volume of change, and that has created a beauty consumer, whether professional or ‘pro-sumer,’ who is educated, sophisticated and skeptical,” Pamich explains. “I believe that change operates to the advantage of the professional beauty business, especially for the Coty Professional brands, because we have real, solid benefits to communicate, as well as the performance features that knowledgeable beauty buyers demand today. Our brand stories are credible and compelling, and they’re backed up with the research, rigor and disciplined testing of professionals worldwide. Our key challenge as an industry is to amp up awareness of professional beauty by telling our brand stories with passion–in the salon, store and online.”
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