CEW UK President Caroline Neville MBE speaks with television presenter, beauty industry consultant and author of The Beauty Insider, Alison Young.
Can you briefly describe how you first got into the beauty industry?
My beauty career started when I qualified as a therapist and makeup artist. I then worked as a celebrity facialist and that’s where I realised the difference beauty products can make, which was invaluable. I also worked front of house in many beauty retailers across the UK, which gave me on-the-ground insight into the industry. Later, I set up my own consultancy business where I travelled the world launching some of today’s household names. This gave me an opportunity to meet and treat around 100,000 customers and I trained 10,000 other professionals and companies. Today, I advise at board level for both global brand names and start-ups.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at QVC?
QVC is one of my longest-standing clients. I first presented the idea of a premium beauty show to them 29 years ago, pre-social media, so it was considered a radically new retailing concept at the time. The most valuable lesson I have learnt is how to grasp, understand and grow new retailing opportunities. Today, I continue to help brands understand how TV shopping can be a hugely beneficial tool for them to succeed.
With all the knowledge you’ve acquired during your career, what’s the piece of advice or tip you come back to most often?
The advice I constantly come back to is: be true to your customer. One satisfied customer multiplied by X creates a successful and growing business as it results in repeat purchases and they influence others through reviews and social media, as well as word of mouth.
What excites you most about the beauty industry today?
The beauty industry has always been exciting, even more so now with the amount of resources and products available, as well as the ease of access to different markets. However, quick growth can cause issues for brands, particularly when they don’t know their customer and continue to grow without a captive audience.
What, in your mind, makes a successful beauty brand?
To me, it’s one that understands, and is respectful to, the end user and uses diverse retailing platforms with sustained growth for longevity. I take great pride in knowing my book The Beauty Insider is used by major brands as a training tool for staff, plus it also offers a link to help customers better understand the industry.
How do you want your readers and followers to feel when they engage with your work?
My readers and followers can be anyone from a hardworking person juggling two kids and two jobs to a CEO of a global brand. As an author with a TV and social media presence, I believe it’s important to reflect both my 1:1 belief for customers along with my business ethos. As a brand consultant and content creator, my role is to present ideas to CEOs so they can understand how to effectively retail to their customers via different platforms, including TV. It’s all about honesty, integrity and staying true to your beliefs for your whole career, whether you are in front of the camera, on social media or in the boardroom.
What do you consider to be the beauty industry’s biggest challenge?
The beauty industry’s biggest challenge is the fight for the high street and working to increase footfall, while offering experiences that coordinate with social and multi-platform campaigns. Electronic retailing is booming and virtual events and consultations have certainly had to develop quickly with the pandemic. Moving towards a new face-to-face future is possible, however, and can
offer some exciting and diverse opportunities
What is your proudest career achievement?
My proudest career achievement would have to be the continued growth and diversity of my consultancy business from advising brands on product formulation to customer interfacing skills and multi-platform retailing. I’m also proud of the work I’ve done
in teaching companies how to maximise their business through TV shopping and making it work for them. With my consultancy and through content creation, broadcasting and social media, we can act as a portal to success that helps directors and founders to grasp the best opportunities for their brand. It comes down to doing what I do best, which is knowing how to connect with a customer. ‘