The Strategy INTERVIEW

Joseph PorcelliPresident, Revlon CanadaJoseph Porcelli manages the Canadian operation of Revlon, a worldwide personal care company with a broad range of products such as Revlon cosmetics and fragrances, Prestige Fragrances, Almay and Ultima II cosmetics, Flex hair care and Mitchum anti-perspirant.Porcelli...

Joseph Porcelli


Revlon Canada

Joseph Porcelli manages the Canadian operation of Revlon, a worldwide personal care company with a broad range of products such as Revlon cosmetics and fragrances, Prestige Fragrances, Almay and Ultima II cosmetics, Flex hair care and Mitchum anti-perspirant.

Porcelli worked with Elizabeth Arden and Merck, Sharp & Dohme before joining Revlon in 1975, and has since held senior executive positions with Revlon in Mexico, New York and Paris.

Before his current position, Porcelli was president of Revlon U.K. Export, responsible for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He is a member of the board of directors, Sports Celebrities Festival for Special Olympics Canada and an active board member with the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (cctfa) and CCTFA Foundation which runs the Look Good… Feel Better Program for female cancer patients.

Porcelli is married with two sons.

Q. What is Revlon’s main channel of distribution?

A. The drugstore business is the biggest channel of distribution for our products.

Revlon and Almay are mainly sold in drugstores, but there is also some department store business. Ultima is primarily sold in department stores, with some crossover to drugstores.

Our beauty care products such as shampoo and anti-perspirants are mainly in drugstores and food stores but there is also some spillover into department stores.

Q. Are store brands a threat? Is your shelf space shrinking because of them?

A. They’re a real threat because it means a segment of the market doesn’t become available to us.

Our shelf space has not been shrinking because of the quality of [Revlon's] product – we’re gearing ourselves to somewhat of a different customer [than store brands.]

Q. How important is your relationship with the retailer? How does the relationship work?

A. I would say the relationship is of paramount importance. With London Drugs in the West, for example, we were their supplier of the year [in 1990 and 1992.]

In Shoppers Drug Mart, we have a very solid relationship which continues to grow. So much so, that they asked me to be their guest speaker at their annual suppliers’ dinner this past January.

I was asked to share with the other suppliers, including my competitors, how we work in partnership because Shoppers wanted the rest of its suppliers to emulate Revlon.

We work hand in hand with them with the goal of not only getting the product into the store on the shelf but getting it into the hands of the consumer.

Product ordering is a joint responsibility and we ensure along with the retailer that the product sells through and is replenished at the proper rate.

We relieve the stores of stockkeeping and merchandising our products so they can spend their time servicing customers.

Q. What are the differences in marketing approach and positioning for each brand group sold by Revlon?

A. The brands are definitely split by price, but also by demographics.

For example, advertising for Revlon color cosmetics has a younger, fashion image. Ultima II is a higher fashion line, with a more upscale price and a department, rather than drugstore, image.

Almay, the hypo-allergenic brand, has a whole different customer. It can be sold to any age group and is targetted to someone worried about fragrance in cosmetics and wanting dermatologist-tested products.

Q. How has the Revlon image been created and how is it maintained?

A. It’s important to be in magazines because that’s where women learn of the latest fashion trends.

We’re in the major Canadian fashion magazines and in a lot of u.s. magazines that cross over into Canada.

We believe strongly in our print advertising and electronic advertising.

In addition to that, we also do things for Revlon cosmetics and Mitchum on the Jumbotron at the SkyDome during Blue Jays games and at Olympic stadium in Montreal with the Expos.

We were the first, last year, to have a moving commercial, complete with music, on the Jumbotron.

We’re now starting a new campaign with airplanes – flying billboards – in Toronto first.

Last fall, and through ski season, we had the Revlon Dream Machines, two helicopters at ski resorts to take people to the top of the ski hill and it was an overwhelming success.

Q. Canada’s demographics are changing and the ethnic and aging segments are increasing? What product and image changes does the cosmetic industry need to make?

A. We are changing as our customers change.

In our advertising, we’re keeping up to date with our consumers’ desires and lifestyles.

The basis for introducing any new product is need, and that is determined with the help of our market research arm.

I think it’s true that we need to have different people representing different age groups in our advertising.

In terms of treatment, model Lauren Hutton will be the spokesperson for our new Revlon Results line and she’s over 40.

Veronica Webb, the first black model to receive a cosmetic modelling contract, represents our Colorstyle line for women with darker skin.

In color cosmetics segments our shade range is wide enough that it appeals to all kinds of people and the image they want to project.

Q. What about the environmental impact of your products and the abundance of packaging for it?

A. We’re sensitive to these issues and within our office we have a blue box program and reusable items instead of things like styrofoam.

We want to become as environmentally friendly as possible.

Not just to be in tune with the political statements but because we believe in it.

We relaunched our nail enamel line earlier this year to make it toluene-free because that ingredient has been shown that it can cause cancer in some animals.

We have also removed formaldehyde from all of our products.

In terms of our packaging, we have started a program to reduce packaging and move into recyclable packaging where we can. We will continue to reduce our packaging and have specific programs to do that.

Q. Where do you see opportunities for future growth in the cosmetics industry?

A. One new area is the Look Good…Feel Better program which is helping Canadian women going through cancer treatment.

This is a special program sponsored by the cosmetics industry through the cctfa where we donate product and money to help women going through chemotherapy, for example, who lose their hair or have blotches and skin discoloration.

They’re going through a tough personal crisis and then these physical changes occur and that only makes them feel worse.

We help them through a series of different products so they feel better about themselves – and attitude is so important to recovery.

Doctors are starting to recognize that people with a positive attitude seem to recover better than those that don’t.

This is an area where Revlon, in particular, and the industry, in general, has moved into the forefront.

Cosmetic companies are also moving into the area of skincare products that protect skin from the environment and those containing non-irritating ingredients.