The COPYGOLD blog

Here you'll find the things and events that inspire and shape the work of New York-based advertising copywriter Katja Bartholmess. A trend spotter, fashion friend, globetrotter and party host, she promises to entertain and delight. -- Tends to be opinionated, so read at your own peril.

Mindy Grossman at CEW

"Who was number 1? Oprah?" asked Mindy Grossman's daughter when she heard that her mother was voted one of the world's 100 most powerful women by Forbes Magazine.

Apparently, it's easier to impress one of the world's leading business publications than it is your own children. But Mindy Grosmann, CEO of HSN, the 24 hour Home Shopping Network, has a great sense of humor. At this week's Women in Beauty event, organized by Cosmetic Executive Women, she talked about developing the beauty segment at HSN.

When Mindy left Nike to join HSN in 2006, the shopping network was merely a selling vehicle. It was her mission to turn it into an experiential vehicle that sells.

Beauty is a great business driver as it's telegenic and can be brought to life on TV and the other outlets that HSN uses (they stream not only for television but online and on mobile devices). "We wanted to market beauty in the most inspirational way." Mindy says. And it made sense to grow that segment as 80% of the customers are women. When she was thinking about strategically growing beauty, it was about ownership of an idea, not just following someone else's lead. She aksed herself: "What could we really own?"

And the answer was --> Fragrance.

She was met with skepticism. People wanted to know how to "show" a scent. "But it's not about the smell," Mindy argued. "Let's just assume it smells nice." And she set about to develop ideas on how to create a world and an experience around a fragrance. Like VH 1's "Behind the Music," she wanted to grant the viewers access to the world behind the fragrance. To create a fantasy world around the scent.

It works. Sean John's new perfume, for instance, sold out within 45 minutes.

A key to selling products, she says, is getting people excited. "People are so overwhelmed and so distracted. The products that get people excited and create a reason, are the ones that manage to cut through the clutter."

Despite their continued growth -- HSN just had their most profitable quarter in its 32 years of existence -- the economy did affect the shopping network.

"We did see changed shopping behavior," she said, "The spending ceiling came down as people have less resources for disretionary spending." But the beauty segment remained strong. After all: "Beauty is the most affordable luxury."

It was Mindy Grossman's approach to provide women with a destination, an escape. "We wanted to continue to be there for her -- even if she can't afford to shop with us right now. HSN is the place where she feels right, where her favorite brands are and where she'll only hear great news."

The first audience member to pose a question exclaimed "You are fabulous" and everyone agreed, clapping. I found her very engaging -- not to mention wildly persuasive. I had downloaded the HSN iPhone App before she was even done talking. So I hope you've enjoyed the read...

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