INTERVIEW: Salvatore Mauceri - Global Managing Director Wella Professionals

We had the pleasure of meeting Salvatore Mauceri, Wella Professional’s Global Managing Director on his very first trip to New Zealand. He was here to attend the national final of the Wella Trend Vision Awards in Wellington and the launch in Parnell, Auckland.

Can you tell us about yourself and your role at Wella Professionals?

I joined Wella about 10 years ago. I moved from Canada to the United States to run their sales organisation and worked the North American integration of Wella into P & G. Then I moved to Switzerland, took over their distributor businesses as part of Salon Professional and about 3 years ago I took over Latin America, Central Eastern Europe and Asia. We grouped ANZ as part of our Asian organisation just simply because of geography. So I am Global Managing Director now for about ninety countries.

How do you manage all that?

It’s a great question, but it is all about making sure we have the right people in the right spots. It’s really about putting very strong teams in place. We have a great team here in the entire ANZ organisation led by David Dias.

Does the professional hair market vary per country or are they essentially the same?

Interestingly enough there some significant commonalities. For example the stylists need education, no matter where they are, they need inspiration, no matter where they are. Salon owners have the same needs as they are all looking at ways of selling more OTC to build their business and service offerings and there’s also the challenge in recruiting and retaining staff. So there are a lot of commonalities all around the world. But then there are some very distinct differences where it gives me a real opportunity to learn from one market and reapply it to another. For example Brazil. It’s an incredibly ‘Care’ intensive market and ‘Straightening’ is very important there. They are very discerning when it comes to products in that area. So where we are able to provide a solution to Brazil, we then look at countries that cluster with similar needs. Certain countries in Asia have the same hair colour, similar hair types and have similar needs. In China ‘Perm’ is extremely important as compared with Brazil where it is ‘Straightening.’ So we see distinct opportunities around the world that we can very quickly reapply to other markets.

What challenges does a global brand like Wella Professionals face?

I think that as a global brand and one of the biggest players in the world, we have an added responsibility to help elevate the industry. And I take that personally and so within our global leadership team we really look at ways where this can be achieved. We may not be as fast as some of the small players that might find unique opportunities around the world - which we think is great and we want that to continue to happen because we need the industry to evolve.

But we have this added responsibility to help drive; whether it’s education, whether it’s sustainability, we need to be at the forefront. Innovation is very important to us and I’m not talking about pockets of differences. I’m talking about step change innovation in colour. We see that today with which takes foils out of the equation of multi-tonal colour. This is a step change. We need to do that to continue to drive the growth of stylists and the industry itself.

Lately everyone is pushing responsible sustainability, what are your feelings on this?

Sustainability in general is a sexy topic but we take very seriously and sometimes we have to focus on the nuts and bolts. We look at sustainability from manufacturing to selling the product. We spend a lot of time in reducing our manufacturing footprint which is significant for a company the size of Proctor & Gamble. For us it is not a Wella initiative - it is a P&G initiative. We are expecting from our suppliers now to look at ways to be much more energy efficient and we are doing the same thing in our plants. So from reducing our carbon footprint and reducing our energy to reducing our contribution to landfills, that’s a big effort on the manufacturing side. On the product side simple things like reducing the sizes of packaging has been a significant effort for us, we have come a long way and we are going continue to drive that.

When you get down to the product itself, illumina Color uses a significantly less amount of water when it comes to rinsing out. So the combination of illumina Color and rinsing and using less water is a huge effort, taking it right down to the salon which are our partners. We have got that we have set up. If you go on to that website you will see how we are educating salon owners on the little things that they can do, that really add up.

We are still at the forefront but this is an area that we believe we need to continue to drive from the back to the front. I think the thing that differentiates us versus many others, is our approach in getting our suppliers to do the right thing, getting us to do the right thing, getting our partners to do the right thing but more importantly what we need to is educate on what needs to happen. So it’s all about sharing the knowledge that we get, in order to help contribute to something that’s really important.

What advice you can offer salon owners to help grow their business?

First of all I go into thousands of salons and so I’ve seen it all. At the end of the day we have an obligation to the stylists and to the salon owners, so we have a new programme which we are actually going to be launching in ANZ soon. We call it ‘Activate your salon’ It’s all about getting our sales reps to talk less about selling products and truly being consultants.

We have an entire programme now that talks about all the ‘influencing points in a salon’ whether it’s about branding the salon, whether it’s educating the receptionist who greets and the last person that says goodbye to the customer, to the back bar and to services. Educating how and why services are important and how do you really help drive the thinking behind the ‘influencing points’ at the styling stations. So it’s all about having those points of interest within the salon and helping the stylists and the salon owner to see how they can do their part in driving that point of interest.

For the stylist it is about their contribution to the salon owner and the salon and secondly why that brings value to them. With stylists it’s really about education and recognising where we feel, we can help them. Whether it’s colour correction or on the inspiration side, at the end of the day we want the client to have a great experience It’s all about walking through the salon and getting influence to each of those customers in a positive way.

The International Wella Trend Vision Awards are in Frankfurt this year, what can we expect?

It’s is going to be very different because people have seen our International Trend Vision. We have just done one here and it was a great success. You have some great talented stylists here in New Zealand. I think people are going to come and be surprised. It’s not going to be a stand alone event this year Wella will stand alongside Hairworld.

Our goal this year is to merge our ITYA within Hairworld and to give the stylists that have competed, a stage within Hairworld. Our stylists have the opportunity to leverage the excitement and the pull that Hairworld has. The plans that I’ve seen over the pass three to six months do that brilliantly. I’m looking forward to a very exciting event! It’s going to be fun!

What are your thoughts on Social Media?

What is going to be a big feeder for us is social and digital! I am really excited about what we are doing in terms of education, reaching more people and how we leverage digital and social networking as a staple part of our business. At the end of the day we need to reach more stylists and I think we now have a platform that allows us to do that in a much more exciting way. We love it and stylists love it! Do you know that the biggest friends Wella has, as a percentage of the population, are from Romania! Social media just turns predictable things upside down. It’s really about reaching people where ever they are. Saudi Arabia another huge following, it’s unbelievable what we now can do and achieve on a worldwide basis.

From where you sit, how do you see the state of the industry?

I think that this is such an exciting industry but I believe it is a relationship business and I feel strongly that within P&G we need to make sure that we have managers that stay within this business for a while because it gives us the opportunity to really understand and to build relationships. And you know P&G is a huge company that offers great career opportunities for our middle and upper managers and one of the things that I think we are doing very well now, is that we are maintaining that continuity of really understanding this business and the industry and being able to contribute in a big way. And that for me has been a huge and exciting piece of the role I play.

What innovations can we look forward to from Wella Professionals?

I am very excited about, we’ve launched in Europe, we are sequencing it now over here and we are also going to be launching in Latin America soon. It’s success has been unbelievable! We are very excited about it because it’s a product that puts the focus on service, the skill of the stylist and the craftsmanship of the stylist. So in my mind it brings focus on multi-tonal colour and gives focus on giving the customer a much better experience. And it’s also quick for salons, you can do a multicolour service much quicker without foils, so it frees up the stylist so they can be much more creative. For me it’s a Win Win Win in multiple areas, I think you are going to start to see some very exciting innovation from us and this one is a great one!

Where does Australia and New Zealand stand on the world stage?

Australia and New Zealand are very important for us, they are key markets. I think the structure that we have now, where rather than reporting strictly within an Asian region, they are now into my global organisation, it really allows me to take commercial or global initiatives from any where in the world and drive it into New Zealand. So for example; I can take something that works in the UK or in Europe and immediately drive it into ANZ.

Historically when it was in the Asian region it was a little bit too much, of what was happening in that region, which of course was influenced by the China’s, the India’s and the Japan’s of the world. This kinda frees up Australia and New Zealand to really truly win on it’s own merits in a big way. It’s one reason I am excited to be here because I really believe this is an area where we have still huge potential. I am very happy about it, we have a great team here led by David and we have seen the business accelerate! Innovations like and some of the things that we have got planned in the not too distant future, are going to be great, so hopefully I will be back talking to you again soon!

What are your impressions of New Zealand?

So as I am driving, I go ‘Note to self’... I love that area, I love this area! Somebody asked me are you going to go and eat at a couple of the posh restaurants and I said no... We are going to have a ‘White Lady’ burger because everybody says that’s what you have when you are here! Coming from the US there is ‘IN-N-Out Burger’ in California that is incredibly well known for their burgers and I’ve been told here you have to try a ‘White Lady.’ Except that today when I visited one of our customers they swore that ‘Ferg Burgers’ in Queenstown was the best in New Zealand! I have not been to Queenstown yet, but I’ve been told it’s very similar to Switzerland and that a lot of adventure sports have come out of there. It needs to be experienced! So the next I come over I am planning to take a little tour through there.

So where are you off to from here?

I head back to Geneva first and then over to Singapore to meet some distributors that are coming in there and then I’m off to The China Trend Vision Awards. I was at the Brazil one recently, which was fantastic! But the China Trend Vision Awards are going to be special because of Wella’s ‘30 years in China’ celebrations. I am usually on the road about 80% of the time and the problem is major time zones, but I love it!.. You gotta love this business. It’s a very exciting business and I think it’s a great time to be part of Wella...It really is. We are running on all cylinders!