Since 2015, Anne-Marie Kline has held the title of Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, for Living Proof, a hair care brand founded in scientific innovation and technology originating from MIT. “We are not about in-and-out trends, we look at the macro landscape and go after problems consumers are grappling with, i.e. treating scalp issues by balancing the microbiome,” said Anne-Marie, who was named as one of Business Insider’s Most Creative Women in Advertising. “We are all about using technology to save you time by delivering products that actually live up to their promises.” Established in 2005, it took Living Proof four years to create a product line. According to data firm The NPD Group, the brand has had many firsts. Their Perfect Hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo is the best-selling prestige dry shampoo, and the company is the leading brand in prestige hair care. Two years ago, Unilever acquired the brand, and this April, they will launch a three-product system. Over the years Living Proof has created 30 patents, introduced more than 50 products and has won 150-plus awards. As one can imagine, Anne-Marie has played a large part in the company’s innovation and success. Somehow, she found time to talk with CEW’s Beauty Insider.
Beauty Insider: What changes have you made within the company since you’ve held your current title?
Anne-Marie Kline: When I came on, we were spending all of our marketing dollars on traditional tactics: print advertising, sampling and celebrity. We had very little digital presence around our launches. I flipped that on its head and shifted toward a content marketing approach serving educational, informative and inspiring content that addresses whatever our consumer is looking for, such as ingredient explainers, tutorials, before and after photos. We do that through social—both organic and paid, influencers and our larger digital ecosystem. We dipped our toes in early with podcasts and have found that to be a great space for our storytelling, too.
BI: What are some specific strategies you’re using to reach a younger consumer?
AMK: We’ve found our consumer is more about a specific life stage or mentality than about an age. They are smart people who value smart products. Almost everything we formulate is designed to save time, so we have naturally found a niche from moms with young children to fitness enthusiasts. Throughout our marketing we put forth a lot of effort toward reaching consumers at all different life stages—not just the younger ones. First, there is the way we target our digital advertising, which from an age perspective, sometimes shifts from product to product. We’ve advertised in podcasts with two female hosts to news programs. There are the different programs we create for our retailers and salons. There is our influencer outreach that runs the gamut from those under 20 years old to those over 40.
BI: What is the marketing strategy behind your forthcoming product?
AMK: We went to great lengths to thoughtfully and credibly make the claim that our system makes your hair color last two times longer than a prestige color care shampoo and conditioner. We’ll be bringing that to life across all our different touchpoints.
BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
AMK: Perception is reality.
BI: Greatest accomplishment thus far?
AMK: Beauty is usually built on what is the latest and greatest product – the shiny object. Maintaining the number one prestige dry shampoo spot with Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo since its launch in 2015 is a big accomplishment. Our Dry Shampoo formula is awesome because it actually cleans hair, and we have never let up telling people this. We have an always-on mentality and that has been instrumental in maintaining the number-one spot.
BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?
AMK: Regimens are very popular in skin and in color cosmetics. They should be big in hair as well. At Living Proof we are all about getting you to use less product and go longer between washes. In the spring 2017 we did a digital campaign called Healthy Hair Your Way which was all about adopting a Living Proof regimen. We tried a new tactic on one of the most popular platforms that many brands hadn’t been using and it just wasn’t right. The consumer behavior just isn’t there. They still aren’t sold on the idea that they should buy into a hair care regimen—yet. I really like to learn from my mistakes, then move on.
BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
AMK: Kate Somerville’s Wrinkle Warrior. I like that it is a plumping moisturizer and a serum. I love the color of the packaging and the dispenser. It also feels amazing when you spread it across your skin.
BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
AMK: Never think you are above anything or anybody. Don’t be in a rush to run up the ladder. Put in the effort to learn as much as you can in whatever position or level you are in, it may not always go up the ladder. Your career is more akin to latticework, spreading out from all angles versus going in one direction.
BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?
AMK: The business is a living, breathing organism and will have a life of its own. Our jobs as marketers is to be the best voice of the consumer and guide the organization to serve their needs when they have them. This doesn’t necessarily follow the perfectly written business plan.
BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
AMK: Be kind and courageous.
BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?
AMK: Live in the present. Love yourself and others will too.