72 - Silvia Galfo, Armani Beauty

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This is a podcast episode titled, 72 - Silvia Galfo, Armani Beauty. The summary for this episode is: <p>In Ep. 72 of Earned, Conor sits down with Silvia Galfo, general manager of Armani Beauty. We start by talking about influencers: when Silvia first realized their potential, and how the narrative—and budgets—around influencer marketing have shifted in recent years. Silvia describes how important it is for luxury brands to strike the right balance between establishing a brand-led narrative and giving up some control to creators. We also discuss how to divvy up the marketing budget with the increasing number of channels available today, and Silvia shares her test-and-learn philosophy. We then explore the world of fragrance marketing—a historically difficult vertical to market across social media. Silvia emphasizes the importance of entertaining your audience, and shares the success of a recent TikTok activation for Armani’s Acqua di Giò Profondo fragrance. To close the show, we discuss how to adapt your brand’s message to resonate across international markets, and why Silvia’s leadership style prioritizes nimbleness and agility.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>In this episode, you will learn:</strong></p><ol><li>How luxury brands' approach to influencer marketing has shifted in recent years</li><li>The importance of entertainment in fragrance marketing</li><li>Why you should adapt your brand's message to resonate across international markets </li></ol><p><br></p><p><strong>Key Takeaways</strong></p><p>[02:28] Why brands—including luxury brands—should lean into influencer marketing</p><p>[10:31] How Silvia divvies up the marketing budget across all of today's new channels</p><p>[13:39] How to effectively market fragrance on social media</p><p>[18:15] Why brands should adapt their messaging to resonate across different markets and cultures</p><p>[25:12] Why Silvia's leadership style prioritizes nimbleness and agility</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="https://www.loreal.com/en/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">L’ORÉAL’s website</a></li><li><a href="https://www.loreal.com/en/loreal-luxe/armani/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Giorgio Armani L’ORÉAL</a></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>Connect with the Guest:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/silvia-galfo-893a1a2b/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Silvia’s LinkedIn</a></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>Connect with Conor Begley &amp; CreatorIQ:</strong></p><ul><li>Conor’s LinkedIn -<a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/conormbegley/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @conormbegley</a></li><li>CreatorIQ LinkedIn -<a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/creatoriq/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @creatoriq</a></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>Follow us on social:</strong></p><ul><li>CreatorIQ YouTube -<a href="https://www.youtube.com/@TribeDynamics" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @TribeDynamics</a></li><li>CreatorIQ Instagram -<a href="https://www.instagram.com/creatoriq/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @creatoriq</a></li><li>CreatorIQ TikTok -<a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@creator.iq" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @creator.iq</a></li><li>CreatorIQ Twitter -<a href="https://twitter.com/CreatorIQ" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> @CreatorIQ</a></li></ul>
Why Luxury Brands Should Lean Into Influencer Marketing
02:21 MIN
How Silvia Divvies up the Marketing Budget Across Channels
02:53 MIN
How to Effectively Market Fragrance on Social Media
04:00 MIN
The Importance of Adapting Your Brand's Message to Resonate Across Cultures
02:57 MIN
Why Silvia's Leadership Style Prioritizes Nimbleness and Agility
04:02 MIN

Conor Begley: It's always fun for me when I have somebody on that I've known for a long time. Silvia was one of our earliest customers and one of our earliest advocates, as well as one of the most experienced marketing people we'll have on this podcast. Enjoy the show today, guys. remember, if you did, tell a friend, that's the best way you can help. Thanks.

Speaker 2: Explore the minds and marketing strategies behind today's winning brands and businesses. Tap into the power of the Creator economy with Earned by Creator IQ. Here's Conor Begley.

Conor Begley: Hi everyone. Welcome to Earned. Today, I've got Silvia Galfo here with us today. Welcome to the show, Silvia.

Silvia Galfo: Hi, Conor. Happy to be here with you today.

Conor Begley: Let's hop into it. I want to brag about you just for a second, only for those people that don't know you. Silvia spent the last 18 years in executive leadership across billion dollar brands. Whether that's at L'Oreal, with Lancome, or David Yurman or at Revlon, I think you're the SVP of marketing at Lancome, CMO at David Yurman, global brand president at Revlon. Now the GM at Armani Beauty. It's really impressive what you've accomplished and I'm excited to dig in today.

Silvia Galfo: Thank you. It's been obviously a ride. It's interesting because when you look back, I think at every brand, every experience brought something new to give it a new perspective on how you see your job, your role, and managing people. We have to always adjust. Whenever we learn or we experience, we have to then take that and bring it to the table in the next role we're doing. I think it's been a good ride with a lot of interesting highs and lows, but I always hit the high side of the glass half full and it was all great experience. But I think the biggest ride and biggest change for me was definitely this influencer strategy becoming such a big part of what we are doing. I think the different roles I did last eight years have each time made a big step change in the way I was seeing this as a strategic driver of the business. Each role was different and each role has a different impact and each role had a different way of approaching it. I think it's interesting also to see how it evolves for myself and how I approached that today. You know?

Conor Begley: Yeah, absolutely. Again, when you started to get into it, which was around 2015, it was just starting at that point. Right?

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: I was just interviewing, I was telling you Ken, the co- founder at Tula, which they were the number one brand in Ulta, prestige skincare brand at Ulta by sales, and he said they attributed over 50% of all revenue directly to influencers.

Silvia Galfo: Wow.

Conor Begley: Which is crazy. I don't know the exact price tag of that brand when it was bought, but it's probably a half a billion dollar acquisition or more. It's pretty wild. Go back 2015, what was it that made you say, " Hey, this is an area I should start paying attention to?"

Silvia Galfo: I was intrigued by this beauty influencer, whatever they call it at the time themselves, but I found it interesting because in a way it's like your friends talking about beauty, telling you how to apply it and you don't feel intimidated because she's like you. I think there was something that was really interesting and native to the beauty. It can affect everything, but I think most beauty where people might be intimidated, don't know how to apply product, feel like your soul store, when you go into a store. All this was neutralized by this influencer who was just passionate about a product sharing it. At the beginning there wasn't too much financial implication for them. They were just doing things because they were loving it. I always remember Nicole Guerrero, which was one of the first ones who were activating at the time. Things changed inaudible, but I still remember her because I think she was fascinating. Myself being a beauty junkie, I was fascinated by her saying, " Oh, actually I can learn even from her something new." There was something, again, I felt like was changing the beauty world out of the traditional media model and the makeup actually traditional media were not doing TV, print was very stale, there was a really digital media fury, so it was logic that this could be a really cool, interesting driver of brand awareness and brand engagement in a very authentic way for makeup. Also, the scale. I mean so quickly this girls' influencers could scale up. At the time it was more YouTube. It was not even TikTok and not even so much Instagram. It was more YouTube that they were operating on.

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: How quickly it could scale up that you get organic views and obviously the magic of boosting this content and getting two more people then. To me it was a new way of seeing media in an authentic way. Obviously there's always the fear from the brand saying, " Oh my God, the content is of the brand produced, so it's not irrespectful of the image of the brand." I think it was more the biggest barrier we would have to face, especially for luxury and saying, " Are we allowing someone else to create content for us, without giving up the control on the brand?"

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: It's been ongoing, the biggest barrier, but it has obviously changed a lot even for a brand like Armani.

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: It's interesting, this one for me was intriguing. There was something on authenticity, peer- to- peer recommendation and something which makes it very real. I think that definitely it made the whole makeup world more approachable and versus dictating top down the way you have to look per season and there's only one way to apply makeup or whatever that was. I think definitely changed and opened up, I think also the conception of this category.

Conor Begley: Yeah. I think going back to this idea of luxury, wanting to control the messaging and not really being able to. The story I've always liked was I was in Paris with one of the largest luxury brands in the world and I was showing them a bunch of data and it was all their leaders across the globe. This is early, this is probably 2017 or so. I showed them a bunch of data and I was showing them data on Chanel and the number one influencer for Chanel at the time was Jeffrey Star. He was the number one beauty influencer, but he also had pink hair, had Louis Vuitton tattooed on his knuckles, drove a pink Lamborghini, smoked weed on camera, not what you'd expect to be the face of Chanel.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: Somebody from the brand team raised their hand was like," Hey, I know this is really important, but we wouldn't want Jeffrey to be our number one influencer." I was like, " Well, he was talking about inclusivity versus exclusivity and whatever." Anyways, go home. We look at the data. He was the number one influencer for that brand as well. They just didn't know it. I think the reality is that as a luxury brand, you actually don't really have a choice as to whether or not you participate in this. It is happening to you all the time.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: Being able to control and shape that narrative is what ends up being critical in my mind.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, I agree with you. You cannot fight it and I think you have to embrace it. Again, it's okay. Your beauty ideal cannot be applied to your consumer. In a way, it's like you're a consumer plus, plus what an influencer is today.

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: The more actually this person uses the brand organically, the more authentic it looks and feels. But it's a ride. It's a ride and it's a lot of education. It's a lot of letting your guard down on certain things, but today you cannot not do it.

Conor Begley: Yeah, a hundred percent. I'd be curious, you talked about how much it's expanded in terms of its focus, but the size is really interesting or size of budget, because I remember when we first met. This is when we first had started working with L'Oreal, we were providing them with a bunch of data. It's very early, very experimental. They knew that it was working for Nick's, they were thinking about how it could apply to other businesses. Now today, at least based on my discussions with L'Oreal, it seems like it is now possibly the number one focus from a marketing perspective. I mean, if you look at, we see it in the data, where it's like CeraVe, La Roche, Posay, Redken. These brands are blowing up primarily via influencers. How has that narrative shifted and then how big is the budget now? Is it 10%, 20%, 30%? What percent of the marketing budget do influencers and social media take up?

Silvia Galfo: I mean, I think in many cases, and you almost double in the last two years in the total budget and then you probably compared to awareness media and before maybe it was like 20% social, 80% wireless media, and now we are getting to maybe closer to 50/50 or even inaudible in the future.

Conor Begley: Wow.

Silvia Galfo: Depends on the category, but definitely there is a shift of how, again, you build brand awareness, how you build brand engagement and trust. I think the trust is also very important with this model. It's not just blowing it up. I think when you look back eight years ago, it was about getting millions of views in a short term amount to get people see your video.

Conor Begley: Yep.

Silvia Galfo: Whether this influencer wasn't on tune with your brand, at this time, it was more very unilateral, blow it up, make yourself see by this person and make other people talk about it. I think today, I at least see it much more strategic and where you have different communities of influence, different type of inferences that you connect to and that you built a different community versus blowing up just scale and doing one- offs. I think before one- offs were fine. I always remember our conversation years later saying, you have to build a real community. You cannot just do a pay for play. You pay this influencer X thousand dollars, get a post and that's it. No, it doesn't work like that. I think it's even more so changed over the last few years and I feel like it's a different way of approaching it to be more strategic about it and using as a tool to build brand trust and authenticity versus just hammering it because it's easy to hammer. It's the question, the moment we have, the more influence you can get in, but how do you create this community to get also even organic reach and real brand love? You want to make sure that people really love the brand and this comes across when you see them posting on it. But again, I don't think it can replace traditional brand imagery or traditional brand media. I think it's the aspiration comes from everything which is brand led. Then, obviously you have the communities of influencers and advocates to nourish and fit into your overall brand story and brand communications, especially for inaudible brands, you're going to just go all the way into influence. You need to have a balance between goal. We've seen that, we've said this many times, it's not one or the other. It's when you combine both smartly together, you have the biggest impact.

Conor Begley: Yeah, I mean the impact can be enormous. I know that for me, and I think that if you're not thinking about it conceptually, if you're not following, " Beauty influencers," et cetera, you kind of miss it. But for me, I follow, there's a sports commentator who's got started on YouTube and he's now one of the largest in the world and he is a former player and he is done very, very well. This sounds silly, but he's talked about Bud Light for years. He's talked about that as being a straight beer and then Bud Light says, " Hey, let's do this. Let's become partners together." They've become a very large sponsor of the show. You have to think about it from that perspective. The audience of this creator has probably followed them for a very long time. They know everything they've talked about, what they're into, what they're not into, et cetera. Ideally the alignment is they love your brand and they talk about it, but even if it's just like, oh, they talk about sports gambling and you're really into that and that's what your brand does, that makes more sense. But where it doesn't work is we say, " Hey, you got this fashion influencer, they don't care about beauty, they don't like it. Their audience knows they don't like it, and you pay them to talk about you. It's one- off, it doesn't work. It's inauthentic, nobody believes it and it's just a total waste of money."

Silvia Galfo: I think the authenticity piece has become more sensitive today with the audiences too, because they know they're paid in a way. I think that for the consumer, this is even more so important to connect this come across.

Conor Begley: Totally. Again, the big thing is there's more transparency today than there's ever been, so people can find out this information really easily.

Silvia Galfo: Right.

Conor Begley: That makes a ton of sense. Let's talk a little bit about budget size. I think one of the things that I just don't have perspective on, is how do you manage a budget that's a hundred million dollars? It's just not something or whatever it is, 50 million, these very large numbers. Obviously, during your time at Lancome, I think you guys had some of the biggest marketing budgets in the world at the time, as well as at Armani, et cetera. What are some of the challenges today specifically, because there's so many channels? There's so many things you can do, you can do SMS, email, digital, offline. How do you think about that balance and focus, frankly?

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, I think your focus is very important. It's easy when you have a lot of money to do many things because you can try many things, but at the end of the day, it's very dilutive and I don't see what you really learn from it. I always like to think about with my team of 80% of the budget is driving the business strategic, focused, few platforms that we know work and the way our target is. Then maybe 20% of your budget is for test syndrome, testing out new platforms, whether it's gaming, whether it's whatever that new thing is, just a little bit see if there's something that we can feed moving forward and then scale up further along. You also make choices based on KPIs, what you also try to achieve, what category, what product, what thing is. Because sometimes, again, it's very easy to kind of say, " Okay, let's do a Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, everything." At one point you're like, " Okay, what is sticking," right and, " What is the consumer actually goal for this type of content?" I think when you take this step back very often you have the answer very quickly there. Again, it's the rigor of staying focused on few platforms but going deep. But then if things don't work because it can work for one product but not for the other one, and then you don't... You're like, " Why? Wait a second, why did Pinterest work inaudible?" It is each time different because maybe the product nature category has different benefits or different things that it makes sense in one platform but not the other one. You have to go also very granular on, it's not one size fits all really, honestly. It's really by product, by category, by type of target that you really say, " Okay, let's focus on these three platforms, go deep and if something doesn't work, we shuffle things around and we adjust." But always keep a little bit of budget on test and learn. For instance, we launched our new Code Parfum launch last fall. We start playing with gaming with Fortnite. It was game that was developed by the global tier and then we're like, " Okay, I don't want to bet all my money on this major launch, but let's put something aside to see how we can activate the influencer, the game of community, provided that they're interested in fragrance and then get content done and then scale it if we think it's interesting." It's always something there that you say, "Okay, it is interesting or maybe it's always going to stay small, but you know what, it doesn't matter because sometimes in luxury it's okay to have micro communities." You always have to go after the masses somehow, but you always have so that you have your niche community because maybe those who are your opinion leaders or those who influence other communities. I think high and low is always interesting to always support it this way sometimes.

Conor Begley: Yeah, I think the idea of these kind of niche communities is incredibly important, because there's a lot of passion in those categories. You don't think about it, but there are people that are really passionate about fragrance and that dedicate their whole lives to that. I'd love to dive into that a little bit because I think fragrance historically has had a harder time on social and on digital, just it's hard to smell. You can't smell it and it's hard to describe what a smell is. What have you found in terms of fragrance marketing and how that's different, number one and number two, Acqua Di Gio I would imagine is the primary SKU, I'd be curious how big is that revenue stream on a relative basis for the business? Then, how do you think about marketing hero products, versus say new innovation?

Silvia Galfo: Acqua Di Gio for us, it's huge. It's like 40% of our business in terms of retail. It's obviously a fragrance been there for 20 years, iconic and has had a very distinctive territory, the great model with the water and the whole inspiration of it. But I think it was two years ago I was like, " Okay, why? Let's try TikTok for men's fragrance, for Acqua."

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: We had Profondo, which was a new launch and we are like, " Okay, what should we do? Is it a fragrance review? Is it like hashtag challenge? What should we do?" Actually, we did this activation, which actually was very interesting and pretty successful. We're like, " Okay, why are men actually on TikTok? They're not there to review your latest fragrance. They want to have fun, they should be entertainment and numerous." We work with this couple of male TikTokers who we gave them a very open brief, saying, " This is the new acqua called Profondo. The whole angle is how does it make you feel when you apply it and how will you use it?" There was a couple of guys who were really making, and taking the humor approach to it. They had definitely the most engaging inaudible, because I think and on the man's fragrance side, you need to be entertaining.

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: You cannot be very serious. Then we said, " Okay, maybe we should do next time some fragrance review." This is, I mean obviously you know Jeremy Fragrance is, this guy who does all this reviews and stuff. But at the end of the day, when you find the most engagement is when you have the entertainment piece, at least for men on TikTok, for fragrance. Then you have to be not stressed out that it's a bit off brand, the way they communicate on your brand. But at the end of the day, it's about their audience, what they like about them and how the fragrance plays into their getting ready, or whatever that is. There was one of the guys, he was like with other friend and then he was trying to steal the Acqua from him, because he was smelling so good. It was just inaudible girls. I mean, it was really funny and very simple.

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: But I think this for me is what makes a success on TikTok, because it's the simplicity of the messaging and the authenticity of the thing to it. When it's too staged, too produced, when they try to replicate your advertising, this will not work and it didn't work on some of them. It's interesting to do that. With another one with Acqua then, which was more like frangrance review, which was not as successful. Because again, there was lacking the entertainment piece. The education piece maybe should be more organic, what it smells like. I think also we learned that the male fragrance market is much more simple, versus the female market, where women want to know exactly the ingredients, the different type of notes. I think on men it's like is it fresh? Is it woody or is it whatever that is, it's much more simple. You don't need to spend 15 minutes explaining the notes, you know what I mean? Because I don't think they engage with that. It's another learning that we had, unless you are again, Jeremy Fragrance who is known for reviewing fragrances, but even when you listen to him, he's not giving you the detailed breakdown of the notes and how the fragrance was made. He just gives you the overall gist of how it smells, the key ingredients. This is something also you learn, because you're so much into the expertise and you're like, " Oh my god, we have to teach them exactly what's in there." No you don't. They don't care. Make it fun, entertaining and that's it. On women's, it's different because on women's, we made a big hashtag challenge on TikTok two years ago. Very impactful, billions of views. It was about My Way. Each of the influencers was supposed to showcase things their own way, which was very authentic to them and really blew up. It was really interesting. What we learned there, is before we do the challenge, let's feed to some key influencers, the scent, so that they can review the scent. Once people start talking about the scent, how it smells and how it makes them feel, then you do My Way activation to understand the world of My Way. At fragrance, it's not easy to crack, to be honest. I think we try things, some things work, some didn't work, but it's obviously a learning thing. But again, it's very different from female to male, for sure. Everybody wants to be entertained at the end of day. Even on women's fragrance, the entertainment piece probably is the most relevant and interesting.

Conor Begley: Yeah. I had a video, it's funny just thinking about the way that I learned about things and I think back to I got sent a survey post from somebody. They're like, " I don't know what's happening in this video, but we got to watch it." I watched it and it was like, " What did I just watch? I think that was an ad." But either way it was just really funny, entertaining, crazy. Again, the constraints of TikTok having to make a video very, very short and very entertaining makes it better I think in a lot of ways. That, or if you think about Dollar Shave Club and they blew up at the beginning, it was a lot of, it's just really funny content and I think it's interesting to see that. Again, putting it in the hands of the creator who says, " I know my audience, I know what they're going to like. I know what creative direction I want to take it in," and letting them do that. We see that over and over and over again in terms of a pathway to success. They've gotten to where they are for a reason. They've gotten the big audience they have for a reason. They know what to do with them.

Silvia Galfo: Right. Exactly.

Conor Begley: What are the difficulties in translating that? Because obviously, I spend every day in the US culture, but there are cultures all over the world and I know for you a big part of your experiences, international marketing.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: What are the challenges associated with translating that? Because obviously what's funny here is going to be very different than what's funny there or what's interesting here is going to be very different than what's interesting there. How do you manage that? How do you understand what works where and how to do it?

Silvia Galfo: Yeah. You need to understand the key cultural differences, what motivates people, how they feel about certain beauty products, what the culturally taboos, what are things that are appropriate? It's being also very close to them. I mean, I was traveling a lot when I was on Lancome, and global when I was even in Revlon. It can be very sensitive to do things that are inappropriate and it can backlash very quickly. I mean, you've seen in China, there are some cases of big brands like the Dodgers of this world who did missteps in communication and it can be very brutal for them. You have to also make sure that you listen to the people who are in the countries. They know what works for their consumer. You can have your brand vision, but then how does your brand vision adapt to the local relevancy? Actually, it's the same thing for me today in my job, is how do I make Armani relevant in the US from the Italian DNA to what the brand stands for, but also how do you then translate into the US relevancy to make it right for the US consumer? Even if it's obviously not difficult, but it's something we do all the time because it's a lot of... There's not much rational about it sometimes it's a lot of feeling too.

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: But again, listening and observing and asking a lot of questions to make sure that you don't make missteps. Because sometimes it's okay to little missteps, but you don't want to do mega faux pas and things where you have such big brands and want to be relevant.

Conor Begley: Yeah, I mean it's definitely because there are so many cultural taboos that are just different and they're totally understandable.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, yeah.

Conor Begley: It's tough. It's a tough situation to navigate for sure.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, and I'm sure. For instance, when I talk about the TikTok videos that work the best on Acqua Profondo, with this guy being very funny, I'm not sure it would make people laugh in France. You know what I mean?

Conor Begley: Totally.

Silvia Galfo: They all would say, "What is this ridiculous thing?" It's always again translating and decoding why someone finds this funny culturally with someone in the other culture.

Conor Begley: This is a very odd example, I travel a lot, I meet with a lot of people from different cultures, and I notice there's certain cultures where my personality does better than other cultures. I remember very early on did really well in New York, so whenever I'd go to New York, I met people from New York would do really well there. LA, I would do okay, but I wouldn't do quite as well. Similar thing, I'd go to the UK, I'd do very well in the UK, I would go to Paris and it's like I might come off as the obnoxious American. I don't know. There's something that it was noticeable. It's hard, you want to adapt your personality obviously a little bit. But it's an interesting challenge. Let's talk a little bit about leadership in organizations. You've gotten to see some of the largest and most well- run organizations in the world. I think at this point L'Oreal is far and away the largest beauty manufacturer in the world. Beauty of brand conglomerate and has had consistent success over time. I think conversely, you spent some time at Revlon, who I think was you came in and it was a struggling company when you got there and then has ultimately I think had to file for bankruptcy. There's some questions around that. I'd be curious for you what your observations are now being back at L'Oreal, you can see it again, between L'Oreal and how it's run versus say Revlon. Not necessarily those specific examples, but what are the differences between a really well run organization and organization which is maybe having trouble with its identity?

Silvia Galfo: Well, the biggest differences I would say is having the right processes in place that make you go fast. Process in place, everybody aligns on and we know what needs to be done and then gives us still space for entrepreneurship, agility and reacting fast. I think at L'Oreal everything is consumer centric. Everything you do from creating the product, creating campaigns, activating, it's all about the consumer and how do you get close to it. There's no much compromise to do everything you set up. It's a big marketing machine at the end of the day. There's a lot of scale in what things that are done. There's a lot of things that are focused on, but there's also a lot of test and learn trial things. I think again, the structure, the way structure and the process that are in place allow you to do both. To run the big scale campaigns or big launches and big things was constantly feeding yourselves with what's new, what's going on. Then be agile on reacting on the market. I think when the company is a little bit fragile and obviously you don't invest in the right places, you have to cut your fuel, you have to cut hair, you weaken a little bit. You think, but if the processes in place are not the right ones or the way of operating the business, then everything is say not solid to be able then to take bets and new things. I think it's a model where you fuel your business and you generate more business. It's a positive machine the way we operate. I think it's really like-

Conor Begley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Momentum is really powerful.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah. I think it sounds weird because it's a big company, but it's really this entrepreneur spirit of every person in a young age is responsible for a product category or product launch. There's a lot of throwing in the water at a young age and you have to figure it out how to get it done. But again, there's so much networking and so much I think collaboration and sharing of information, learnings that you can never really get it super wrong because it was someone who had the experience and will tell you how to adjust your plan, or how to adjust your lodge, or how to try something new out. It's constantly feeding off insights and intelligence of, again, whether it's consumer, whether it's newer tech, whatever that is. But again, in a very structured way.

Conor Begley: Well, it seems like there's just incredible talent density too. I think that in two ways. One is I just know that a lot of the people that I've met within L'Oreal have been there for 15, 20, 25, 30 years. They're able to retain really, really good people. Separately, I think externally it can often be seen as a finishing school. Right? " Oh, you spent four years at L'Oreal or eight years at L'Oreal," like you've been trained so to speak. It becomes this recruiting ground out of for senior leadership, which obviously again then attracts the best people. Because they go, " Oh, if I go to, it's like going to McKinsey. If I go to McKinsey and I work for two to four years, then I can go and do whatever I want, because I'll always have that on my resume." It's just really impressive and interesting to examine from the outside, because we get to see all these different organizations and they have different strengths and weaknesses, but just from a purely performance perspective, L'Oreal's been the best performing for a long time.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, yeah. No, definitely talent is a key driver, but it's also the way talent is managed and this is why talent is retained because there is a growth road inaudible.

Conor Begley: Well, it seems like they move people around a lot too. Right?

Silvia Galfo: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Conor Begley: They really encourage you to try new things, go different places.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, it's not silent between the different brands, different divisions, which also helps them to have much more movement and learning opportunities and growth opportunities.

Conor Begley: The other thing you mentioned there is speed, which is funny. You wouldn't associate speed with being the largest company in the space. Usually that means you're slower. But I know that when I went back to our first conversations, I think we had our first call and then you signed the contract three days later.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: It was like, "Whoa." I remember us being shocked, too, like, " Oh, great." We were still small. It was a fairly good size contract for us. It was like$60,000 a year, which was a lot of money for us back then.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: Is that something you personally prioritize too? Is this kind of agility, speed, test and learn?

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: It seems like that's a thing.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, I think it's the way I operate. For me it's like normal, but I think that you could say, yeah, it's my way of operating in real life, in personal life, in professional life, but even more professional life. I think sometimes if something can be done fast, why would you wait to do it? You know what I mean? Unless you have doubt, but it's true. I'm also someone who's very decisive, I'm not procrastinating on a decision. I'm almost too fast to make a decision and I decide very fast. For me, once I decide, you go. I'm not coming back saying, " Oh my god, maybe." No. I just maybe sometime I have it wrong, but it doesn't matter. You go back and you redo it. But I like speed, I like agility, I like nimbleness. I'm constantly being in the know what's going on, because this is how you make your business also strong and you stay on your toes. Because honestly, in our industry, you cannot just sit there saying, " Oh, I have the number three fragments on the market, like peace and love." No, you have to constantly stay on your toes and constantly evolve. I feel like speed is super important, especially in inaudible with a big company. But look at all these kind of indie brands that came out of nowhere the last 15, 20 years. They have much more agility than us. Yes, compared to them probably we're not as agile. But I feel like agility and nimbleness is very much promoted as culture of the company, which I can tell you is definitely true when you come from other bigger companies like where I was before, where it's much longer and lengthy. But also obviously when you have financial issues, you're not probably make you think about think twice versus when you have your budget, you're accountable for your budget, get it done, doesn't work. It's more like this kind of mindset if you were up within the frame. It's going to take many risks, but it's also scared of deciding SAS, because they're like, " Oh my God, I have to think about this and that." I'm a fast decision maker. I go sometimes even too fast, but this is what I like about even this industry and even this part of the business.

Conor Begley: Getting comfortable with failure is tough.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: Getting comfortable with, " I'm going to try something and maybe it's not going to work. I could spend twice as long gathering just a little bit of additional information. But let's move fast. Let's try it. If it doesn't work, we learn from it, et cetera." I know that's something that a couple of few different people have talked about Corey at Elf, which is they're the best performing stock in the last 12 months. It's crazy. They're up 90% in the last 12 months in this market, which is crazy. Literally of the entire stock market. Not like of the beauty industry, or if Toto, who's the SVP of marketing at Benefit globally. He talks about, he's like, " We expect 75% of our content to fail. We put it out there and just flops. That's okay." But it just seems like a super important skill, generally, but as a leader in particular.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, it's important provided that there is a rigor of analyzing why and not waiting too long to do that. This is something I really try to first learn with my teams, of, " It's okay to fail it guys. If something doesn't work, let me know. Let's not to wait too long," because, sometime it's always this kind of fear of saying, " Oh my God, something didn't work," and maybe we all decide to get it's okay. But I think it's also the ability to be able to analyze fast why something doesn't work and then adjust. Because sometimes you don't know, but most of the cases you can figure out why something didn't work. With experience and with many, many trial things, at one point you have there's a pattern. It's really what drives me today. Test and learn, scale up, go fast. If it doesn't work, understand why, up change. You know?

Conor Begley: Yeah. Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: Especially in the communication world, you can do that. Content is super easy. With your product, you cannot change into words, but communication, content, activations, whatever that is, you can very quickly pivot. It's the beauty of it. You know what I mean?

Conor Begley: Yeah. I think particularly like you said in this digital world that we're in now, you can test really quickly. Right?

Silvia Galfo: Right.

Conor Begley: You put it out, doesn't work, move on. I think the expectations in terms of volume are just much greater too. We'll do one fun end of show question, because I see this kind of leading right into one into the other. How does that manifest in your personal life? My wife and I, she's very much a planner, takes her time, really deeply researches it. I'm like, I go like quick. Do you have conflicts in your personal life in terms of planning vacations or anything like that when it comes to making decisions too quickly?

Silvia Galfo: I plan the vacations, but I do it very fast.

Conor Begley: Exactly.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah. Actually, before I was not planning too much ahead, but for me it's like, " Okay, we can decide." For instance, Thanksgiving, we're planning with friends to go somewhere and I'm always the one who proposes and I'm in 24 hours, I'm like, " Okay, let's go to Santa Cereza and Costa Rica. You love Costa Rica. These are the five villas I found. I already contacted one of those things. It causes X, we can commit to it and here's the contract." They're like, " Whoa. Can't we please discuss, because we were just mentioning it as an option, but we didn't say want to go there." I'm like, " Okay, but just be clear, because..." " Okay, we want to go." Then boom, the next day I was like looking at three other locations and today we have the contract and we landed to go to Belize. Yeah, I'm like this in personal life too. I have to go fast. Actually, my daughter, eight year old, she's like, " Stop pushing me. You always push me and I never have time to do this and that and everything is so fast." She's really complaining about it, because she's a little bit more chill. You know?

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: She wants go traveling and she wants to like... I realized sometimes with her that it probably, I go too far, but I'm like this with everything. Anything you put in my mind in the next 24 hours, I need to get it off my mind and get it done.

Conor Begley: Well, there's that phrase. It's, " If you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know."

Silvia Galfo: Yeah. I can relate to that. Yeah.

Conor Begley: I feel similar. It's people will be like, " Hey," like you said, they'll bring something up. The next day I'm like, " Okay, it's done." We did this, that, and the other thing. They think, " What? I didn't even know we were doing it."

Silvia Galfo: Exactly. You're like, " Why? What are you hesitating on? We've talked about this." They're like, " Yeah, but we have to think about it and this." Then they're like, " Okay, take 24 hours to think about it."

Conor Begley: I floated out the idea of a podcast and our head of marketing back in the day was like, " I don't know," whatever, da, da, da. They went on maternity leave and I was like, " Okay, this is my time." I just flew down to LA, organized a place and we shot it at Ipsy Studios, flew down, recorded two, flew down the next week, recorded two more, and I was like, " Hey, I've recorded four episodes." They're like, " What?"

Silvia Galfo: What?

Conor Begley: I was like, " We got to just get it edited, and we'll get it going. It's ready to go."

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Conor Begley: They're like, " Okay," and now we have a podcast.

Silvia Galfo: Sometimes I think hesitating in life is... You know, sometimes you think maybe you should have waited for things, but most of the time when I think back I'm like, " I would've done the same."

Conor Begley: Yeah. Again, if you fail, it's okay. inaudible. The worst case scenario if you fail is generally, if you really think about what is the worst possible thing that could happen here, it doesn't work, or it's just very minimal.

Silvia Galfo: Yep. Yeah.

Conor Begley: You waste a little bit of money. It's not life threatening.

Silvia Galfo: No, exactly. It's not that you put anybody's life at stake.

Conor Begley: Yeah.

Silvia Galfo: This what drives probably both of us. Yeah.

Conor Begley: Honestly, it feels like you should be more of an entrepreneur than in at a big brand. It seems like that's more your calling.

Silvia Galfo: But you know, it's funny, because everybody says it to me and I'm like, " Actually, I don't know if I want to be on my own." It's really funny. I have constantly ideas, and this is why I operate actually in the companies I work, really entrepreneurship. But then on my own, I have actually an idea to do something, but probably have thousands of these. But I don't think about the good. I don't know. I'm judging myself probably too much on... maybe I need someone to kind of-

Conor Begley: You don't to have a partner. I wouldn't be a good solo entrepreneur. I wouldn't want to be.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah.

Conor Begley: I think having a partner that you're accountable to, you can bounce ideas off of.

Silvia Galfo: Right.

Conor Begley: You can say, " Hey, what do you think about this? I just need somebody to tell me whether I'm crazy or not."

Silvia Galfo: Right.

Conor Begley: That's the big difference. Then you're never alone. Right? Even if it's just two of you, you at least have one other person.

Silvia Galfo: Yeah, exactly.

Conor Begley: I think that's a critical component. Well, I really appreciate you taking out the time. I had a lot of fun today that just flew by. It always does when I talk to you. Congrats again on all your success. Excited to see what you do with Armani. Hopefully we'll have you on again in a couple years with another check- in.

Silvia Galfo: Thank you so much, was great speaking to you inaudible.

Conor Begley: Awesome. Bye, Silvia.

Speaker 2: Be a friend, tell a friend and subscribe. Earned, by Creator IQ. Creator IQ is your all in one solution to grow, manage, scale, and measure your influencer marketing program. Ready to unlock the power of the creator economy? Get started with a demo today creatoriq. com.


In Ep. 72 of Earned, Conor sits down with Silvia Galfo, general manager of Armani Beauty. We start by talking about influencers: when Silvia first realized their potential, and how the narrative—and budgets—around influencer marketing have shifted in recent years. Silvia describes how important it is for luxury brands to strike the right balance between establishing a brand-led narrative and giving up some control to creators. We also discuss how to divvy up the marketing budget with the increasing number of channels available today, and Silvia shares her test-and-learn philosophy. We then explore the world of fragrance marketing—a historically difficult vertical to market across social media. Silvia emphasizes the importance of entertaining your audience, and shares the success of a recent TikTok activation for Armani’s Acqua di Giò Profondo fragrance. To close the show, we discuss how to adapt your brand’s message to resonate across international markets, and why Silvia’s leadership style prioritizes nimbleness and agility.

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. How luxury brands' approach to influencer marketing has shifted in recent years
  2. The importance of entertainment in fragrance marketing
  3. Why you should adapt your brand's message to resonate across international markets

Key Takeaways

[02:28] Why brands—including luxury brands—should lean into influencer marketing

[10:31] How Silvia divvies up the marketing budget across all of today's new channels

[13:39] How to effectively market fragrance on social media

[18:15] Why brands should adapt their messaging to resonate across different markets and cultures

[25:12] Why Silvia's leadership style prioritizes nimbleness and agility


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