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Tina Müller, CEO of Douglas, honoured as Brand Manager of the Year at the 2020 German Brand Awards. On the occasion of this distinction, Müller talked in March 2020 about modernising the Douglas brand, the agility associated with that, and the balancing act between innovation and maintaining brand values.

All winners of the 2020 German Brand Awards, the German Design Council’s competition for innovative branding, can be explored in the online gallery.

You have made your mark not least through the „Umparken im Kopf“ („Moving Our Mind to a New Spot“) campaign. Looking at how you have modernised the traditional brand Douglas over the past two years, one might get the impression that agility is your personal trademark. Is this true?

We are living in times of constant change and transformation. All sectors and industries are changing – and in the last five years faster than in the 20 years before. That’s why I consider agility and future-oriented approaches both natural and necessary. In order to continue to be the market leader in the retail or automotive industry in future, we have to adapt quickly and flexibly to new trends and reflect them in a sustainable strategy. In the context of the strategic guiding principles, it is important to have the courage to try out new things, to think big and, if necessary, then discard them. The Americans are way ahead of us here, especially when it comes to digitalisation.

You have given the brand a facelift over the last two years, which has radically impacted old values. Were you preaching to the converted with the redesigning of the brand? Or did you encounter any resistance? If so, how did you overcome it?

The strategy of completely relaunching the Douglas brand image, which had remained unchanged for almost 50 years, met with a great deal of approval and a positive response from within the organisation. Market developments, changing customer demands and a new zeitgeist were both an opportunity and a challenge, making the modernisation and premiumisation of the brand essential. The traditional brand Douglas had to be rethought in a new and modern way. In this age of hypercomplexity, it is essential to send clear messages to consumers. Today, the modernisation of a brand can no longer be superficial, otherwise it will simply go unnoticed. Michael Burke, CEO of Louis Vuitton, once said to me that when a traditional brand is transformed, 50% must be renewed and 50% preserved. The secret to successful brand management is being able to recognise which 50% needs renewing.

The traditional brand Douglas had to be rethought in a new and modern way. In this age of hypercomplexity, it is essential to send clear messages to consumers.

Has the new design also changed the Douglas brand’s message to its customers?

It is our mission to encourage people to live their own beauty and to be who they want to be. We are not seeking to define a specific ideal of beauty. Instead, our aim is to inspire and advise our customers so that they can express their individual beauty. This is much more today than it was ten years ago. The phrase „beauty is in the eye of the beholder“ applies more today than ever. That is why excellent curation, as we offer our clients, is becoming increasingly important. It is also important for us to take a stance as a company on the issue of beauty. In this context, with the message „You are made for loving you“, we are underscoring a modern understanding of self-love, self-confidence and independence, which we want to encourage in our customers.

Let’s talk about digital brand management. What makes your brand unique on the net? And how do you set yourself apart from the competition in the retail sector?

Our Douglas online shop is one of the leading online shops on the European market. We curate over 55,000 products from over 750 brands there. To ensure that our customers find the right products in this comprehensive range, we rely on personalisation and 1:1 marketing. Such a personalised approach is made possible by our data powerhouse with data from over 40 million Douglas Beauty Card holders. We have noted that this approach significantly increases conversion rates and customer satisfaction. In addition, we launched Europe’s first marketplace for beauty in the autumn of 2019, expanding our offering to include numerous products and brands from external and exclusively selected partners. This unique product range, the first-rate curating and our focus on personalisation are what make Douglas unique and enable us to grow quickly, and clearly differentiate us from the competition.

It is important for us to take a stance as a company on the issue of beauty. In this context, with the message „You are made for loving you“, we are underscoring a modern understanding of self-love, self-confidence and independence.

Your corporate strategy goes by the name #FORWARDBEAUTY: BEAUTY is clear. But what exactly does FORWARD signify?

First of all, the term BEAUTY describes the essence of our business. The hashtag also underscores the importance of digitalisation and e-commerce at Douglas: they are at the heart of our corporate strategy. The term FORWARD, on the other hand, underscores our desire to shape the beauty retailing sector in terms of content as the European market leader, to take a bold approach and to set new standards through innovation. These may include new digital technologies that we use for our customers, such as the Douglas Beauty Mirror. We also want to be a pioneer in terms of product range, for example through the exclusive launch of Kylie Skin in Europe, one of the fastest growing and most successful social media beauty brands from the USA. We are also pursuing innovative approaches with new concepts for our stores, such as flagship stores in attractive European cities or the Douglas PRO Store in Hamburg.

You initially digitised processes where it makes sense for your business. How else do you bring innovation into your company?

Our trend scouts monitor relevant markets very closely and work with trend researchers in Asia and America to identify brands with potential early on. In addition, in 2018 we launched the #FORWARDBEAUTYChallenge for start ups in the beauty and tech sector where young founders can present innovative product ideas and technology solutions for e-commerce and retail to win a cooperation with Douglas. As regards our innovative strength as a company, we also invest in our employees. For example, we are already taking part in the second year of the ada Fellowship, a further training programme specifically geared to the requirements of digital transformation in organisations that teaches innovative approaches and working methods. I also get a lot of inspiration from my network on my social media channels LinkedIn and Twitter.

Where do you see the Douglas brand in 10 years?

Our clear goal is to further consolidate and continue strengthening our leading position in Europe going forward. My vision is that in ten years’ time we will be the largest online beauty and lifestyle marketplace. We have laid the foundations for this in recent months and our success to date proves us right.

And you? Are you planning to move your mind to a new spot? Which industry might tempt you next?

I am very happy in my role as CEO at Douglas. The company is made for me. I have the best team, with whom we have reached so many milestones over the past two years and will no doubt reach just as many in the next two years. The beauty industry is changing at an unprecedented pace and we are actively shaping this change. This is something I am very proud of. And that’s why I don’t want to move my mind to a new spot for the time being.

Ms. Müller, thank you for the interview!

Interview from March 2020

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