Jo Malone: ‘Great brands make consumers the creative heartbeat’

From creating fragrances at her kitchen table to starting her second brand from scratch, fragrance entrepreneur Jo Malone believes the best companies put consumers at the creative heart of everything they do.

“You look at all the great brands that succeed today, they all have storytelling elements. They draw the customer in to be the creative heartbeat as well as the consumer of their product,” says entrepreneur and fragrance retailer Jo Malone.

Since bursting into the beauty industry with her eponymous fragrance brand in 1991, Malone has learnt a lot about the art of brand building, including what it takes to sell her company to beauty mega-brand Estée Lauder for an undisclosed six-figure sum.

In Malone’s opinion the best brands are those that let anyone buy into them, regardless of whether they have a luxury or premium positioning, and crucially never forget about creating value for consumers.

“Even though [the brand] is luxury and high end I want people to feel they have value for money.”

Jo Malone, entrepreneur

“When you say we can create these amazing things and anyone will pay, that’s naïve and its arrogant because it is about price,” says Malone.

“There will be some people who walk into my store who can afford anything and there will be some others who come in who have saved up to buy a candle and they are as important as the person who could come in and buy the whole lot.”

Malone stepped away from the Jo Malone business in 2006 and then had an enforced five-year hiatus from fragrance (a stipulation of the Estée Lauder deal). But she is now targeting global expansion with her second brand, Jo Loves, which she set up in 2011.

A passionate advocate of British business, Malone believes retailers need to focus on creating a full 360-degree experience to tempt shoppers back to the high street. The theatrical Jo Loves in-store experience invites customers to enjoy ‘fragrance tapas,’ which involves fragrance being painted onto their skin and mixed in cocktail shakers at a gleaming silver bar.

“Shopkeepers became lazy, that’s the reality I’m afraid,” she adds. “Retail was never all about the product. It’s about the language and landscape your product lives in, the packaging, the entertainment, the circus, the education – all those things encompassed.”

Read the full interview with Jo Malone in the next issue of Marketing Week on 13 October.

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