Memo Interview: The Sixty Year Success of René Furterer
René Furterer's Jacqueline Flam, vice-president retail and salon
The heritage brand, René Furterer, has been celebrating a 60 year anniversary and Jacqueline Flam, vice-president retail and salon, has been instrumental in building a renewed foundation for future success. She oversees Pierre Fabre’s (the parent company) retail and salon business for three flagship brands: René Furterer, Eau Thermale Avène and Klorane. “I took over brand management for René Furterer in January 2017 and have worked hard on recruiting top talent in marketing and education,” Flam says. “The key brand focuses for 2017 included participation in pro hair industry events in addition to a focus on our unique heritage with a 60th anniversary celebration and training in Paris attended by some of our key salon partners.” We asked Flam to share some history of the brand as well as a peak into its future plans.
MS: Please give some background on René Furterer—the person and the brand.
JF: René Furterer was born in Provence, in the south of France, in 1910. He developed an extreme appreciation of plants and their benefits from his grandmother, with whom he spent much of his time in the garden. His fondness for plants and their therapeutic nature stayed with him as he began his career in hairdressing. In the 1950s, René opened his signature salon in the heart of Paris. As he saw the damaging effects of the hair care trends of the time—think Marilyn Monroe’s platinum blonde and other chemical treatments—he developed a new way of caring for the hair by focusing on the health of the scalp using a combination of essential oils, plant extracts, and technical massage for revitalization and stimulation. René Furterer’s philosophy was ‘beautiful hair grows from a healthy scalp, like a plant in fertile soil’ relating back, as always, to his deep understanding of and respect for plants.
MS: How was discussion of thinning hair and scalp health received when it was first introduced?
JF: René Furterer was a true visionary. He introduced a completely new way to approach hair care through technical analysis, scalp treatment and natural ingredients, which earned him an extremely loyal clientele, first in France and then globally. René Furterer’s clients appreciated his fervent attention to not only their hair’s look, but also its overall health.
MS: Please talk about how René Furterer services are incorporated into salon services.
JF: I’m just returning from a visit to the René Furterer Institut in Paris where I had the pleasure of bringing a group of 10 stylists and salon owners. At the Institut we offer our signature hair analysis and scalp treatments, which are approximately 90-minute services inclusive of a shiatsu scalp massage technique that enhances both the product penetration and overall circulation. In our network salons in the US, our partners have menu services from a 10-minute Signature Shampoo Ritual to our 45-minute Scalp Rituals (seven variations exist for various scalp concerns) to the ultra-luxe, 60-minute Scalp Therapy. So many owners and stylists perceive scalp treatments as only for clients with specific concerns like hair loss and dandruff, which is like thinking of massage therapy as being only for marathoners or facial services only for problem skin. Everyone can stand to benefit and appreciate the results of the service. It is menu offerings like these that enhance a salon’s loyalty and raise the bar in the client experience.
MS: How are you reaching the hairdresser?
JF: René Furterer has a strong foundation in education, and technical training is at the heart of the brand’s focus. The René Furterer Academy offers 12 regional hands-on classes each year. Additionally, our network salons earn points with their purchasing to enable them to select customized in-salon education. Salon partners also receive in-salon product knowledge classes and scalp treatment certification as well as access to online education and tools to develop their skills and their business.
MS: 60 years is a long time for any brand to stay relevant. To what do you ascribe your success?
JF: It always comes back to a solid and unwavering commitment to high quality products and efficacy, state- of-the-art research and development, and a very differentiated approach. René Furterer has always retained a strong commitment to evidence-based science and natural ingredients. Our customers are extremely loyal to the brand because our products truly do what they claim to do without fail.
MS: Can you give us a look at what’s to come in 2018 from the brand?
JF: René Furterer is a brand with a very dynamic pipeline of innovation. You can expect best-in-class newness in some of our key areas of focus, including styling and scalp health. The latter is an explosive area of growth for salons. Many salons are just starting to realize the incredible incremental revenue that can be achieved with a focus on the scalp health and hair loss categories. Consumers are seeking out good-for-you hair care more and more to achieve their healthiest hair, so salons without an offer that meets that demand are forfeiting valuable sales.