Perfectly timed to capitalize on the surging popularity of makeup—especially high-end luxury cosmetics – L’Oréal has launched luxury skincare and makeup for its Italian couture brand Giorgio Armani in the travel retail channel in the Americas.
Thibault Tétrel, General Manager Travel Retail Americas for Giorgio Armani & Designer Fragrances at L’Oréal (Parbel) reports that the Armani beauty line has opened in 15 key travel retail doors in North and South America over the past year, with another 15 scheduled to join them by the end of 2017.
“We want to make extraordinary flagship stores, and we are working with a few select retailers who understand retail excellence and will help us implement this very beautiful brand,” explains Tétrel.
“Expanding the Armani brand into skincare and makeup makes the Armani brand more feminine, and with this more premium offering we are receiving more beautiful spaces in the airport. As a result of the larger spaces, we can offer greater service. This is all coming together very well.”
The rollout is taking place during a rebound in the market, he says, which is a good time to introduce new projects in the region. Tétrel also points out that there is an important uptrend in makeup going on, which is especially apparent on the West Coast of North America.
“While Travel Retail Americas (TRA) was always a big market for fragrance, makeup has recently started to boom. The trend that we saw 3-4 years ago in Asia, followed by Europe, is finally coming to the Americas.
“Looking at worldwide makeup sales for L’Oréal, Asia is doubling each year. The domestic US consumer has always been a big makeup customer, but now we are seeing the growth of makeup among Asians, Europeans, and finally, Latin Americans, three groups that are good travel retail shoppers.
“Because we have so many Latin consumers, TRA is benefiting a little later than TR Asia and TR Europe did. But it is coming now. We just returned from visiting the Dufry stores in Rio and Sao Paulo, and they were displaying a whole range of makeup brands in the front of the store,” he said.
Tétrel admits that selling luxury makeup involves a commitment on the part of the retailer: ongoing BA training, space to carry the right assortment and a full selection of shades to meet consumers’ needs.
L’Oréal’s objective at the point of sale is to build a luxury brand and this requires the right amount of dedicated space to present the brand in its iconic way, as well as specially trained dedicated staff.
The Armani BA’s are a strong selling point: starting at the Beauty Advisor level, staff can progress to the ultimate title of “Face Designer,” a designation reflecting their seniority and level of expertise. All the BAs are makeup artists, of course.
“You need to agree to the complexity involved to sell luxury makeup correctly and I think that some retailers took some time to consider the opportunity and adapt to it. But now the retailers are ready to embark on the makeup journey,” he says.
Due to the huge appetite for Armani coming from Asia –where Giorgio Armani is already established as a full luxury beauty brand with a very strong fashion name–L’Oréal launched the Armani cosmetics in Hawaii last year with DFS, where it has been extremely successful.
“Giorgio Armani, which as a luxury/couture fashion brand sits at the very high end of the market, is best known for its foundation and lipsticks with color appeal and extraordinary textures. We saw an immediate response from the Chinese, and Asians in general. Now we are making our way through the rest of the region,” he notes.
“DFS has a beautiful retail space targeting the Chinese and Koreans in Hawaii and is now rolling out to Los Angeles in TBIT, in San Francisco with two doors and in New York JFK.”
In Canada, Giorgio Armani Beauty has opened in Montreal with Aer Rianta and in Toronto with Dufry. In the U.S., MIA and Washington Dulles are underway while in South America, the brand has opened in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Chile and Peru, as well as in Punta Cana.
“We are now at the point where all the major retailers have embarked on the journey with us, not only with Giorgio Armani, but with the concept of high end luxury makeup brands, including YSL,” says Tétrel.
Strategically, L’Oréal had a clear vision to list Giorgio Armani beauty with only a few retailers in the most select doors in the Americas.
“We started from the West Coast to capture the Chinese consumers – ten airports deliver 90% of the Chinese travelers to the Americas, and five of these—NY, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto- are especially key to capture this target consumer. The East Coast strategy is targeting European and American consumers.”
Since Armani Cosmetics are not available in the South American local market, L’Oréal sees travel retail as an excellent opportunity to introduce the brand and position it very exclusively.
“We are targeting the niche trendsetters in Latin America. The ones who travel a lot, and we offer them the opportunity to bring home a product not available otherwise,” says Tétrel.
Digital marketing targets core consumers
“But first we had to tell them that we are here, as in Latin America there is no footprint for the brand except in Mexico City, and the passengers interested in the brand usually purchase it abroad,” explains Marie Dardayrol-Sandevoir, Marketing Director Travel Retail Americas Giorgio Armani & Designer Fragrances.
L’Oréal has made excellent use of digital marketing to introduce the Giorgio Armani beauty brand to this audience, build awareness and stimulate sales.
After first concentrating on beauty articles in top beauty magazines, which informed readers that the brand was available in select duty free shops, this year the Giorgio Armani beauty team added a strong digital component to the marketing effort.
“We selected Brazilian bloggers, and we sent them to Paris to learn about the brand so they could write about Giorgio Armani extensively on their blog, and makeup tutorials on YouTube…. This was a way for us to spread targeted awareness using social media,” says Dardayrol-Sandevoir.
“We are also working directly with the consumer inside the airport using WiFi with Boingo, programmatic with S4M with a geolocalisation strategy to drive to the store. This is a way for us to communicate directly with this very captive audience, saying ‘Giorgio Armani is here, come discover the brand and experience a true luxury service.’ Earlier this year we very successfully promoted an engraving offer for fragrances through the app, for example. These operations are very successful, and we can see more than 7 pax out of 10 interested in our service or products.”
L’Oréal has gone a step further with its digital efforts, however, and has refined the process so that it blends geo-marketing together with further targeting, using very specific filtering parameters.
“With our filters we can target, for example, a Brazilian who has traveled from Rio or Sao Paolo to Miami. These passengers who are receiving our advertising on these apps are really our core target consumers. This is a very innovative development,” says Tétrel. “I think we are increasing the relevancy of our advertising to the consumers. These passengers have been pre-selected, so we know they already watch makeup advertising and are traveling to the right countries.”
Dardayrol-Sandevoir reports that the feedback from the digital programs even allow them to track the effectiveness of a specific offer in real time. “If a promotion is not working I can change it right away. I see the effects immediately.”
Giorgio Armani’s luxury dream
The Armani customer is primarily buying foundation and lipsticks—and products with UV protection are in high demand from the South American consumer, while lipstick sales are growing substantially in North America.
Sales to date have been very satisfactory, says Tétrel. “Not only are we meeting all our goals – before we were selling fragrance only and now we are doubling that by selling fragrance and cosmetics – but the beauty brands have created a halo effect on the fragrances in Latin America, stimulating sales of our women’s fragrances as well,” he explains.
The products in the Armani Cosmetics portfolio clearly reflect the designer himself, says Tétrel.
“Mr. Armani is at the heart of the brand and is probably the designer most involved with his cosmetics. And he revolves around Italian seduction and glamour, since he invented red carpet dressing, designing for the likes of Cate Blanchett.”
Armani Cosmetics shine when it comes to foundation. “Armani is the foundation authority, inspired by the colors and textures of the fabrics in his fashions. Wherever Armani Cosmetics are listed, we are the #1 foundation,” comments Dardayrol-Sandevoir.
The goal as Giorgio Armani cosmetics roll out in the region will be to drive the excitement at the point of sale, says Tétrel.
“We are committed to bring the excitement that you find in a couture brand to all of the category along with the quality of service that such a luxury brand requires,” he concludes.