L’Oréal breaks new frontiers with Haircare & Professional Products

London Supply opens first Kérastase Travel Retail Salon in Americas, with Dermacenter to follow as travel retail and domestic markets join forces to recruit new customers. Lois Pasternak reports.

The first Kérastase Travel Retail Hair Salon in the Americas opened at London Supply’s Iguazu store in Argentina in March.

The first Kérastase Travel Retail Hair Salon in the Americas opened at London
Supply’s Iguazu store in Argentina in March.

L’Oréal’s Active Cosmetics Division is all about differentiation and bringing a unique offer to the consumer, says Jose Luis Lacunza, Division Manager of Active Cosmetics & Professional Products at L’Oréal’s Travel Retail subsidiary in Miami. These two new divisions are also in the midst of a breakthrough effort to attract new customers and convert them into regular users of the brands.

L’Oréal’s Active Cosmetics & Professional Products division burst onto the travel retail scene in the region with the opening of L’Oréal’s first Kérastase door in Americas travel retail with London Supply in its Puerto Iguazu store on March 23. A second location has now opened with Grupo Wisa at the end of May in Mexico City International Airport, Terminal 2.

L’Oréal Travel Retail first announced that it would be launching its Kérastase brand – the world’s number one professional hair care brand– along with treatment brands Vichy and La Roche-Posay, in some of the most prestigious global travel retail locations, during the 2014 Tax Free World Exhibition in Cannes.

L’Oréal is selling the new concepts in travel retail through Dermacenter flagship “shop-in-shops” devoted to dermocosmetics for Vichy and La Roche-Posay, and through tailor-made dedicated Kérastase Studios for hair care; and the Kérastase Studio opened with London Supply in March represents a ground-breaking new category in the channel. (L’Oréal’s first two doors – one Kérastase Hair Studio and one Dermacenter—opened in Hong Kong with DFS Group last November.)

The luxurious 17 sqm Kérastase counter in Puerto Iguazu occupies a stunning 360° open space area at the entrance of the store’s immense Beauty section, and introduces new standards of service in the travel retail venue.

The salon features a styling station staffed by professional hairdressers. These are dedicated hair advisors trained to perform an individual diagnosis of the customer’s hair and scalp, collect and analyze data and then provide precise product suggestions and follow-up.

The Hair Centers offer a streamlined selection of key hair products, including travel exclusive sets, as well as specific services designed to be performed within the time restraints of a travel retail/ airport environment. Clear shelf signage helps customers identify the Kérastase routine steps and rituals, with merchandising and visuals translated into both Spanish and Portuguese.

The Kérastase Travel Retail Hair Salons feature travel retail exclusive sets and a professionally- staffed styling station to provide special services designed for rapid turnaround.

The Kérastase Travel Retail Hair Salons feature travel retail exclusive sets and a professionally-
staffed styling station to provide special services designed for rapid turnaround.

The diagnosis uses a specially designed precision hair & scalp analyzer – like a camera app — that delivers between 200 to 600 magnification and measures nine different parameters in the hair shaft and scalp. This permits the hair technician to provide a professional analysis and make informed recommendations to improve the hair.

“The London Supply Kérastase Studio is the first time we saw everything that we were working on come together,” says Lacunza. “Next we are opening the first Dermacenter, which will feature La Roche Posay and Vichy, with London Supply in Iguazu, followed by a Dermacenter and another Kérastase hair studio in Terminal 2 in Mexico City with Grupo Wisa.”

A new collaboration
While these two new divisions are not directly linked to the travel retail distribution channel, Lacunza explains that L’Oréal sees them as an opportunity and an added value for everybody, although not without their own challenges: “We are providing good products and good brands. But we already have distribution in the domestic market and needed to reinvent the concept somehow. For retailers it means a new category, something that was not present in the market before, which will provide additional sales.”

Unlike most travel retail distribution, L’Oréal is partnering its Active Cosmetics & Professional Products travel retail offer with the local market, says Lacunza.

“Travel retail usually operates independently. But in this case, travel retail and the domestic channel are collaborating in many senses, and operating jointly. We are creating synergies in terms of training, selection of people, and in the end giving the domestic market feedback about the customer that we capture in travel retail. From this information, the domestic retailer can provide long-term customer follow up. We want to give the same message to the same customer but in different channels,” he says.

“Our goal is to use the travel retail location to reach a customer we might not reach before. We want to create loyalty and an attachment to the brand that will continue in the local market,” explains Maria Laura Fernandez, Retail & Education manager, ACD & PPD, who helps coordinate the connection between the two channels.

The second Kérastase Travel Retail Hair Salon opened in collaboration with Grupo Wisa in Mexico City Airport’s Terminal 2 on May 22.

The second Kérastase Travel Retail Hair Salon opened in collaboration with Grupo Wisa in
Mexico City Airport’s Terminal 2 on May 22.

L’Oréal is focusing on two of its most important dermocosmetic brands in the new travel retail Dermacenters, Vichy and La Roche Posay. Both brands meet a range of different skin care needs from normal to blemish-prone skin, and are traditionally sold in healthcare outlets worldwide, including, pharmacies, drugstores, and medi-spas, especially in France and South America.

Vichy is one of the world leaders in cosmetic skincare, available at 90,000 points of sale in more than 60 countries. Vichy is considered the pioneer in using medical research and clinical tests in skincare, and created the concept of unique “skin types” that required custom-tailored treatments. All the Vichy skincare formulations are based on the therapeutic virtues of Vichy Thermal Spa Water.

La Roche-Posay—specially designed for hypoallergenic skins and for treating dermatological conditions — is recommended by 25,000 dermatologists worldwide. Its formulas are based on the La Roche Posay Thermal Spring water, and feature a high concentration of minerals and are fragrance free. L’Oréal reports that the brand’s two leading markets are France, and Brazil where La Roche-Posay ranks first nationwide.

The L’Oréal Dermacenter has been designed as a pharmacy capsule to immediately immerse the customer in a dermo-cosmetic universe, explains Loubna Benzakour, Marketing Manager, ACD & PP Division.

“Our derm-advisors are professionally trained to offer personalized consultation using a Dermanalyzer, which delivers microscopic precision testing on hydration, sebum, pores, melanin, break-outs and wrinkles. The goal is to provide a unique retail experience for the customer who is concerned with her health and looking for accessible, efficient and innovative skincare,” she says.

Airports and more
Even if Kérastase hair salons and Dermacenters have primarily been designed for airports, the opening in London Supply is good proof of the flexibility of this retail concept.

“Airports will be the main focus of the business, but we also have downtown shops and cruise boutiques. The model is applicable to many different travel retail formats; but it is still about airports,” says Lacunza.

“We know that airports have time constraints, so the service we provide has to be provided in a short period. We offer an in-salon experience that can be enjoyed in a three-minute, a five-minute or a 15- minute segment,” he explains.

“For three minutes we can provide a professional hair & scalp diagnosis. For five minutes we offer a Flash Style Refresh or Ultra Shine Touch Up, and for 15 minutes our hair experts can do a professional blow dry or a luxury scalp massage. The Dermacenters also provide individual diagnosis and tailored services. Both concepts also offer a selection of travel retail exclusive sets.”

Southern appeal
“We have good brand awareness in South America, especially in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. The South American mix in the airports is obviously our strongest point, and that is opening immediate opportunities in South and Central America. However, we also have very good awareness in Canada and to some extent in the USA, so there is no doubt we will also have many opportunities in U.S. and Canadian airports.”

“So the first stage will be South and Central America, then we will look at the Northern airports that have a more South American mix. These brands are also being launched in Asia. So we will see the response there, and then design our program to accommodate that as well,” says Lacunza.

Opening the new Kérastase hair care and Dermacenters in travel retail is a process, one that entails a strong partnership between L’Oréal and the retailer.

“Travel retail is an expensive channel, because of the cost of space,” says Lacunza. “By upscaling the space, the retailer and L’Oréal will incur costs. When you build a new category, the retailer and the brand have to work together.”

Lacunza says that L’Oréal expects to have the most important aiports open between the end of this year and the third quarter of next year.

“This is very ambitious especially since each spot will be tailor-made. Of course we are concentrating first on the airports that have the volume to make this concept sustainable.”

“But at the end it is a global implementation. And we are going forward gradually, step by step,” he says.