PARIS — Sephora wants to make people beautiful — from inside out — perhaps signaling a new era in beauty retailing. The perfumery chain, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, will unveil in France in September a new, in-store beauty concept emphasizing nutritional supplements and drinks.
If it works as well as the company hopes, the concept will be rolled out to Sephora doors in other countries.
"Today, we think nutritional complements are indispensable to beauty," Natacha Dzikowski, global brand image director of Sephora, told WWD. Until now, such products were predominantly available in France through pharmacies, supermarkets, hypermarkets and online.
Dzikowski explained Sephora has signed a consulting nutritionist to help it concoct veritable beauty regimens, including detox and diet programs. There will also be information given on which nutritional supplements and drinks, plus skin creams, round out the various "menus."
"Women today need this kind of information," she continued. "We will give them a full health regimen."
Of course, such regimens will vary from country to country, said Dzikowski.
She explained the idea for introducing a nutritional element into Sephora stemmed from market research showing the majority of women today are less concerned about the onset of wrinkles (the target of most facial skin care products) than about how best to achieve general well-being.
Sephora's first so-called "healthy and beauty" bars will stock about 10 brands of nutritional supplements and drinks. So far, the lineup includes Fushi, Dr. Perricone and Dr. Murad, plus the perfumery's own brand — including its 24H Slimming Program.
The bar, measuring about 22 square feet, will be added to 27 of Sephora's more than 200 doors in France in September, the same month that advertising for the concept will break countrywide. Then, depending on how it functions, "healthy and beauty" could be rolled out further next year.
The perfumery chain will introduce what it calls the Sephora University of Skin Care, a Paris school that will train beauty advisers, as well.
Such additions are part of Sephora's attempt to lasso a wider swath of the skin care market, since now the retailer is better known here for its makeup and fragrance savoir-faire. However, the new concepts are not indicative of an about-face in strategy."We wanted to nourish our beauty statement; it wasn't a quest to change the DNA of Sephora," said Dzikowski.
Sephora would not discuss projections, but industry sources estimated its new nutritional business would generate $13.5 million at retail during its first year in France.
Already, sales of nutritional beauty supplements register strong growth. In France between 2003 and 2004, the business in antiaging supplements, for instance, gained 15 percent, to 155 million euros, or $184.1 million at average yearly exchange, according to tracking firm Eurostaf.
Fushi, among the early pioneers of detox drinks and supplements, posted sales that were up 130 percent, to 1.8 million pounds, or $3.3 million at average yearly exchange, in 2006 over 2005. The company, founded in London, now sells products in 600 doors worldwide.
Fushi's founder and chief executive officer, Ranish Jansari, lauded Sephora's new concept.
"I think it is about time that companies started realizing there's a demand for beauty that's not just about perfume or cream, but about well-being," he said.
And that demand is expected to keep growing quickly around the globe. "As consumers become more concerned about the environment and individual well-being, the oral supplements sector is well positioned for growth," said a recent report from London tracking firm Mintel International.
The category can ride on the back of the organic and natural foods trend. In fact, Whole Foods has been merchandising beauty and supplements side by side, as the latest in a long line of manufacturers and specialty retailers that have dabbled in ingestible beauty products, going back to the early Eighties and the halcyon days of Aveda. But now the idea is being pushed by an international beauty retailing power, suggesting that the time has finally arrived for nutritional supplements.
"People are realizing that what you consume is more important for your skin's appearance than what you put on it," said Fushi's Jansari.
Also expected to drive the nutritional "beauty" market's gains is the introduction of innovative products, including Danone's Essensis vitamin-rich yogurt, positioned as an oral beauty supplement, that was introduced in March, industry experts said.
And high-tech nutritional supplements are being introduced at a rapid clip, key for consumers hungry for novelty. In the first quarter of this year, there was an uptick in the launches of supplements containing the antiaging ingredient collagen, noted Mintel research. It highlighted Japanese firm Kanebo's Royal Supply Q10 Collagen product, targeted at women aged 50 and over, and the U.K.'s Proto-Col, "pure" collagen capsules billed as an alternative to Botox.Among the newcomers to the nutritional game are capsules from Nude natural treatment brand, of London, which will be launched in June.
"If you feed the skin properly, it can look after itself," said Bryan Meehan, Nude's founder.
"This isn't medical — that's not what we're about," said Dzikowski. "We are into happy science." — Jennifer Weil and Ellen Groves, With contributions by Brid Costello
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