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Inside Dr. Dennis Gross’ International Expansion Plan

The skin care brand is aiming to be in more than 40 markets by year-end, with goals of growing international sales to one third of its total sales.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare is going big — and it’s going abroad.

The New York-based brand has ambitions to grow its footprint to more than 40 countries by the end of 2022, compared to 12 markets in 2018, and to grow international sales to reach 30 percent of its total revenues.

The brand took an investment from Main Post in 2020 in the throes of the pandemic. At that point, industry sources estimated Dr. Gross’ sales to reach $100 million at retail in 2020, with expectations that revenues would triple in the following three years.

Carrie Gross, the brand’s chief executive officer, caveated that the infusion wasn’t the impetus for international expansion, though it did help enable it. “While we now have private equity funding, that was not the key reason for expansion,” she said. “Instead, the focus was to maximize our existing relationships.”

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To that end, the company is entering a slew of new regions — China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates — in partnership with Sephora. The brand will also go into France’s Galeries Lafayette, Ireland’s Brown Thomas and the U.K.’s Liberty London, an expansion in an existing territory.

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Gross is eyeing spa partnerships, too, noting that experience is “important to our customer journey, [consumers] like to be able to get a professional facial, then do their shopping. It’s a very deliberate go-to-market strategy.”

The brand took a measured approach to expansion before going wide. “Early on in our international expansion, we focused more on English-speaking countries,” Gross said. “Australia’s been a huge partnership, and we love Mecca.”

It was interest from those territories’ tourists that spurred the expansion into emerging markets.

“The U.K. is a gateway to countries around the world. The Middle East, Asia, when you go to the U.K., that tourist is shopping at Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. We were really laying the groundwork to build our brand awareness and our presence in the U.K., knowing that in a very short period of time, we would want to launch in Asia and the Middle East.”

China — one of beauty’s largest markets internationally — shifted its regulations around animal testing last year, a move that catalyzed Gross’ plans to enter. Gross expects the brand’s clinically minded formulations, and results-driven communications, to resonate strongly with Chinese consumers. “The population is so skin care-savvy, that’s going to quickly emerge as one of our largest markets,” Gross said. “They’re very savvy, they know how to deep dive into science and clinical studies. It’s our wheelhouse.”

“The impetus for China, or at least to step on the gas, was when the restrictions around animal testing were lifted. Sephora China was after us as one of their first key launches,” she continued.

That store footprint hits 300 doors. Similarly, India will consist of just shy of 100 doors.

Given its population size, multiple beauty companies have eyed India as an emerging key country ripe with opportunity. The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., for example, has, teamed up with Indian retailer Nykaa on a brand incubation initiative.

“It’s a huge population and a nice number of doors. The dot-com should be great. I had women in my chair that were businesswomen when I was in the U.K., and they asked me, ‘When are you coming to India?’ In the U.S., Dennis [Gross] sees it in his practice, too,” Gross said.

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