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Experience Matters: L’Occitane Boutique Brings Provence to Canada

The company will open experiential concept stores in two other locations this month, one in London and one in Paris.

With knowledge gleaned from its year-old experiential boutique in New York City’s Flatiron District, L’Occitane has now redesigned its Canadian flagship. One of the company’s largest doors, the 1,600-square-foot store in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre takes the digital experience to new levels.

The goal, according to Paul Blackburn, North American vice president of concept design, construction and merchandising, is to transport visitors to Provence.

“At Yorkdale, we have reimagined the natural elements of Provence [air, fire, water and earth] and expressed them through product and brand experiences. We wanted to create more fun, unexpected experiences, to surprise and delight the consumer, Blackburn explained.

L’Occitane commissioned School House as lead designers for the store. Keeping with the brand’s commitment to sustainability, all lighting is 100 percent LED and, for the first time in North America, an in-store bottling recycling program in partnership with Terracycle will be offered. A great deal of materials used are environmentally friendly.

L'Occitane Loads Up on Technology in
The boutique is located in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

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The focus of the digital bells and whistles in Flatiron were mostly featured at the culmination of a shopping trip — the Smart Beauty Fitting Room. With the new store, the experience kicks off right from the front of the store featuring a glass façade and a curved video wall. Nearby are two digital pods offering customers the chance to view the history between Provence and L’Occitane (one takes viewers through the lavender fields of Provence). Stories unfold inside of each capsule in a multisensory experience combining imagery, scent, light and sound.

That’s followed up throughout the store with product test and play areas, complete with shower sinks where water flows from illuminated domes. The interactive Skincare Bistro lets visitors experience scent from fragrance clouds. Beyond the unique experiences described above, newness is highlighted at the center of the boutique in an elegant exhibition-style product display, which is set beneath a radiating sun ceiling installation that changes color throughout the day, reminiscent of the iconic Provençal sunshine.

L'Occitane Loads Up on Technology in
The boutique makes a major visual impact.

Success in the Flatiron stores encouraged L’Occitane to  push the technology envelope. “Compared to our other New York City stores, Flatiron delivers stronger performances on several key performance indicators including conversion, average transactional value and skin-care share,” Blackburn said. “Consumers responded extremely well to the overall in-store experience, and particularly the community-technology combination at the Smart Beauty Fitting Room, the Gift Atelier, and the inviting lounge seating areas which offer a more intimate and relaxed consultation.”

L'Occitane Loads Up on Technology in
The Gift Atelier.

Canada’s Yorkdale mall was pinpointed for the latest iteration because it is one of the busiest malls in the country with 18 million annual visitors. “Yorkdale also has a robust digital presence that far surpasses that of any other mall of its kind, and socially, Yorkdale is conversing with its consumers via a growing Instagram feed of 29,000 followers,” Blackburn said.

The redesign is part of a larger expansion of the brand’s format. This month, L’Occitane will open experiential concept stores in two other locations: Regent Street in London and 86 Champs (Champs Elysées) in Paris. The Regent Street site will be the largest in its portfolio, spanning 6,450 square feet. The Paris site was created in collaboration with Pierre Herme, a French Pastry chef, and will feature beauty products alongside culinary treats.

The company calls its strategy “glocal,” driven by tailoring the customer experience with innovative and personalized services across the globe, while adapting the concepts according to local market specifications. “Just like with the Flatiron Experiential Community Boutique, it is not our intention to repeat or recreate this concept, but rather to learn from it, and use these lessons to influence the next generation of L’Occitane stores,” Blackburn explained.

Forty more of its Provençal-inspired “Sunshine Stores” will span across Europe, Asia, Russia, the U.S. and the Middle East before the end of next year, according to Caroline Le Roch, commercial chief officer North America. During fiscal year 2017, 51 new stores opened, growing to 1,514 doors. More than 100 stores were upgraded or relocated during the year.