NEW YORK — La Prairie is bringing a more Swiss than ever retail concept to North America.
The brand, sticking to an “if it ain’t broke” philosophy of embracing its Swiss heritage that’s no doubt contributing to reportedly double-digit growth year-over-year, will open a completely revamped shop-in-shop at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street on Saturday. It’s only the second time the brand’s presentation has had a significant update in its space here since entering the retailer’s doors 37 years ago, as well as the first U.S. retailer to introduce the concept.
The new look, which draws inspiration from Swiss contemporary architecture and the Land Art movement popularized in the Sixties and Seventies, was conceptualized by Stana Pijunovic, La Prairie’s chief architect. A handful of materials — largely consisting of wood and mineral elements — were placed thoughtfully throughout the almost entirely gray, 530-square-foot space in Bloomingdale’s, including a 95-square-foot treatment room. A series of nine display areas, a discovery table and sleek, matte merchandising risers are accompanied by two custom tester units and a custom consultation table. The location will be the site for two treatments exclusive to Bloomingdale’s as well: a Swiss hand massage available at counter and a 60-minute caviar-infusion facial.
“The first thing we wanted to do was propose a specific space where she can breathe…have her services and a [brand] touchpoint. This contact with the consumer is really privileged,” Pijunovic said of a “calm and comfortable” consultation area designed to spare customers from a beauty floor that has become “too loud” and “too aggressive.”
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Retail locations outfitted with the new design code initially bowed in Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris in May and David Jones in Melbourne, Australia, and IFC in Hong Kong in September.
“The ambition of the concept is to express the brand in its own terms in more doors. Out of U.S. distribution, we have only 20 percent of our stores, which are actually personalized, [meaning] 80 percent of our stores are using the retailer’s features. There was no brand expression,” François Le Gloan, president, La Prairie Americas/Oceania, told WWD of a new approach to U.S. business.
He detailed that the plan is to introduce this concept into most U.S. doors so that in five to six year’s time, up to 50 percent of La Prairie’s retail presence in the country could be outfitted with this design.
While it occurred prior to the new design code, last year’s counter revamp at Bergdorf Goodman reportedly resulted in growth that significantly outpaced the pace of the overall beauty department. The same was said to have happened when the Galeries Lafayette space was unveiled this spring, where La Prairie’s growth is outpacing that of the category by double digits. Greg Prodromides, chief marketing officer of La Prairie, declined to comment on figures and performance in specific doors.
“We measure the short-term impact of how we accelerate our sales versus the beauty floor,” was all Prodromides would say on the topic.
When asked if the look and feel of the new look will vary by market, Prodromides maintained that a unified concept will be expressed in all regions, give or take slight nuances in selling format. For instance, the counter model is dominant in Asia, he explained, which differs from the U.S. in terms of space.
“There’s only one brand image, you know. There’s not one brand image per country or region,” said Le Gloan, noting that another nuance taken into account is the way consumers try the product. In Asia, to accommodate customers who want to sit at a table and have a consultation, dedicated consultation spaces have been expanded from the usual one to two tables “because 100 percent of [Asian] consumers want face to face consultation.” In the U.S., Le Gloan pointed out, consumers are interested in makeup touch-ups, standing up and trying products around a single display table or receiving services like facials.
“It’s a concept that can be expressed in a shop-in-shop approach but also on a back wall or in other retail [sites] where we have a back wall and a gondola,” Prodromides added. “We translate this concept and take into account the different retail psychology [of the market].”
The brand’s updated look and feel coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Skin Caviar Collection. The range, which originally launched with Skin Caviar dermo beads, has been a key driver of sales for decades, with industry sources estimating that the collection drives 40 percent of the business globally. Today, there are 12 products int the range, including Skin Caviar Absolute Filler, introduced last month and in the midst of a global rollout. The $590 daily moisturizer contains an airless pump that dispenses a measured dose for face and for the neck and décolleté, and also ushers in an updated formula and the addition of Caviar Absolute, a new ingredient developed through the process of centrifugation. The same source projected that Filler could account for almost 10 percent of Skin Caviar’s business within one year.
Le Gloan couldn’t reveal what percentage of the business Skin Caviar constitutes, but called it the “number-one collection” that’s propelled meaningful growth for the company overall. He added that Skin Caviar was generating double-digit growth before the introduction of the nearly $600 Filler moisturizer.
“It’s also creating a halo [effect] on other products of the collection,” Le Gloan said. “The more we speak about caviar, the more we launch caviar products. There is no consumer fatigue around caviar at all.”