BEAUTYSPY’S GERMAN LINK
Byline: Melissa Drier
BERLIN — For the moment, it’s strictly confidential, but in mid- to late-April, BeautySpy.com will reveal its beauty secrets to online shoppers in Germany and the U.K.
The new beauty site is “effectively a prestige e-commerce site selling high-end products that have limited or no distribution in Europe,” said Amy Gordinier, director of marketing and PR and one of BeautySpy’s five young founders.
Gordinier was most recently international marketing director for Manifesto, the Isabella Rosselini color cosmetics range. She is joined at BeautySpy by Christina Howell, a former consultant for Boston Consulting Group, who oversees supplier partnerships; Lisa Leiby, previously at Credit Suisse, who heads up financial and business development; Aimee Sutton, a marketing expert from Marconi Communications, who is responsible for site content, and Michael Rees, an ex-consultant for McKinsey, who is in charge of logistics and operations.
BeautySpy.com’s headquarters are Munich, with offices in London and New York. Seed capital was raised by InternetMediaHouse.com AG, Munich, a multimedia company active in media services; e-commerce such as City24.de, Germany’s second largest Internet shopping mall, and consulting services including IMH.com USA, which develops software for Internet and Internet TV. InternetMediaHouse has a 40 percent stake in the new beauty site; the partners hold the remaining 60 percent.
BeautySpy aims to supply hard-to-find, high-end specialty products to discerning e-shoppers, who can access the site in German or English. In the start-up stage, both the German and English sites will offer the same assortment, but as BeautySpy develops, Gordinier said the content will become more localized in editorial content and product mix. BeautySpy’s portfolio includes color cosmetics, skincare, haircare, bath and body, and personal and home fragrances.
Among the featured suppliers are Tony & Tina and Valerie of Beverly Hills for makeup, Eve Lom and Z. Bigatti in skincare, the Australian haircare line Kusco-Murphy and fragrances from Calypso.
“We intend to keep [the assortment] concise, and our strategy is not to carry more than 100 brands at a given time,” Gordinier said.
BeautySpy will be dealing directly with manufacturers, not distributors, she noted. Therefore, she claims this enables her to bypass European selective distribution agreements, which allow companies to limit or refuse sales of prestige beauty brands in certain channels, such as hypermarkets, but at the same time keeps them from being sold over the Internet within the European Union. These “are not an issue for us,” she declared.
As the name BeautySpy indicates, the spy theme is central to the site. BeautySpy is a character, the consumer’s personalized beauty agent.
“She is the central animated beauty guru whose mission is to search the world with her special agents” for the most exciting beauty products, Gordinier explained. What’s more, editorial sections such as “BeautySpy Under Cover,” written as a journal in BeautySpy’s voice, will cover “hot restaurants, hip bars, cool stores and other lifestyle themes” in various cities. For the site’s launch, the focus will be on London, Berlin and Los Angeles. In addition, e-shoppers and surfers can take a peek at their BeautySpy horoscope.
While Gordinier would not discuss revenue projections or targeted hits, she said BeautySpy’s goal “is to be the premiere e-com beauty site in Europe. That’s simple and straightforward,” she laughed. “But we hope to establish credibility by having a selective portfolio, and by offering proprietary and localized editorial comment.”
The BeautySpy team chose Germany and the U.K. as initial launch countries because Germany is number-one in beauty market share in Europe, she said. “And we wanted to be in the U.K. because London, in particular, is the leading fashion and beauty center of Europe. All the trends are coming out of there, and as Europe’s number-three beauty market, it’s also not small. Plus, in terms of the products we want to carry, there’s a lot of consumer knowledge out there.”
The company plans to roll out in France, Italy and other European countries, although no specific dates are set.
Prior to BeautySpy.com’s April launch, interested users can register on the lively animated site, whose visuals are reminiscent of the titles of James Bond movies.
“For you agents out in the field desperate for that perfect lipstick or your favorite moisturizer, here’s a little help from HQ,” promises BeautySpy. And for the lucky winner, a 500 Euro BeautySpy shopping spree.