Testing the Wa­ters

A large num­ber of small di­rect-to-con­sumer brands are testing brick-and-mor­tar.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - BY JEN­NIFER WEIL

A string of di­rect-to-con­sumer beauty brands are open­ing pop-ups in Paris to dip into brick-and­mor­tar retail.

PARIS — From Qiri­ness to Pre­scrip­tion

Lab and État Pur, a crop of small Eu­ro­pean di­rect-to-con­sumer beauty brands are launch­ing ex­pe­ri­en­tial pop-up shops here as the chan­nel pro­lif­er­ates and broad­ens in scope, and pro­vides a valu­able test­bed for on­line play­ers eye­ing free­stand­ing stores.

“We are growing quite fast in the French and ex­port mar­kets, [so] we need a flag­ship for the brand image,” ex­plained Mi-Ryung Beil­vert, founder and pres­i­dent of Qiri­ness, an at-home spa line kicked off in 2004 in the dig­i­tal realm. She said the idea with the brand's first pop-up, run­ning from Oct. 5 to Feb. 24, is also to try out the market for a stand-alone shop, while act­ing as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool in so­cial and tra­di­tional me­dia, as well as a brand am­bas­sador.

Chal­lenges abound for indie beauty brands try­ing to ex­pand their reach here. “There aren't very many dis­tri­bu­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties in France,” said Nancy Flavin, vice pres­i­dent, in­ter­na­tional sales at Strivectin. “There are only re­ally wellestab­lished chains and depart­ment stores. They all take a very sim­i­lar as­sort­ment, and they're well-es­tab­lished brands.”

Once more, en­ter­ing such re­tail­ers can be ex­pen­sive for indies, so some are turn­ing to pop-ups in­stead.

“One of the rea­sons they re­main ad­van­ta­geous is even if you say for a small brand one of th­ese ex­e­cu­tions is go­ing to be 70,000 euros, it's a bud­getable, re­li­able 70,000 euros,” said Ni­cholas Rus­sell, founder of real es­tate tech­nol­ogy com­pany Project X. “It's like an ad cam­paign. A lot of the ev­i­dence com­ing out sug­gests that even if the store doesn't do nec­es­sar­ily well…on­line sales [for a pop-up] gen­er­ally in­crease while the store is open, be­cause there is p.r. around it, there's so­cial me­dia push.”

“We live in an ephemeral econ­omy. Peo­ple crave for ex­pe­ri­ences and serendip­ity — happy sur­prises,” con­tin­ued Leïla Ro­chet Pod­vin, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of trends and con­sult­ing agency Cos­met­ics In­spi­ra­tion & Cre­ation.

Qiri­ness' 555-square-foot bou­tique in Paris' Marais dis­trict is di­vided into var­i­ous ar­eas: one where peo­ple can try prod­ucts, an­other for coach­ing and a sec­tion where peo­ple may sit and have a per­son­al­ized skin di­ag­no­sis plus a 12-minute, mini fa­cial. “So you can ex­pe­ri­ence and dis­cover the brand in three dif­fer­ent ways,” said Beil­vert.

Pre­scrip­tion Lab, which be­gan in late 2016 us­ing a beauty-box model, also op­er­ated its first ephemeral bou­tique in the Up­per Marais dis­trict, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2. Its pro­gram in­cluded ate­liers for yoga, plant-based cos­met­ics cre­ations, a beauty mas­ter class and talks given by women. On the Satur­day, there were classes on flash makeup and hairstyling, while on the Sun­day the bou­tique held an ate­lier for man­i­cures us­ing nat­u­ral pol­ish. A gift bar car­ried Pre­scrip­tion Lab's epony­mous nat­u­ral brand, hol­i­day kits, col­lec­tors' boxes and ac­ces­sories.

Liq­uides Cooler — a spin-off of the fiveyear-old Liq­uides Bar à Par­fums bou­tique — on rue Bréguet, was an­other pop-up in the neigh­bor­hood, ded­i­cated to per­fume, skin care and fra­granced ac­ces­sories, which were giftable. Run­ning from Nov. 7 to Dec. 31, it car­ried brands in­clud­ing Anya Hind­march Smells, 19-69, L:A Bruket, Odin New York and P.F. Can­dle Co.

In tan­dem with Paris' Japon­ismes

2018 cul­tural pro­gram, Shi­seido hosted a pop-up in the Marais, on rue de Turenne, be­tween Nov. 22 and Dec. 2. Called Shi­seido Ja­panese Beauty Sta­tion, it served as a cel­e­bra­tion of the com­pany's 140-year his­tory and show­cased prod­ucts old, such as Mod­ern Color Face Pow­der from 1932 and Shi­seido Sun Oil from 1965, and new, which could be pur­chased, like Ul­timune Power In­fus­ing Con­cen­trate and items from the Waso col­lec­tion.

On­line skin-care brand État Pur had cho­sen the Marais for its first pop-up last year, but opened its sec­ond in the Gare Saint-Lazare train sta­tion on Oct. 16. The 245-square-foot shop is op­er­a­tional seven days per week through Jan. 30, and from Mon­day to Fri­day it opens early, at 7:30 a.m.

“Ben­e­fit­ing from this first pop-up ex­pe­ri­ence and a very pos­i­tive re­sult — as much for the brand ex­pe­ri­ence for our clients as the vis­i­bil­ity — we wanted to re­new the ex­pe­ri­ence in a heav­ily fre­quented area, the mall of Gare Sain­tLazare in Paris,” said Astrid Des­mond, di­rec­tor of État Pur.

It's a test that could lead to a bou­tique in a neigh­bor­hood with high traf­fic, years af­ter the brand launched and opened a first brick-and-mor­tar lo­ca­tion on Paris' Left Bank in late 2011, which sub­se­quently shut­tered.

With the pop-up, it's key to let peo­ple live the ul­ti­mate brand ex­pe­ri­ence thanks to per­son­al­ized ser­vice, ac­cord­ing to Des­mond. As such, État Pur's popup's cen­tral area fo­cuses on quick skin di­ag­no­sis and try­ing out the Pure Ac­tives meant for ap­pli­ca­tion di­rectly on skin and Biomimetic-patented cos­met­ics for ev­ery­day use, such as cleansers or mois­tur­iz­ers. Vis­i­tors also learn about the skin's func­tions here.

Tablets are avail­able, so peo­ple may scan prod­ucts to learn about their clean in­gre­di­ents. And for the pop-up, État Pur con­ceived dis­cov­ery kits con­tain­ing three items, which start at 23.50 euros.

“It's a true first meet­ing with our con­sumers,” said Des­mond. “Af­ter, they know they can buy on­line through the site etat­pur.com.”

South Korean skin-care brand Dr.

Jart also popped up a 445-square-foot ephemeral shop in Saint-Lazare, on

Nov. 7, which has a Ceramidin theme, since the line's for­mula and pack­ag­ing were up­graded. Other such pop-ups are sprout­ing around the world, too.

“Why the Saint-Lazare sta­tion? It's very sim­ple — this is the per­fect lo­ca­tion to meet many Parisians,” said Den­nis SungSue Yang, deputy gen­eral man­ager of Dr. Jart's in­ter­na­tional busi­ness di­vi­sion. He said the spot is also in keep­ing with the “Dr. Jart meets art” bent, since artists such as Claude Monet and Gus­tave Caille­botte made paint­ings of the sta­tion, and it plays a key role in Émile Zola's novel “La Bête Hu­maine.”

Pop-ups can have an artis­tic bent like

Dr. Jart's Fil­ter Space, the brand's flag­ship in Seoul where there are fre­quently col­lab­o­ra­tions with lo­cal artists. “We do not have our own space like Fil­ter Space here,” the ex­ec­u­tive con­tin­ued. “So a pop-up store can be an al­ter­na­tive way to de­liver a sim­i­lar project.”

Speak­ing be­fore the Saint-Lazare bou­tique's clo­sure on Nov. 13, Yang said: “The pop-up is built to make con­sumers live the Ceramidin ex­pe­ri­ence. Peo­ple will be able to try the new prod­ucts, take funny pic­tures and get spe­cial of­fers to use in the near­est Sephora.”

That hap­pened to be nearby in the train sta­tion. But in the pop-up, peo­ple can or­der the brand's prod­ucts via dig­i­tal de­vices con­nected to sephora.fr, as well.

Mai­son Cartier crafted an artis­tic, mul­ti­sen­so­rial ex­pe­ri­ence in the form of a month­long pop-up in the Marais, called Mille Facettes (or A Thou­sand Facets). Open from Oct. 12 to Nov. 4, it paid homage to the house's new fra­grance Cartier Carat that's meant to be an ol­fac­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a di­a­mond's bril­liance, full of mov­ing, diffracted light and color, for which in-house per­fumer Mathilde Lau­rent trans­posed light's seven fun­da­men­tal col­ors into a juice with an equal num­ber of cor­re­spond­ing flo­ral notes.

For the pop-up, the Bureau of Ex­tra­or­di­nary Af­fairs art and de­sign stu­dio con­ceived an im­mer­sive in­stal­la­tion full of prisms, where one vis­i­tor at a time could ex­pe­ri­ence a light show rem­i­nis­cent of a di­a­mond's lus­ter set to sound.

“It is putting this scent in mo­tion and in image,” said Léa Vig­nal Kenedi, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of fra­grance at Cartier.

Peo­ple could try out Carat and the brand's other per­fumes, plus have their Cartier per­fume bot­tles en­graved or por­traits cre­ated in the col­ors of the rain­bow dur­ing ate­liers held over the week­ends.

“To­day, we have to to meet our clients, and the meet­ing is not made around a trans­ac­tion,” con­tin­ued Vig­nal Kenedi. “Brands need to or­ches­trate this.”

The État Pur pop-up.

The Qiri­ness pop-up.

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