Dou­glas’ In­die Beauty Ex­pan­sion

The Euro­pean re­tailer is up­ping its fo­cus on in­die beauty brands across the Con­ti­nent.

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY AL­LI­SON COLLINS

Euro­pean beauty re­tail gi­ant Dou­glas is go­ing small.

The re­tailer has linked with the In­die Beauty Me­dia Group to deepen its as­sort­ment, bring­ing small and niche brands to con­sumers across Europe. Through the part­ner­ship, IBMG will help Dou­glas source and on­board new in­die beauty brands across cat­e­gories. Dou­glas will also play a big role in IBMG’s Euro­pean ex­pan­sion as the launch spon­sor for the Ger­man lan­guage ver­sion of dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tion Beauty In­de­pen­dent, and the of­fi­cial re­tail spon­sor for In­die Beauty Expo Berlin in May.

“The trend in­die beauty is grow­ing in Europe,” said Dou­glas chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tina Müeller. “It’s a trend com­ing from the U.S. specif­i­cally, and [it hit] first the U.K. and now [it’s] ar­riv­ing in con­ti­nen­tal Europe. Dou­glas is fo­cus­ing on that trend. We have brand scouts work­ing for us in the U.S., west and east coast, but also in Asia…to col­lect in­ter­est­ing in­die brands for our as­sort­ment.”

Part­ner­ing with IBMG should help Dou­glas build up the in­dies it chooses to sell, Müeller said.

“We want to source, on­board and fa­cil­i­tate in­de­pen­dent brands to­gether for the Dou­glas as­sort­ment,” she said. “It’s a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge to bring in­de­pen­dent brands into the as­sort­ment and to nour­ish them and to make them big, or big­ger…it needs spe­cific care and spe­cific mar­ket­ing, and here, IBMG has ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Dou­glas, which has 2,400 stores across Europe in 21 coun­tries, has ex­per­i­mented with in­die beauty be­fore. The re­tailer has started to mer­chan­dise in­die beauty on a spe­cific “trend se­lec­tion” ta­ble, Müeller said, that in­cludes more in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the prod­ucts and brand, like founder sto­ries. Those dis­plays have been rolled out in 50 Ger­man Dou­glas lo­ca­tions, and are pro­duc­ing “great re­sults,” Müeller said.

“It works very well be­cause it’s the cen­ter of at­ten­tion,” Müeller said.

Fu­ture in­die beauty brands will con­tinue to be mer­chan­dised in a way that brings at­ten­tion to them, she noted, and will be sold on­line as well as tested at re­tail.

Some brands may even grad­u­ate from that ta­ble-based as­sort­ment, she noted. From the first wave of in­dies, The Or­di­nary, for ex­am­ple, has been so suc­cess­ful that it’s now go­ing to be mer­chan­dised among the gen­eral as­sort­ment, she said.

She ex­pects the in­die beauty as­sort­ment to do par­tic­u­larly well in Ger­many, Italy, the Nether­lands and Poland, she said. “Ger­mans are very keen on or­ganic re­gional lines…the green party is very strong in Ger­many,” Müeller said.

Cat­e­gory wise, Müeller ex­pects skin care and nutri­tional sup­ple­ments to do well across Europe, as well as the sleep cat­e­gory. Last fall, Dou­glas had a com­pe­ti­tion for in­die brands called the For­ward Beauty Chal­lenge — of those brands, she es­ti­mated about 80 per­cent fo­cused on the skin care or beauty nu­tri­tion cat­e­gories. “Other cat­e­gories, like hair, fra­grance or makeup are more sec­ondary,” she noted.

Since Müeller joined Dou­glas in

2017, the busi­ness has been work­ing to mod­ern­ize, specif­i­cally fo­cus­ing on the brick-and-mor­tar ex­pe­ri­ence (and ser­vices), dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing its prod­uct as­sort­ment, strength­en­ing e-com­merce op­er­a­tions, build­ing out a CRM plat­form, and the up­dat­ing the Dou­glas brand. The re­tailer’s owned brands help dif­fer­en­ti­ate it in the age of Ama­zon, Müeller noted, and Dou­glas plans to grow them to make up about 30 per­cent of the over­all busi­ness. Dou­glas is launch­ing two new brands, one in skin care and one in sup­ple­ments, in the com­ing months, she added.

For Dou­glas’ most re­cent fis­cal year, sales in­creased 17 per­cent to 3.3 bil­lion Eu­ros, and e-com­merce sales rose 11 per­cent, to 423 mil­lion Eu­ros.

For IBMG, which has grown rapidly in the U.S., Dou­glas marks its largest re­tail part­ner­ship to date. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has pre­vi­ously part­nered with Neiman Mar­cus, FeelUnique and Shen Beauty to bol­ster the in­die of­fer­ings of those re­spec­tive re­tail­ers.

“It’s huge,” said Nader Naeymi-Rad, co­founder of the In­die Beauty or­ga­ni­za­tion. “They’re the lead­ing om­nichan­nel re­tailer in Europe. They have very much a lead­er­ship po­si­tion in a lot of the mar­kets where they’re ac­tive, and they have a very rich his­tory of bring­ing in brands and try­ing to be the first place where cus­tomers find new prod­ucts.”

“They philo­soph­i­cally un­der­stand how in­de­pen­dent brands can be a key part of their strat­egy to dif­fer­en­ti­ate based on in­no­va­tion,” he con­tin­ued.

Dou­glas isn’t the only re­tailer that has upped its fo­cus on in­die beauty in re­cent years. The wave started in the U.S., where an in­flux of in­dies caused many ma­jor play­ers to re­vamp their strate­gies. Neiman Mar­cus part­nered with the

In­die Beauty group, for ex­am­ple, while Bloom­ing­dale’s has launched in-store ex­per­i­men­tal re­tail con­cepts with Glowhaus and Wel­lChemist. Nord­strom has also ex­per­i­mented, bring­ing niche brands in through a part­ner­ship with Space NK and part­ner­ing with Byrdie for pop-up beauty ex­pe­ri­ences.

“We’re act­ing as an ex­ten­sion of the Dou­glas buy­ing team,” Naeymi-Rad said. “We’re pro­vid­ing spe­cial­ized ex­per­tise, knowl­edge and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to bet­ter source and on­board brands.”

Dou­glas will play a large role in the In­die Beauty Expo’s first Berlin show later this year, he noted, where the global in­dies in at­ten­dance will all have ac­cess to the re­tailer’s team.

“We’re see­ing a broad re­al­iza­tion across the mar­ket that this tec­tonic shift we’ve been notic­ing over the past 10 years is reach­ing a tip­ping point,” Naeymi-Rad said. “In­die brands went from be­ing an od­dity… to be­ing in­ter­est­ing, cool, ‘maybe-weshould-do-some­thing-here so let’s dab­ble,’ to ‘we have to have a strat­egy here.’ Ev­ery ma­jor re­tailer has re­al­ized this isn’t go­ing any­where but up.”

A Dou­glas store in Frank­furt, Ger­many.

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