“With a crisis of this magnitude, the evolution of people’s expectations and behaviours will be profound and permanent,” says Filorga Global Travel Retail Director Nicolas Rimeau as he reflects on the sweeping and long-lasting impact of the pandemic crisis in travel retail and beyond.
Despite the overwhelming challenges, Rimeau’s outlook remains optimistic, underscoring the value of agility and ambition to effectively navigate the COVID-19 storm.
“Being a young and successful brand in travel retail brings a lot of advantages: agility, flexibility and ambition. Today, the travel retail industry is facing many challenges but what we do know is that Filorga can continuously and sustainably contribute to the growth of the skincare category.
“Adapting and evolving are key to responding to those changes… Putting the people at the heart of the strategy is the fundamental pillar to our recovery and to move towards a flourishing industry.”
In this interview, Rimeau discusses how he is leveraging Filorga’s early success in the channel to thrive in the new travel retail landscape. Filorga’s strategy leans on the brand’s popularity with its core Chinese demographic, reportedly quadrupling sales revenues in its first year at CDF Mall in Haitang Bay. Even amid COVID-19, Filorga almost doubled sales in Asia Pacific compared to the same period last year, says Rimeau.
He also urges parties in the industry Trinity to seek out true differentiation. “The era of standardisation is definitely over,” he says. “We have to offer more reasons to shop in travel retail than just offering prices and promotions. Creating a unique experience is a responsibility shared by airports, retailers and brands all together as three interdependent parts of the same ecosystem.”
What is the major focus for Laboratoires Filorga at the Virtual Travel Retail Expo? What lines, launches or campaigns will you emphasise and showcase?
Filorga is still a young brand in travel retail. We started in 2017 with Lagardère Travel Retail in Europe and DFS in Asia. In less than three years, Filorga entered the top 25 brands in the skincare category. This outstanding performance has been achieved by carefully expanding distribution only where the brand brings contribution to the category, adding growth to our retail partners.
Today, in South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, France and Italy, we are still far from full distribution. Filorga continues to grow at a fast pace and we have a world of opportunities in front of us.
Our objective for the Virtual Travel Retail Expo is therefore to increase Filorga’s awareness among travel retail stakeholders, strengthen our relationships with our partners and immerse all visitors in the unique world of Filorga.
As the first French laboratory in aesthetic medicine, we will showcase the products that embody the best of our DNA, whether that be through their technicity or their international reputation.
If you’re eager to discover what’s behind the four mysterious letters NCEF which make Filorga so unique, then you should definitely visit our booth!
What are your major targets by geography, channel or retailer type as you seek to tap into a recovering market?
Being a young and successful brand in travel retail brings a lot of advantages: agility, flexibility and ambition. Today, the travel retail industry is facing many challenges but what we do know is that Filorga can continuously and sustainably contribute to the growth of the skincare category.
Our first objective remains the same: create additional value for our existing and future partners by answering the specific needs of the skincare consumer.
Two years ago, Laboratoires Filorga opened its flagship travel retail store in the CDF Mall at Haitang Bay. How has this store performed compared to your other locations considering Hainan’s new duty free shopping policy?
In a story that The Moodie Davitt Report published in September, you noted a growth of +220% (YoY July/August) for duty free sales in Hainan. Without disclosing any confidential information, Filorga was about twice over this trend. What is even more impressive is that, in APAC, Filorga achieved almost double its sales overall versus the same period last year.
China’s domestic offshore duty free market has become a beacon of hope for the travel retail channel, particularly for the beauty category. In what ways are you engaging with this important demographic?
Since last year, China has become the market for Filorga. An entire team is dedicated purely for Chinese travel retail. They are based in Shanghai and Beijing and are in direct contact with the Chinese local market teams. They share the same offices and working intensively on satisfying the demand with a full set of dedicated tools and offers.
How has the pandemic crisis affected your distribution strategy?
Filorga has benefited a lot from the variety of our distribution network. Being sold in both perfumeries and pharmacies in Europe helped absorb the impact of the crisis, as most pharmacies stayed open during the lockdown.
The reinforcement of our digital strategy, teams and operations — initiated in early 2019 — has been of an immense help as well. However, some projects to open in new local markets, mostly in APAC, have been slightly postponed to end 2020 and early 2021.
How do you view the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the wider industry?
With a crisis of this magnitude, the evolution of people’s expectations and behaviours will be profound and permanent. Adapting and evolving are key to responding to those changes. Both will require close monitoring, anticipation, innovation and openness towards positive disruption. Putting the people at the heart of the strategy is the fundamental pillar to our recovery and to move towards a flourishing industry.
How do you think the channel can and should engage with travelling consumers to ensure a sustained recovery?
With less people travelling, penetration and conversion rates will become even more crucial. In an increasingly digitalised world where consumers have all the information on their smartphone, people are looking for a seamless and elevated shopping experience.
The era of standardisation is definitely over. We have to offer them much more reasons to shop in travel retail than just offering prices and promotions. Creating a very unique experience is a responsibility shared by airports, retailers and brands all together as three interdependent parts of the same ecosystem.
How would you like to see industry partnerships evolve as we enter a new era for travel and travel retail?
More than ever, industry partners have to put their work together. The Trinity model is a formidable foundation to encourage people to rediscover the pleasure of travelling, and the pleasure of shopping in travel retail. We are fully mobilised and committed to playing our part as a brand toward entering a new prosperous era for the channel.