ECommerce might be all the rage these days but Coty still believes in the power of brick-and-mortar stores. "People are still social creatures; we still love the interaction with one another and we still want to go out and try products," Kristina Strunz, Coty's MD for Southeast Asia, told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE in an interview. She added that while eCommerce has offered convenience and accessibility, consumers still want to be in the position to discover something new.
Coty recently launched a new flagship store for Gucci Beauty at ION Orchard fitted with interactive tables and screens and educational product content. Much thought went into the construction of the physical store. The team took a look at various competitor stores at ION and noticed the trend of having a black-and-white colour scheme.
Hence, its strategic imperative was to "glow up" the new Gucci Beauty flagship store with bright lighting, having a blush pink colour tone around the store, and a cherry red flooring. Consumers can also sit at a table to try on different make-up looks virtually with the help of technology, and attend masterclasses at the flagship store.
"It's about communication, learning, experiencing, and utilising technologies not just for the sake of it but to enhance one's beauty experience," Strunz explained. The new flagship store, which took a record time of eight months to complete, also boasts an alchemist alcove which Strunz said is a more private and exclusive section of the store, and this feature is only available in Singapore.
According to Strunz, Singapore is part of the "new Coty strategy". While it might be a small market, the brand still wants to use Singapore as a launch pad to showcase retail excellence and product innovation. "Singapore is our jewel and to make our jewel shine, we are starting with some key prestige projects, with the Gucci Beauty boutique at ION being one of them," she said.
Strunz did not reveal the monetary value of the store, explaining that it is immeasurable. "By bringing this prestige project to Singapore, we want to create a home, as we call it the Gucci Home. We believe that once you feel comfortable at home, the sales will come in, the people will come back and spend longer time in the stores. It's not always only about the monetary part but also how you interact with the brand and with its products. That's much more than you can value in monetary terms," she explained.
While Strunz (pictured below) sees the value of brick-and-mortar stores, she the future of retail is O2O and consumers will choose where they want to shop. "We give consumers the choice. They can browse in-store to try out the product before buying online later on and having it delivered to their homes," she said.
Just like how Gucci Beauty wanted its new store to offer a glow up, the brand also wants to be bold and visible with its marketing, especially in the crowded online space. Hence, more than 50% of Gucci Beauty's marketing budget is parked under digital. It is also on TikTok and has been aggressive with the marketing of its new scent, Gucci Flora, serving TikTok users with ads fronted by American singer Miley Cyrus.
While digital is a more measurable channel for the brand, it is also not forgetting the traditional form of OOH. "After COVID, consumers are very receptive to OOH and we have invested a significant amount of money in OOH," Strunz said. It's Gucci Flora ads are also currently showing along the walkway of Orchard MRT station. "It is important that we have a dual strategy as it helps us to create visibility and awareness, which is something intangible but it's kind of planting a seed in consumers' heads about the brand," she added.
Pop-ups and bringing back the philosophy skincare brand
Pop-ups are also a popular engagement choice for Coty. It recently unveiled the Chloé Atelier Des Fleurs pop-up at Raffles City Shopping Centre to promote the fragrance. This is the first pop-up for the new Chloé fragrance in Southeast Asia and Coty is also hosting masterclasses and calligraphy sessions. The pop-up runs for four months, covering Christmas and Chinese New Year.
Coty decides which brands should have pop-ups based on their popularity and consumer insights. "What are the brands that are resonating with consumers the most? Some brands offer more engagement compared to others, for example, and are also more daring when it comes to engagement," she said.
Currently, Coty has two Gucci stores in Singapore and another two in Malaysia. The beauty company is eyeing Thailand next due to the "high level of sophistication [in the country] when it comes to retail experiences", Strunz said, especially in the area of skincare. According to her, Thailand's beauty market today is dominated by skincare and Coty wants to be able to capture this target market with unique and innovative products.
In Malaysia, it plans to "go big on mega animations" by bringing to consumers plenty of retailtainment. Citing Mid Valley and KLCC as examples, where its stores are present, Strunz said the huge space in the malls allows Coty to experiment with more executions and consumers can expect more freestanding brick-and-mortar experiences to build more brand engagement.
Coty's skincare ambitions aren't only confined to the Thailand market. In fact, it is in the process of rejuvenating the skincare brand philosophy and will relaunch during the first half of 2023 with a new brand positioning and retail model. "The brand has been rather quiet the last couple of years," Strunz said but the company believes that there is still a place for philosophy as it has a mix of cleansers and fragrances. "It's still a brand which can command a Gen Z approach and for me, the mission is to really bring that back," she added.