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L'Occitane plans Asian digital push

News, 23 August 2016

TOKYO/HONG KONG: Asia accounts for around half of L'Occitane's global revenues and now the French premium beauty retailer is aiming for further growth in the region with a digital push.

Just 10% of its sales currently come from e-commerce in Japan and China, compared with about 20% in the US and the UK, and L'Occitane wants to expand its digital presence while also not neglecting its established physical stores.

In a first for the company, it plans to turn its flagship store in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo into a digital store, where shoppers will be able to use an interactive theatre to take a virtual tour of the purple lavender fields of southern France, among other attractions.

Andre Hoffmann, L'Occitane's vice-chairman and managing director for Asia-Pacific, told Nikkei Asian Review that the company expected this will be a "showstopper" that will bring more people into the store. "We want to bring the nature to downtown Shinjuku," he said.

The company is also tapping into Asia's popular messaging apps, such as Line, to engage customers and promote its products in Japan.

But L'Occitane's ambitions do not stop with Japan because it sees opportunities for further growth in China and the rest of Asia-Pacific.

It already has 195 physical stores in 75 cities across mainland China – and is planning to build more in lower-tier cities – but it also recognises the powerful influence of digital channels on Chinese consumers.

With an established partnership with Alibaba already in place, L'Occitane is planning more exclusive launches on the Chinese e-commerce giant's Tmall online platform and also will start selling directly on WeChat, the popular messaging app.

Southeast Asia, where L'Occitane, has almost 80 shops, is seen as another growth area because of its growing middle-class.

The company even sees opportunities in Myanmar and Cambodia, where it is opening some boutiques with local partners, and later this year it will be opening its first shops in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Data sourced from Nikkei Asian Review; additional content by Warc staff