FRANCE. Guerlain, one of the oldest perfume players in the world, generated high double-digit growth in travel retail in 2018 as it reaped the rewards of its strategy to prioritise innovations in the channel. And a strong 2019 is also expected on the back of new launches and retail developments.

“Travel retail is becoming the ‘spokesmarket’ for the brand. Our innovations will be seen here first. We used to launch in local markets and then travel retail, but now the channel has become the heart of our strategy.”

The Parisian beauty house – part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury conglomerate – posted stellar travel retail growth of 34% in 2018, more than double the brand’s overall growth . This was up substantially from 18% in 2017, and the house expects another double-digit rise this year.

Speaking exclusively to The Moodie Davitt Report, Guerlain Travel Retail Worldwide Director Elise Vanden Brande said: “Travel retail is becoming the ‘spokesmarket’ for the brand. Our innovations will be seen here first. We used to launch in local markets and then travel retail, but now the channel has become the heart of our strategy. Our aim is to grow the brand on a worldwide basis – including Asia – through travel retail.”

Guerlain Travel Retail Worldwide Director Elise Vanden Brande is hopeful that travel retail will see at least a 25% rise in sales this year, following high double-digit growth in both 2018 and 2017.

As a showcasing opportunity, many beauty brands already use the channel to widen their global appeal but under Guerlain Chairman and CEO Laurent Boillot there has been a step change in the company’s approach. For example, innovations such as the first Guerlain Parfumeur pop-up at Paris Charles de Gaulle last December are being followed up with more locations (more below).

Making progress with market share

The 34% growth last year was largely like-for-like and according to Vanden Brande there were increases across all geographical regions. “We are gaining market share in the key airports in Asia, which is a bit new for us. In Europe we are also growing even though the market here is not as dynamic.” In the Middle East, the company is refocusing on Mon Guerlain and the Absolus d’Orient collection which also helped up to gain share there last year,” she noted.

The Rouge G launch has multiplied makeup sales by five according to Guerlain.

This year Guerlain – a three-axis brand that is well balanced across fragrance, cosmetics and skincare – expects to see double-digit growth for a third year in a row across the company. “For travel retail specifically we should like to see at least a 25% rise,” said Vanden Brande.

Her confidence is underpinned by plans that are in train. “We aim to take advantage of the skincare market which is growing and will continue to develop our makeup, starting with Rouge G (the brand’s first customised lipstick on the market, based on both the colour and case). This launch has multiplied our makeup sales by five,” Vanden Brande noted.

Fifteen cases were part of the initial launch along with 30 lipstick shades, but another eight cases will debut this April, which should increase interest further. Also new is the natural glow foundation, L’Essentiel, with another first for the market: 97% of the ingredients are natural. The product just launched this month.

The heritage of icons such as Shalimar underscores the modern Guerlain Parfumeur concept that is set for major expansion.

On the fragrance side – historically the heart and soul of Guerlain with iconic lines such as Shalimar – there are several projects ready for the market. On 1 March, Bloom of Rose will launch as the latest addition to the Mon Guerlain master line, while the fresh fragrance portfolio of Aqua Allegoria will be a focus in its 20th anniversary year.

Guerlain Parfumeur adds first permanent location in travel retail

With perfume being so important to Guerlain – it is one of only a handful of beauty houses worldwide retaining its own in-house perfumer – the Guerlain Parfumeur retail concept, as currently seen at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, is on the move.

The temporary pop-up in Paris – closing soon – now has a sister store in Beijing Capital International Airport, opened a few days ago. The Moodie Davitt Report understands that the unit is permanent this time and has been revamped in much lighter colours with a fragrance bar at the front. The official inauguration is set for May.

Click on the image to access The Moodie Davitt Report’s special anniversary report on Guerlain at 190 years, published in 2018.

A Guerlain Parfumeur corner is also scheduled to open at Turkey’s Istanbul New Airport, to which flights are now not expected to fully transition from the current main hub, Istanbul Atatürk Airport, until March. Another unit in the new international terminal of the 29.4 million passenger Domodedovo Airport in Moscow is expected later in the year. “These are the locations we have confirmed so far, but we are looking at others of course,” said Vanden Brande.

Across all its channels, Guerlain is targeting an ambitious 150 Guerlain Parfumeur stores by 2025 as it looks to showcase its highest-end lines to consumers around the globe while strongly underlining the house’s perfume heritage.

The Guerlain Parfumeur pop-up at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (above) has had a design update for the permanent store that has just opened at Beijing Airport. (Pic: © K Rozario)

It is less than two years since Guerlain decided to expand its ‘Guerlain Parfumeur depuis 1828’ concept store on rue Saint Honoré in Paris. The focus on personalisation gives customers completely tailor-made products and services.

In total, 110 fragrances are immediately available, classified into four main olfactory families. Customers can take advantage of a digital fragrance consultation to identify their personal olfactory profile and, through an algorithm, they can find their own ‘signature’ scent.

Based on the performance of the initial airport pop-up in Paris, the new locations in Beijing and Istanbul could see some very strong interest. With its rich history, Guerlain understands well the emotions that a scent can conjure – and we will share another exclusive story shortly that underlines this key point. In the meantime, the brand’s move to capture those feelings in combination with a personalised retail approach comes at a time when research suggests that this is what travelling shoppers are increasingly seeking out – and willing to pay more for.


[‘An ode to orientalism’: Click on the icon to view the story of Shalimar, the world’s first oriental perfume.]


[This video, ‘Rouge G – Ma Teinte, Mon Ecrin, Mon Style – 450 possibilités’, has generated almost 3.3 million views since its launch in April 2018].