Beauty Tech Live review
Elevating the online fragrance experience
In an outstanding session, Puig Chief Operating Officer Javier Bach discussed lessons from the past pandemic-hit year, the role of the brick & mortar store and Puig’s ‘brilliant basics’ approach to standing out online.
In another of the week’s highlight sessions, Puig Chief Operating Officer Javier Bach discussed the challenges and opportunities of experiencing and selling fragrances online. Family-owned fragrance company has Puig forecast that 30% of its business will come from digital by 2025. In an interview with BW Confidential Editor-in-Chief Oonagh Phillips, Bach discussed Puig’s online acceleration, lessons over the last year, the role of brick & mortar stores and Puig’s ‘brilliant basics’ approach to standing out in a competitive digital marketplace.
“2020 was a year of learnings,” Bach said. “We originally predicted 25% of our business will become digital by 2025, but our ecommerce business in prestige fragrances went from 12-13% in 2019 to 24% 2020, reaching our projections five years early. It was five years of digital acceleration in one.” Despite the tremendous growth of digital, Bach said that there will always be a place for physical stores — particularly those with omnichannel capacities — in the fragrance industry. “Offline stores will always be important, particularly in perfumery,” he said. “This is because no one has cracked the formula on how customers can smell online, so we rely on physical stores to take care of that part of the journey. “We saw exponential growth in our own ecommerce, but when you look at e-tailing, pure players and marketplaces, we noticed that omnichannel players performed better than their pure digital counterparts. It’s not online versus offline, but how you amplify both of them.”
Click on the video to play the full interview with Javier Bach
When asked if a maturation point for online will soon be reached, Bach said: “We believe that online will become more relevant in the years to come. Customers who have shifted to online shopping won’t go back to in-store shopping; and the investments that retailers and brands have put towards enhancing the digital shopping experience will push even more consumers to shop online.” With so much emphasis placed on digital, how must the brick & mortar store evolve to keep up? “The role of physical stores has to evolve. Online brings so much convenience, forcing brands and retailers to rethink how their stores operate. Brick & mortar needs to become more experiential and elevated. If they rely on a purely transactional approach, they will lose the race to online. An omnichannel approach is key. It’s not online versus offline, but instead how you incorporate both to enhance the consumer journey.” According to Bach, those who fail to meet the challenge of omnichannel will be left behind in the new retail landscape. He said: “The huge online acceleration hasn’t resulted in net growth for our industry. In many markets, this growth has been at the expense of offline networks and this will force door closures, especially for those who fail to adapt. COVID-19 has simply accelerated these underlying dynamics.”
The brick & mortar store has to evolve to become more elevated and experiential, Bach says. Pictured above is Penhaligon’s striking pop-up at Hamad International Airport (launched in partnership with Qatar Duty Free).
Puig has deployed a number of online fragrance innovations and communication strategies to adapt to the growing online shift. “Each touchpoint has the capacity to add or destroy value for consumers and brands need to figure out how to add value at every moment,” he added. “Puig is known for creativity and disruption and our teams are constantly provoking the status quo through content, product development and digital innovation.” Bach also discussed some of Puig’s latest fragrance technology achievements and how these innovations will impact its future. He said, “We have developed a fragrance profiler, which is a proprietary technology that combines the largest perfume database with amazing ingredient images and relevant keywords. You can’t smell the product, but it’s the closest thing you can get using images and words.
In 2020, Puig introduced AI.LICE, an innovative new mobile technology that allows customers to preview scents in real time without testing or smelling it
Puig-owned heritage fragrance brand Penhaligon’s was the first to introduce the AI.LICE technology through its ‘Magic Monocle’ digital tool
“The profiler also enables users to create their own olfactive profiles,” he added. “For retailers, this gives them more targeted sampling and for consumers they can share with friends to enhance gifting. We’ve implemented this tool on our own websites and with selected retail partners. So far, the results have been amazing in terms of conversion, engagement and average transaction value. Puig has also launched the ‘Air Parfum’ tool which lets customers trial and smell various fragrances without getting over-saturated. “We’re also looking for new ways to empower our beauty advisors through technology,” Bach said. “Our Air Parfum tool removes the saturation pain point when it comes to fragrance sampling and through this, we’re enhancing our beauty advisors ability to connect with customers and enhance the trial experience.” Summing up, Bach said that ‘brilliant basics’ will help fragrance brands stand out in a crowded online marketplace. “You need to be excellent in terms of channel search, visibility, ratings and reviews to stand out. It’s really about having brilliant basics and having effective execution. Part of our strategy is mastering the omnichannel connection and conversion of consumers. Brands need to understand who their customer is and all the touchpoints of their shopping journey.”
The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 295 | 18 May 2021
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