On Location: Lancaster Monaco is returning to its skincare roots

By Benedict Evans |

Lancaster Monaco

Lancaster was forced to get creative with its production base, given the lack of available space in Monaco, resulting in an unassuming – albeit internally impressive – facility.

TRBusiness was on location at Lancaster’s R&D lab and production facility in Monaco, to learn more about its strategic goals for the year ahead, and its plans for travel retail expansion.

Coty subsidiary Lancaster, known for it’s range of high-end sun-care products, is building on the success of its (re)entry into the skincare market. Lancaster launched Ligne Princière, a multi-patented skincare set which features an essence, a serum, a moisturiser and an eye cream, into China last year

Currently only available in China (Hainan and Shanghai) through travel retail, domestic, and online channels, the face cream alone retails for $279 through the likes of Lotte Duty Free.

“It’s a highly specialised product,” said Victoria Engel, Director of Business Development at Coty, adding: “It needs brand ambassadors to assess customers on an individual level, to explain how and why it works.”

“The Monaco heritage is very appealing to our Chinese customer base,” noted Markus Strauss, VP Global Marketing Travel Retail, adding: “Regionally too there are always differing preferences for texture and feel for example. We’re already listed in ten stores in places like Hainan and Changzou, which is a really promising first step.”

“Our primary focus within travel retail is growing our market share in Europe and China,” Engel added, noting this is primarily why the product was market tested in China; it is arguably the largest skincare market globally and a vital litmus test for any business – new or established – wishing to launch a high-end skincare range.

Lancaster 365

Lancaster’s 365 skin repair range is one of its top-performing collection, and builds on several decades of research into photoaging, epigenetics, and biotech.

Europe accounts for over 65% of Lancaster’s business operations, and as it grows its customer base in China, it is also looking to establish itself further across APAC and Latin America.

“Singapore, Vietnam, Bali, Macau, Hong Kong, India – you name it. Our goal is to list in 100 stores across APAC alone, that’s not to mention Latin America; Mexico, Brazil, Argentina for example,” added Strauss.

Update: Golden Lift

Lancaster also has an ace in the hole: Golden Lift, a brand-new skincare range which has undergone hundreds of trials, which it says will be its new flagship skincare range as it re-asserts its heritage and market position.

I was afforded a sneak preview of the new product within its Monaco production facility, where Dr. Olivier Doucet, Vice President R&D at Coty, went into incredible detail regarding its meticulous formulation, and the unique factory-which-looks-like-an-apartment-complex in which Lancaster produces every product under (and for protection against) the sun.

Lancaster Golden Lift

Golden Lift underwent nearly 100 different prototypes over the course of an 18-month R&D process.

The launch of Golden Lift comes as part of a much larger roll-out for Lancaster generally, and travel retail forms an essential component as the brand re-positions itself as a leading skincare manufacturer.

“It’s key, because we are targeting what we call ‘ultimate escapers’ and we need to understand their destination, their purpose, and adapt to provide the ideal product,” noted Engel.

The development of Golden Lift is predicated on 50+ years of research into photoaging, the premature ageing of the skin due to sunlight exposure. Lancaster claims it uses less retinol than its competitors while offering deeper protection and repair at a cellular level.

Responding to the times

Doucet also points to cultural considerations as a core element of its end-to-end R&D process. “With prototyping, what works in Brazil and the US may not work in China , where they might apply 12, even 13 products at one time. Our Middle East consumers may want something richer, and the challenge for us is finding a compromise in terms of texture and product which can be acceptable across multiple regions.”

The Monaco factory and lab are also both carbon neutral, a feat Doucet pointed to as a rarity. Across the eight or so labs which fall under the Coty brand, it is only those in Monaco and Geneva which can claim carbon neutrality.

“We consider now that sustainability is the main driver of innovation,” noted Doucet, adding: “For example with our active ingredients we’ve pivoted to focus on bio-technologies and producing pure molecules with much less energy.

Lancaster Monaco

An inside look at the production line for all of Lancaster’ sincere and skincare products for global distribution.

In the manufacturing process we always look to produce without heat wherever possible, and we have teams always looking at ways of refining our process to ensure its done in the most sustainable, efficient manner possible.”

Golden Lift will be released officially in September 2024 and primarily distributed in key doors across Europe, though as Strauss pointed out, the vision for this new flagship product is truly a global one.

READ MORE: Coty unveils new boutiques at CDFG Sanya’s beauty haven Block C

READ MORE: Coty SVP Global Travel Retail Guilhem Souche on ‘retailisation’ in Asia

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