Disruption and B Corp buzz to bolster L’Occitane’s GTR business in 2024

By Faye Bartle |

L'Occitane Travel Retail

Left: Mona L’Hostis, L’Occitane Group Head of Global Travel Retail Marketing, L’Occitane Group. Right: Sol de Janeiro is helping to power the Group’s growth in GTR.

L’Occitane has “challenging and exciting ambitions” for 2024, led by an aim to grow the weight of the Group’s global travel retail business from single to double digits.

Performance per region will depend on the continued bounce back of traffic, said Mona L’Hostis, L’Occitane Group Head of Global Travel Retail Marketing, in an exclusive interview during the 2023 TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes.

“Some [regions] are already ahead of 2019 while some are behind – especially Asia,” she elaborated, revealing that the company is, however, “super optimistic” for the coming year due to the speedy expansion of the Group’s brands in the channel.

“We have a lot of new projects and dynamism from our partners,” she said.

“We know we will need to do it without People’s Republic of China (PRC) passengers – at least in Europe and the Americas, and also the Middle East.

“It will come back, but not before the second semester, at least.

“Half the industry is thinking of a big return next year and half is thinking we don’t know yet and it won’t be before 2025.”

Travel retail growth powered by Sol de Janeiro and Grown Alchemist

According to the latest financial statement, the FY2024 Interim Report (released in November 2023), the L’Occitane Group’s net sales grew 25% at constant rates to exceed €1 billion in the first half of FY2024, mainly driven by its two largest brands, L’Occitane en Provence and Sol de Janeiro.

A rise in marketing expenses – a slice of which was allocated to promoting L’Occitane en Provence brand in travel retail, as well as in other markets – impacted on profits, but the move is seen as necessary investments “to capture growth opportunities and take the development of our brands to the next level”, as described by Chairman Reinold Geiger in his statement within the report.

The ‘expansion and growth in travel retail channels, led by Sol de Janeiro and Grown Alchemist, saw wholesale and other channel sales grow by 44.9% at constant rates’ during the same period, making this the Group’s largest channel (as opposed to retail and online channels), accounting for 40.8% of net sales.

With this in mind, it clearly a solid strategy to want to capitalise on the potential of GTR specifically within this.

Festive OOH marketing campaign for Sol de Janeiro

L’Occitane Group Travel Retail launched the second wave of its global OOH brand awareness campaign for Sol de Janeiro at international airports in December 2023.

On the dynamics influencing the company’s plans, L’Hostis said: “We can see that purchases and average ticket values are much higher and we have a clear shift in terms of nationalities, so the idea is to adapt to this new mix.

“This is an opportunity for L’Occitane – our major markets are Europe and the Americas and we are super strong in Asia so we are able to adapt to the shift in pax.”

The hugely popular Sol De Janeiro brand launched in travel retail in April 2023 with Dufry (now Avolta) as a pre-exclusive launch partner.

“It’s flying through the roof,” said L’Hostis. “We went big from the start then we opened the brand to everyone at the beginning of June and carried out a lot of animations.

“The brand is mainly driven by social media so there’s a big attraction among Gen Z, although we’re not only selling it to that demographic.

“Gen Z will represent half of global travellers in 2025 so for us, this is how we can make them go into the shops and purchase. There’s a lot of investment in animation and we are doing ‘disruption’.”

The brand launched in Australia travel retail in November at Sydney Airport with Heinemann, and there are more announcements in the pipeline.

“We are now expanding into Asia,” she said.

L'Occitane Travel Retail Awards

Left to right: L’Occitane Group’s Marion Amirouche, Brand Manager Sol De Janeiro Travel Retail and Mona L’Hostis, L’Occitane Group Head of Global Travel Retail Marketing.

The popularity of Sol de Janeiro among travelling consumers is clear to see.

The brand’s cult Brazilian Bum Bum Cream won the consumer-voted 2023 Travel Retail Awards for Best Skincare, Haircare, Bath & Body Product (under €40), as well as the programme’s ultimate accolade for Best Overall Product.

L’Occitane Group also also racked up a number of additional gongs, demonstrating the strength of the brand mix.

READ MORE: Awards make an impact: “We received requests for new listings immediately”

As L’Hostis said: “We have the perfect portfolio to be optimistic for the coming year.”

B Corp buzz

L’Occitane Group achieved B Corp certification in September 2023, enhancing the company’s long-held vision to make a positive impact on people and the planet.

“Our B Corp certification brands are Elemis, L’Occitane, Erborian and Melvita and the others will come soon as this is our target,” said L’Hostis.

Elemis b-Corp

In January 2023, it was announced that L’Occitane Group brand Elemis has achieved B Corp certification.

The goal is for LimeLife by Alcone, Sol de Janeiro and Grown Alchemist to become B Corp certified by 2026.

“This is the beginning of something super strong for us. It is a really good asset for us to talk about sustainability within the [GTR] industry and we will be able to share what we are doing and learn from others,” she continued.

Among its various initiatives to reduce waste, protect and regenerate biodiversity and reduce its environmental and carbon footprint is a pledge that all its plastic bottles will be manufactured from 100 percent recycled materials by 2025.

L’Occitane Travel Retail’s sustainability campaigns, including the last year’s Gift of Nature pop-ups and the Nature Positive activations in 2022, have served to highlight the importance of sustainability and biodiversity to travelling consumers.

The associated animations bring lush vibrancy to the airport environment, with flowers and foliage, specially designed TREX items, gamification with educational elements and much more brightening up terminal buildings in key locations.

Festive OOH marketing campaign for Sol de Janeiro

The second-wave OOH brand awareness campaign for Sol de Janeiro brought the ‘spirit of Brazil’ to airports including Charles de Gaulle and Orly in France, Copenhagen and Istanbul.

“At the beginning, the idea was to launch something a bit different and to bring a bit of nature inside the airport so this is what we have done,” said L’Hostis.

A new take on the topic is set to be unveiled this year and although L’Hostis wouldn’t be drawn on the details, she did outline some key moves on the horizon.

“We want to keep growing our core business with L’Occitane en Provence and Elemis, which are well settled in the travel retail space,”  she summarised.

“We will push strong support for Sol De Janeiro – this is the hot brand of the moment, and we really want to bet on that.

“And we will be targeting more specific locations for brands such as Erborian, which is performing well already – the same for Grown Alchemist.

“It will be less global with those brands, but still interesting. There will be a lot of new novelties – especially with L’Occitane and Sol De Janeiro.

“We are back doing animations and are really open to new projects with our partners.”

READ MORE: L’Occitane brings ‘joyful’ Sol de Janeiro campaign to airports in December

READ MORE: L’Occitane’s Sol de Janeiro makes Asia Pacific TR debut with Heinemann

READ MORE: Beauty brand L’Occitane Group secures B Corp certification 

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