by Elisabeth King
Continued growth is a given for any brand, but maintaining the right balance between exclusivity and increased sales centres on managing the divergence between short-term goals and on-going investment. Absolue is Lancôme’s longest established brand and was launched in 1965. Four years ago, the prestige French skincare leader kick-started a long-term strategy to develop Absolue as a brand-within-a-brand. A successful move that catapulted the franchise to the top of the prestige skincare market in Australia.
How did they do it? First by never breaking our promise to the consumer, says Pamela Nicol, National Training Manager for L’Oréal Luxe. “High quality skincare with high service partnered with exclusivity has established such a heightened level of confidence with consumers that they come to Absolue year after year. Innovative new products are also a big part of the magic formula, and this is what really sets the Absolue franchise apart”.
Absolue sustains its luxury positioning through all customer touchpoints, including communications, product design and packaging, retail partners, price points and curated releases across its three major sub-groups - the Bx entry range, Precious Cells with its cutting-edge stem cell technology and L’Extrait, its top-of-the-line supra-luxury offer.
World class service has become crucial to the success of the super-premium skincare category and women are seeking out full service environments when it comes to buying high-end, results-driven products. Our Art of Service initiative was launched last year, says Nicol. “It’s all about the generosity of the Absolue brand and we staged a roadshow around Australia to introduce our beauty advisors to the concept. It is available in our top 40 doors, of which 20 of the major city doors have dedicated Absolue spaces where we invite customers to step away from the crowd. We hang up their coats so they can fully relax as they receive expert diagnosis of their specific skincare needs”.
The Art of Service ritual is very much linked to facials, says Nicol.
“After an initial consultation, customers are offered The Absolue Treatment - a premium facial that lasts for one hour and 15 minutes and includes using prescribed products from the Absolue range to
suit individual skin types, a facial massage and relaxing pressure point techniques based on Shiatsu. It’s the perfect way to introduce new products to existing Absolue customers, those who may be using other Lancôme franchises such as Hydra Zen and to reach out to new clients”.
Many premium skincare brands have an exclusive hero ingredient and Absolue is no exception. The groundbreaking active is the Lancôme Rose Extract. The unique hybrid Centifolia roses are grown in the Plateau de Valensole in Provence by Madame Emmanuelle Ravel.
A third generation French farmer, Ravel oversees the rose fields all year round and the hand-harvesting of the blooms in May each year. Lancôme also has a special partnership with Maison Robertet, a French fragrance house founded in 1875 which has incredible expertise with natural raw materials.
“We have introduced a new extract - the CO2 Rose Extract - in such recent releases as Lancôme Absolue Rose Mask and Rose Lotion”, says Nicol. “It uses a process called Supercritical CO2 Extraction, an eco-friendly technique that utilises carbon dioxide in a semi-liquid and semi-gas state for essential oil production. Compared to the more traditional cold distillation process, CO2 extraction allows plant active ingredients to be gathered more quickly without solvent residues, ensuring they are better preserved and more effective”.
In February, Absolue debuted the Mixology concept. “It’s unique to the franchise and allows customers to experience the personalisation that is so in demand today, says Nicol. “For example, they can add one of our oils to a mask for extra nourishment or dilute a cream to a more gel-like consistency with the Absolue Precious Cells Rose Lotion. New and existing customers can mix and match products to suit their personal preferences and skincare needs. Mixology also allows them to experience new textures”.
In March, Lancôme launched Absolue Precious Cells Rose Drop Night Peeling Concentrate, an overnight peel to boost radiance and glow. “A definitive three-in-one product, the results are amazing”, says Nicol.
“The rose phase makes up 70 per cent of the product and glycolic acid helps to penetrate the first layers of the skin. The gold phase - or miracle oil - comprises 30 per cent of the formula and features argan and rose oils to regenerate the skin and fast-track radiance. The signature fragrances - Jardin des Thes - produces a soothing scent that calms the senses before sleep”.
Consumer interaction with Absolue is all about education, not just selling, says Nicol. “Customers can even ask for a shoulder massage after their consultation. After pre-booking and enjoying the Absolue Treatment facial, clients are given a gift bag. Absolue products also come in their own branded bags and are wrapped in black tissue paper. Attention to detail that makes clients feel they are part of a special club through close cooperation with their preferred brand and a feedback culture on both sides”.
Wherever they shop, customers can be assured of a uniform prestige experience through the Absolue Art of Service, says Emma Stafford, National Events Manager for Lancôme. “My job is to ensure that customers receive the same streamlined and exceptional standard wherever they book their Absolue Treatment facial
We are training more beauty advisors nationwide so we can offer more facials, adds Stafford. “There’s no booking fee and we target prized customers and keep connected to new and existing clients through special Absolue events. Lancôme has set a new benchmark for premium skincare in Australia with the Art of Service concept and every customer is made to feel like a VIP”.
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