American Marketer


LVMH consolidates beauty research to raise authenticity, spark innovation

November 19, 2013


LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is looking to become the foremost innovator in the luxury beauty and cosmetics markets with insights supplied by a new research and development center called Hélios.

Hélios is dedicated to research, development and creation of expertise, bringing together 250 experts from places such as the beauty and cosmetics wings of brands including Christian Dior and Givenchy. The center will delve into more than 20 fields of research and generate new patents and processes that may shake up the beauty and cosmetics industries.

"This is a very interesting alliance between beauty and science," said Marie Driscoll, CEO and chief consultant at Driscoll Advisors, New York. "It is important because it will provide authenticity with new product launches, versus just slapping a label on a fragrance, skincare or beauty product, something LVMH doesn't do.

"As a leading luxury goods brand house, LVMH follows luxury brand strategy of controlling all points of products, from inception and creation, to manufacturing, distribution and retail," she said.

Ms. Driscoll is not affiliated with LVMH, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

LVMH was unable to comment directly.

Ideas breeding ideas

Hélios' construction began in the early 2000s when LVMH determined that its many brands would benefit from interactive research. Rather than having isolated research centers working in the shadows, the new center presents an occasion for ideas to circulate and flourish at a faster clip.

Givenchy’s Teint Couture

Six buildings with three levels form a triangle around a central atrium, a design that reflects "the process of innovation and product creation" that the center aims to foster. Architectural firm Arte Charpentier conceived the design concept.

Environmentally sound materials said to meet high environmental quality standards were used to build the center.

The research at the lab will fan out across fields such as molecular and cell biology, physical chemistry, ethnobotany, sensory analysis, formulation, toxicology and histology, according to LVMH.

In addition to its personal agenda to polish the conglomerate's beauty portfolio, the center will assist startups and private companies and has linked up with the University of Orléans to share its scientific equipment and expertise.

One Essential skin care line

Already innovating

Several of LVMH's brand are already innovators in the beauty and cosmetics arena.

For instance, French label Christian Dior generated interest in its One Essential skin care line through its Beauty Chronicles campaign that highlighted the product line's Nobel Prize winning ingredient.

Dior's multi-faceted approach paired a series of social videos along with content explaining the harmful effects the environment and stress has on skin to promote the benefits of its One Essential products. By creating layered content that allows the consumer to fully explore a product, Dior likely observed an increased interest in the skincare line (see story).

Also, French fashion label Givenchy debuted the latest addition to its beauty collection through a social video that displays the before and after-effects achievable with the product.

Givenchy’s Teint Couture line boasts all-day staying power and a lightweight formula. The product likely appeals to affluent women who may not have the time to reapply their cosmetics throughout the day (see story).

However, the onset of a formidable research center may entail a string of regulatory inquiries, which may slow LVMH down.

"This move suggests that beauty, skincare and fragrance product development will increasingly speak to wellness, which could have complications with the FDA," Ms. Driscoll said.

Final take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York