American Marketer

Events / Causes

La Prairie exec says luxury is the pinnacle of getting it right

January 16, 2014


NEW YORK - A senior executive at Swiss skincare marketer La Prairie at Luxury FirstLook: Strategy 2014 explained that the brand has elevated the customer to the center of its recent transformation.

Sharon Osen said that rather than making cosmetic changes, the brand has embarked on a long-term transformation that has resulted in some soul-searching. Additionally, the brand is trying to maintain its "best-kept secret" reputation, while expanding globally.

"I would challenge us to say, how far can we go to deliver the experiences that our customers are craving?"said Sharon Osen, senior vice president of global marketing and brand strategy at La Prarie, New York.

"The unwritten rule is that we’re in a business to inspire desire," she said. "[Consumers] can’t dream up these new needs. It's up to us--How are we going to tell our story differently?

"This notion of exclusivity continues to evolve as our own behavior evolves."

Luxury Daily organized Luxury FirstLook Strategy 2014.

Identifying a game plan

Ms. Osen outlined the brand's journey to becoming customer-centric. To even begin the transformation process, the brand reevaluated its origin and identified core consumer behavior.

The La Prairie consumer is devoted to the best of luxury, is not looking for a deal and understands that proper beauty care involves a strict regimen, according to Ms. Osen.

La Prairie recognized that it had to lift the consumer's presence to a higher position in the brand. Since the retail experience is still the experiential heart of any skincare company, La Prairie tries to ensure that its skincare consultants are highly informed.

La Prairie's The White Caviar collection

A knowledgeable sales staff can identify skin problems, promote the right product, predict consumer wants and, ultimately, forge a genuine relationship.

Ms. Osen compared the beauty consultant to an expert guide at a museum. With a guide to illuminate the many works by various artists, a museum-goer will have a more profound experience. Similarly, a consumer paired with a consultant will leave more fulfilled than if she had shopped alone.

Also, the brand has redesigned its store and boutique layouts to better reflect its sensibilities.

The right traits
A guest in the audience asked how the La Prairie journey to renewal is different from the journeys embarked upon by other brands, since they all seem to emphasize the same traits.

Ms. Osen responded that La Prairie's journey is necessarily distinct. After all, the brand rose to a high-tier status on different terms and it is being spearheaded by executives with unique perspectives.

La Prairie collection themes

Although the overarching terms of exclusivity, craftsmanship and heritage are shared by the vast majority of luxury brands, these terms unfurl into different directions upon scrutiny.

Ms. Olsen shared a few brands videos to capture the spirit of its evolution. The short films can be viewed here.

"We're at this luxury pinnacle of getting everything right," Ms. Olsen said. "The idea is that its up to us to raise this bar for ourselves.

"We're reflecting on what we’ve done well in the past and embellishing on that," she said.

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