Ange Gardien Paris launched in Singapore last December. Unfortunately for the brand, the outbreak hit just when it launched its department store counters in three locations in the city.
This prompted the company to accelerate its digital plans and launch its e-commerce website in April.
“In the beginning, we were focused on [brick-and-mortar] retail. Our plan was to launch our e-commerce channel by the end of 2020, but we pushed everything and made sure we had everything done by April,” said Claudia See, brand director of Ange Gardien Paris.
In addition, the company is actively working to step-up its business on a separate e-commerce platform.
See told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the company’s lean organisation structure was instrumental in its ability to adapt to this crisis.
“We have a purposefully lean organisation structure. It allows things to move quickly and decisions to be made fast so we can react as fast as we can. It’s especially important in the cosmetics industry because of how quickly it can move.”
See noted that in this hostile retail environment, it was important for the company to adapt by producing more relevant products for the time.
As such, the firm launched seven scented hand sanitiser that corresponded to its existing fragrances to cater to the needs of this period.
“When China was hit, the idea of hand sanitisers came into the picture very quickly for obvious reasons. As we have fragrances, it was the most reactive thing to do that would suit the environment.”
The scented hand sanitisers now retail in a set with matching hand cream for S$19.90 and in a set of five for S$29.90.
See explained that the hand sanitisers were packaged with hand cream to provide consumers with both protection and comfort, as the sanitisers come with high alcohol content.
“When we were developing the product, we wanted to make sure it works. We saw many scented hand sanitisers on the market that contained less than 70% of alcohol. Our product contains 75% alcohol, because any more won’t do the skin any good. So, we capped it at 75% and added aloe vera to soothe the hands as well.”
A sunny outlook
See is optimistic about the prospects of the beauty market despite the challenges the company has faced.
“While the market is going to take a while to recover and pick up where it left off pre-COVID-19, I believe growth will be significant. For example, if the pandemic were to be over by Q4, we will see higher growth compared to the previous year.”
She believes the growth will be driven by ‘natural’ human behaviour to return to the status quo.
“The moment people are freed from lockdown, they will rush to get back their normal lives as much as possible. We’ve seen that in China already; the cosmetics business there has shot up significantly in terms of growth and it was further stimulated by all the sales and promotions by brands.”
She added that she believes the cosmetics industry remains, to a certain extent, immune to a situation like recessions. “It’s just a matter of whether women buy five versus 10 lipsticks.”
In the meantime, the company has formulated a strategic omnichannel plan to combat the impact of the crisis.
See declined to go into details but noted that the brand may offer different sets of products for both online and offline channels.
For instance, the brand may offer its luxury goods offline and more ‘relevant’ products like hand sanitisers offline.
“You’re targeting a different kind of consumers when you are online versus offline,” added See.
However, she noted that the brand was not abandoning its plans to prioritise physical retail once the market returns to normal.
“I don’t believe online will take over retail. Personally, I feel retail is a more sustainable way to go. We should be offering consumers the choice to decide how they want to shop.”