On January 20, French perfume and cosmetics house Guerlain hosted “The Prodigious Aura of Youth” event in Sanya’s Haitang Bay to launch its Orchidée Impériale Gold Nobile collection. The occasion also marked the grand opening of its new “Ultimate Boutique” at the world’s hottest travel retail destination, cdf Sanya Duty Free Block C.
A beauty innovator for nearly 200 years, Guerlain unveils a new collection infused with Gold Nobile extract, delivering an amplified rejuvenation effect that enhances the skin’s visible signs of youth and light.
Meanwhile, the brand’s Block C boutique represents a leap in travel retail, brimming with customized premium offerings tailored to affluent Chinese island hoppers.
Yang Yang, the global brand ambassador of Guerlain, and Emma Behaeghel, Guerlain Asia Pacific Director Local Market and Travel Retail, were among the first to tour the boutique, conceptualized as a “boundless sphere of luxury” where guests can experience localized activations.
Jing Daily sat down with Guerlain’s Behaeghel to learn more about the Ultimate Boutique at Haitang Bay and how it aligns with the Maison’s travel retail growth strategies.
Jing Daily (JD): China Duty Free Group’s Block C opened in December. Tell us about Guerlain’s Ultimate Boutique and why it was important for the brand to be in Block C.
Emma Behaeghel: This shopping complex is the world’s most anticipated new travel retail destination, where all brands showcase their latest store designs, product innovations, and best consumer experiences. For Guerlain to open its Ultimate Boutique with CDFG Block C is a strong statement that clients will be able to have a holistic and immersive experience of what Guerlain is about.
JD: What can Chinese consumers look forward to in Sanya?
EB: As a house of high perfumery and high cosmetics, every Guerlain Ultimate Boutique is like a temple of art, elevating its bespoke experiences and premium offerings. Our Chinese clients can look forward to a magical experience with exceptional pieces, premium collections, and exquisite spa experiences in our facialist suites.
JD: Guerlain has doubled down on travel retail in Asia-Pacific through duty-free boutique openings in Haikou (2022) and Sanya (late 2023), along with a L’Art & La Matière pop-up at Singapore’s Changi Airport last April. What percentage of your global travel retail market is driven by Chinese consumers?
EB: Travel retail is a very significant part of our business in Asia-Pacific, and Chinese consumers are at the heart of it. Yet, the brand elevation done in the China market is of utmost importance to create desire in the travel retail channel. We can amplify it in Hainan and across other destinations in the region, but it will be the natural consequence of a strong appetite for Guerlain within the China market.
JD: How does Guerlain integrate its localization strategy in China with travel retail?
EB: Integrating localization strategy in travel retail is definitely a key to success in the China market, which includes understanding our customer profiles in the local market, the top products, how these products are addressed locally, and translating these into our assortment curation, collaterals, traditional and digital communication, and our ambassadors’ training.
JD: Have you made any changes to your strategy in Sanya based on your experience in Haikou?
EB: We adapted some of our spa techniques to better cater to the needs of Chinese consumers in Haikou. These avenues to success will continue in Sanya.
JD: China’s travel industry is expected to see continued recovery and growth in 2024. How did Guerlain perform in China in 2023, and what are your forecasts for the coming year?
EB: Despite the economic situation in China in 2023, Guerlain fared extremely well. We expect 2024 to be even stronger as we start the year with a new premium launch — Orchidée Impériale Gold Nobile — and will continue the momentum with more innovations, immersive trade experiences, and artist collaborations.
JD: China is expected to become the world’s largest luxury market next year. Where does the house have room to grow in China, and what’s your vision for this market by 2025?
EB: We need to keep learning and ensure that our product, marketing, and communication strategies are always relevant. For 2025, our ambition for travel retail in Asia Pacific is to ensure proper brand expression with renovated stores across all key destinations so Chinese clients can find the most elevated and complete Guerlain expression regardless of where they go.
JD: What unique characteristics differentiate the brand’s Chinese customers from those in other markets?
EB: Chinese consumers are extremely affluent and tuned in to the latest social trends. Everything goes very fast, and they are very sophisticated in their understanding of beauty.
JD: Younger Chinese generations are increasingly participating in luxury consumption. What is your strategy for engaging with Gen Z shoppers?
EB: The consumption behavior of Gen Z shoppers is extremely dynamic and greatly influenced by digital and social trends. It is important for the brand to always innovate the marketing, digital, and communication strategy to appeal to this group of shoppers, to take to social media whenever necessary to build brand awareness and impart brand messages in their lingo, and to ensure a seamless experience from online to offline.
JD: The Maison presents the Chinese New Year Millésime 2024 by Atelier Truscelli and the Cherry Blossom Millésime 2024 by Philippe Ferrandis in the new Sanya Block C Ultimate Boutique. How do these exceptional pieces reflect Guerlain’s heritage and savoir-faire?
EB: Guerlain has always been a visionary in Parfumerie d’Art. These exceptional pieces showcase the tradition of Guerlain, elevating fragrances to their quintessence and transforming their scent trails into time-defying Guerlain signatures akin to artistic masterpieces designed with celebrated artists around the world.
Presented by Guerlain.