Dr. Barbara Sturm, the aesthetic doctor-founded, skin-care brand, is opening its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City on May 16. The brand hopes its new physical outpost, which is its first outside of its clinic in Dusseldorf, Germany, will give it exposure to a much larger audience.
Dr. Barbara Sturm is currently sold online through its e-commerce site, Molecular-Cosmetics.com, as well as via Net-a-Porter, Goop and Revolve. It is also stocked at 30 retailers, including Bluemercury, Violet Grey and Neiman Marcus. The new standalone store follows the brand’s six-month NYC pop-up spa that ran from November 2018 to April.
The 7-year-old brand earned $15 million in sales in 2018, and sales have grown 300% year over year since 2016, according to founder Dr. Barbara Sturm. The U.S. represents approximately 50% of all brand sales. That trajectory is expected to continue for 2019. Dr. Barbara Sturm debuted a children’s line, Baby & Kids Mini Molecular collection, in April 2018, and an acne product line in April 2019.
“Charging into retail at a moment when many businesses are fleeing physical space for online was a conscious decision,” said Sturm. “[It is] driven by my desire to give customers and clients a place beyond an e-commerce experience, or an experience as a patient in my German clinic.”
As a brand that’s relatively new to the United States, education is not only important in order to explain one’s value proposition, but also raise awareness. Other foreign brands, even those that have been around for decades. Natura (Brazil’s largest skin-care brand, founded in 1969) and 15-year-old K-beauty brand Innisfree both opened brick-and-mortar locations in NYC in 2017. Meanwhile, British-based Charlotte Tilbury is set to open a store in Los Angeles in the third quarter of 2019. Sturm also plans to open a store location in LA or London, although she said she has not finalized plans.
“Everything is about how you get people to try before you buy, and that can only happen in a store,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor, a New York-based consultancy. “Until you see someone walk up to a display and walk away, you don’t know why they didn’t.”
Within the 1,300-square-foot boutique, there are three main opportunities for the brand to educate customers. There is a “Discovery Table” in the middle of the store, where customers can test out products, and also a lower table for the brand’s kid’s products, so children can participate. All 58 of the brand’s products will be for sale, and a new travel kit will be added to the mix at its launch, on June 13.
In the future, the store will also be transformed into an event space for Sturm to present master classes, informational seminars or dinner parties. Sturm declined to state how often events will be held (she often visits five different countries in a month), but she did say that she is traveling to NYC “more frequently” and will host an event each time she is there. Additionally, the store will run videos showing people with different skin types demonstrating how to apply products.
In-store events have become an increasingly popular retail tool for brands like The Detox Market, CoverGirl and blowout bar Glam +Go. For Dr. Barbara Sturm, the brand plans on announcing them via social media and Dr. Sturm’s content website, Dr-Barbara-Sturm.com.
“We are seeing everyone try to figure out what’s going to resonate with a jaded customer, and they are more or less aligned with the boutique concept Sturm is employing,” said Phibbs.