After a steady tease of its global rebrand, beauty and cosmetics brand Laura Mercier relaunches its e-commerce channel this week.
The company, which revealed a new minimal logo with the addition of Paris and New York under its brand name in August, has been slowly rolling out new store formats: In Sephora, Laura Mercier debuted massive, three-bay gondolas in all 390 of its U.S. doors, and as of Nov. 18, the brand will reveal a new beauty-counter experience at Bloomingdale’s New York flagship — but the most significant investment for the beauty brand has been on its website.
Currently, LauraMercier.com represents less than 5 percent of company sales, according to Laura Mercier global gm Alexandra Papazian. However, in July, the brand saw a 55 percent increase in retail sales year-to-date, so Papazian expects the re-stage to further draw customers to its own channel. By incorporating how-to video tutorials, a ratings and review section, user generated content, new tech capabilities and influencer marketing into the new site, the brand expects to double the size of direct sales in the next three years versus relying so heavily on third-party partners.
It’s an attempt for Laura Mercier, which is highly penetrated in the U.S. and U.K., to have a worldwide presence, she said: “We have very serious global ambitions, so these are all the steps to get there.” Twenty-two-year-old Laura Mercier was bought by Shiseido Group in 2016 for $260 million — the parent company even called out the brand for its continued growth in the Americas in its first-half fiscal year report in June. Industry sources predict the company’s global rebrand efforts will bring in up to $400 million in retail.
Shisiedo Group has been retooling many of its beauty brands this year: Shiseido, the namesake cosmetics company, relaunched color with a heavy influencer strategy in August. BareMinerals rebooted its clean message story this summer with the help of celebrities like Letitia Wright, Hailey Baldwin and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley — this was after the brand was on track to close 100 of its stores this year. And Nars re-entered the mascara category with its House of Climax launch and pop-up. Like Laura Mercier, BareMinerals and Nars are beauty businesses that are just over 20 years old.
The new site definitely has a more millennial-minded bent, which was key for recruitment of new customers, said Papazian. How-to video tutorials done by celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, best known as Kim Kardashian’s personal artist and collaborator are featured prominently. (Dedivanovic was tapped by Laura Mercier as a brand ambassador in May 2017.) Additionally, a dedicated “Recommended By” section highlights customer ratings and reviews, and a live Instagram feed features user-generated content.
From the tech perspective, the new LauraMercier.com also includes a live-chat functionality with makeup artists, which is key for the brand as it looks to offer a personalized experience to customers. “You can send in a photo and get curated advice from an artist based on the kind of look you want,” said Papazian. “For us, it’s all a part of messaging an ease and effortlessness from both the makeup and the brand experience.” Text messaging capabilities with iOS devices around artistry and order-related questions, as well as a foundation shade tool matcher, are coming later this fall.
Papazian would not comment on the specific dollar amount for the digital piece of the rebrand but did say that its media investment is 100 percent digital, and that is up year-to-date by over 20 percent. Laura Mercier is also, of course, playing with an earned influencer strategy with existing brand fans like Desi Perkins, Melissa Alatorre, Shayla Mitchell and Eman Raouf. “Working with influencers these last several months has really allowed our brand to get behind education and accessibility in a way we hadn’t done before,” she said. Content created by these beauty influencers will also funnel up to the user-generated content featured on the website’s Instagram feed.
Laura Mercier expects this digital- and influencer-centric marketing strategy to double traffic to its website within the year. Papazian stressed it isn’t just concerned with conversion but also brand awareness. “We are step-changing our awareness, social and video marketing strategy to capture and re-capture consumers who have an affinity to the brand,” she said.