A retail experience that’s more than skin deep
Dermalogica is a skincare brand developed by therapists, with a strong emphasis on expert knowledge, personalised advice and innovative products. They launched in the UK in 1986 where they now have many outlets including four flagship stores in London.
We were commissioned to take an objective look at some of the flagship stores and concessions to make recommendations on how best to improve brand engagement and sales.
“The stores looked great, but there hadn’t been enough thought put into the reasons why people were shopping and what customers needed. There was an opportunity to really consider the shopper to improve the shopper experience.”
Dermalogica had approached in-store communications, product launches, store layout and shopper experience in the same way, across all locations for several years.
“When you’re really immersed in your brand it’s easy to have a biased view of what the customer needs. We wanted this exercise to be done externally to see if our views were correct – we wanted a fresh pair of eyes.”
Our expert retail consultancy team went into the business and spent time gathering information and insights from staff and customers. We interviewed all the senior staff, who were very open and knowledgable about products, the brand and its long heritage. We learnt about the history of the brand, started in the US over 40 years ago by Jane Wurwand who put skincare therapists at the heart of the business. The ‘Dermalogica Tribe’ as she called them put knowledge and education at the centre of the brand.
After talking to staff, visiting stores and concessions, observing shoppers and having informal discussions with customers we came to realise that the expertise, knowledge and passion of the Dermalogica Tribe is as important today as 40 years ago. It is the real point of difference between Dermalogica and other beauty brands. However, the in-store experience, communications and design had strayed from the true essence of the brand.
As products were initially sold through therapists, Dermalogica were used to giving customers personalised guidance and advice on what they should be purchasing. The brand was confident selling through an individual expert but selling products from a shelf in a retail environment – where not every customer would speak to a therapist – was more challenging. With very little in-store communication or branding, how would a customer know which products to use? How would they connect with the brand? How would they recognise Dermalogica in a space surrounded by other beauty brands?
Our retail consultant believed that the in-store experience had become too generic – if you stripped away the logo you could be in any beauty space. We believed the key to improving the stores, concessions and sales was to get the Dermalogica retail space to work harder to reinforce the knowledge and experience of the therapists and the amount of research and expertise that went into developing the products.
“We recognised that if we created an experience around the expertise of the therapists, the products would sell themselves.”
With a strong belief that Dermalogica needed to reassert itself as an expert-driven beauty brand we researched which customer profiles would be most attracted to the Dermalogica brand. We identified two key customers profiles - the ‘in-depth researcher’ and the ‘problem-solver’.
We considered what would make these customers stop and focus? What would educate them about the brand and give them information about treatments and consultations?
A timeline charting real women’s life stages and the product ranges that have helped them.
Communication imagery focused on real faces not the products themselves.
Image-led campaigns for different times of the year, tailored for different outlets.
Imagery and language that communicates experiences around the expertise of the therapists.
Different store layouts to acknowledge that customer needs vary across stores and concessions.
Highlighting the points in each store and concession where we can disrupt shopper journeys.
“If passing shoppers could see the difference Dermalogica products make to people’s problem skin it would really help … the before and after, you know that’s pretty compelling.”
Dermalogica took our recommendations and tested them by exposing a sample of customers to two stores that had been set up differently. One store had made many of our suggested changes and the other had not. Dermalogica then tested which group of customers had a deeper customer experience, questioning them after their visit. This clarified that the suggested changes helped customers to have a more positive shopper experience.
“We were really pleased with the process, it was a great exercise for us. It gave us confidence that we are heading in the right direction.
We’re now clear what ‘good’ looks like. We’ve a best practice guide, so that whenever we build a new store we can apply the same principles.”
Following this piece of retail strategy we continue to work with Dermalogica on other projects, including a recent trade show exhibition. We’ve gathered in-depth knowledge of Dermalogica and their customers and we hope to be designing thoughtful retail solutions for them for years to come.
“The reason that we continue to work with Impact Retail is because we feel that they really understand our customers and the relevance of the customer journey. This means designs are both aesthetically pleasing and strategically relevant”