What started as a French beauty brand L’Occitane in 1976 carrying its first essential oil has grown to 2000 shops worldwide, including more than 400 stores here in Asia alone. Last October 3, Mr. André Hoffman, L’Occitane’s Asia Pacific President and the man behind the label's success in the Asia-Pacific, visited the opening of their latest (and biggest!) local boutique in Newport Mall, Resorts World.
When asked about the difference of the market from when they first came here 14 years ago, Mr. Hoffmann showed delight with his response: “I think the retail venues are a lot nicer. (There is) a big upgrade in volume distribution. The market is more sophisticated. The Philippine economy is growing; it has a big promise. We launch a new product every year."
Almost all brands are leaning toward the all natural trend, and since L’Occitane started, it has taken the “natural” route. It takes pride in ethical practices, fair trade ingredients, and in being Eco-certified. “We are a very authentic, ethical company," André says. "Research has proven that people want to support a company that's socially responsible. One would go to a company that gives money to charities, emancipates women, helps cure blindness, and preserve nature. I would want to support a company doing good,” he shares.
He also expounds on their charitable efforts. "We’ve done some charitable work with Rustan’s, our local partner, but it’s something we can put a lot more effort in. We work with ORBIS, a global organization that has a hospital within an airplane to help operate and help visually-impaired or blind people recover their sight. This is something we’ve done in China recently, but I think there are a lot of opportunities here."
The Provençal Experience
André quotes L'Occitane founder Olivier Baussan's explanation on the brand's name equity. "I wanted to help people to discover Provence through L'Occitane." He adds, "and we work in our name. We tell where we come from." L'Occitane takes pride in their origin of Provence, a quality observed throughout their store visuals, which has Provençal photographs—seemingly like paintings—hanging on their walls.