Luxury and Amazon have been mutually exclusive concepts, until now—maybe. Amazon’s latest attempt to onboard high-end fashion and beauty brands to its platform is Luxury Stores. Available on Amazon’s mobile app, the launch rolled out by invitation to eligible Prime members in the US in mid-September with Oscar de la Renta as the first official partner.
“Luxury Stores serves as an inspiring, cohesive experience, where customers can shop both luxury fashion and beauty brands all in one place,” said Kaila Lightner, Head of Luxury Stores at Amazon. “Beauty continues to be an important category for our customers, and we’re delighted to expand our assortment with the launch of RéVive and its revolutionary skincare for women and men. We look forward to welcoming even more brands who wish to tap into Amazon’s innovative, content-driven tools to reach and engage more customers.”
Luxury Stores allows brands to create what Amazon is calling a “store within a store” experience. The concessions-based platform provides brands more power and freedom than traditional department-store or luxury e-commerce relationships—allowing brands the freedom to make decisions on assortment, pricing, what they will highlight to customers when, and the service they’ll offer all while leveraging Amazon’s enormous reach to acquire new customers. Amazon supports brands with merchandising tools to create and personalize content in their voice and the option to display products in interactive 360-degree detail on different body types and skin tones.
Amazon’s first attempt to court high-end beauty brands came in 2013 when it launched its Luxury Beauty Store, which has quietly been renamed Premium Beauty, with 24 brands. In 2018 it launched an Indie Beauty Shop, giving hot niche brands not sold at Ulta and Sephora a way to expand their reach. Beauty and personal care has grown to be the second most-shopped category on Amazon in 2019. While the rest of the beauty industry has shaken the aversion to Amazon, luxury brands have remained hesitant, turned off by counterfeiters on the marketplace and the lack of control.
The talking points from Amazon remain the same as they did in 2013: “We have heard very clearly from our customers that they are looking for luxury brands,” and they recognize the need to refine how they work on the brand side. So what’s different this time? The stigma of Amazon has largely fallen away as premium beauty brands have unlocked the power of brand protection on the marketplace as a tool to maintain pricing and experience, and driving revenue to the bottom line for both the brand and its retail partners. This second attempt at luxury also happens with the backdrop of the pandemic’s impact on footfall in brick-and-mortar stores that traditionally have sustained luxury brands.
Will luxury beauty brands be willing to make the jump? It’s hard to ignore Amazon’s 300 million monthly users and the fact that 49% of the people in the US are Amazon Prime members. RéVive Skincare, the second beauty brand to be listed on the new platform, certainly sees the opportunity in courting Amazon’s 150 million paid Prime members around the world.
“Amazon’s new shopping experience to introduce luxury skincare to consumers perfectly aligns with our strategy to drive overall brand awareness, provide the highest level of customer experience, and expand our digital footprint with a limited number of partners who understand the quality of service that our customer expects,” explains Elana Drell Szyfer, CEO of RéVive Skincare.
Since its reacquisition by founder Dr. Gregory Bays Brown and Tengram Capital in December 2017, the brand has been experiencing exponential growth in new product development, international market expansion, and increased e-commerce penetration. RéVive Skincare has merged biotechnology with beauty for 23 years with products formulated with cutting-edge Bio-Renewal Technology. The brand has historically dominated luxury retailers including Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Harrods.
While the brand says those doors remain strong, the leadership team is cognizant of the ever-changing beauty landscape and the importance of brand evolution executing against a strategy of launching new online RéVive luxury flagship locations. Speaking about the pivotal relationship with Amazon, Szyfer shared, “We have seen great success on multi-experience channels like TMall in China and have applied that same strategy to Luxury Stores by Amazon.”
Key to any online strategy is the content to support education and create an experience. The investment in expanding its asset portfolio, with over 150 video and texture assets in 2020, positioned RéVive to be able to swiftly and selectively expand its e-commerce presence, including on Luxury Stores by Amazon. The assets are available globally in mobile- and social-friendly sizing for usage in-store, online, and through their sales team on all channels like WeChat, text, and email.
“On Luxury Stores specifically, we were able to fully customize the site and curate our products into easy to navigate categories that will help with discoverability for new clients,” Szyfer continued. “Our brand is focusing on the acquisition of new customers with the support of a robust marketing plan that involves influencer content, on-site traffic drivers, and placements as well as additional off-site traffic drivers.”
It’s not a matter of if luxury consumers will shop on Amazon, the question is will luxury brands finally meet them there. According to a 2017 survey conducted earlier this year by investment bank Piper Jaffray, 82% of households that made more than $112,000 per year have an Amazon Prime membership.
“We are channel-agnostic and want our clients and potential clients to purchase RéVive wherever he or she desires. Over 90% of our reviveskincare.com customers shop our brand from multiple retailers and we encourage that as omni-channel shoppers have been shown to spend more than single-channel shoppers,” Szyfer said. “Our launch in Luxury Stores at Amazon is another step towards widening distribution with a limited number of partners who can fulfill RéVive’s priorities on a high level of customer experience and service.”
Consumers have continued to increase their spend through online channels both for the replenishment of their current brands, as well as for the discovery of new brands. Szyfer concluded, “Launching with Luxury Stores will allow customers to have access to RéVive, perhaps for the first time, driving overall brand awareness and trial. The uniqueness of the customer experience that Amazon offers is aligned with RéVive’s service oriented customer philosophy.”
During a year that has seen many shifts in the consumer landscape, RéVive Skincare’s new 2020 forecast sees the brand doubling its original profit projection for the year.