Brazilian-inspired Sol de Janeiro has been one of the fastest-growing skincare brands in North America for L’Occitane Group, and it is now making its way into the travel retail channel for the first time.
The beauty company claims that the brand—best known for the bestselling cult hero product Brazilian Bum Bum Cream—has “delivered a stellar performance across body care, fragrance and hair care products.” One product is sold every 14 seconds globally, and L’Occitane will be hoping that the airport channel will build positively on that statistic.
After L’Occitane en Provence, Sol de Janeiro has already become L’Occitane Group’s second-biggest brand by revenue with €267 million, overtaking Elemis in FY2023 (ending March 31). The group only took a majority stake in the company at the end of 2021. In Q4 the brand grew by an astonishing 268%, helping the group deliver revenue of over €2 billion for the year (€2.135 billion) and sending the share price soaring.
In April, L’Occitane debuted the Sol de Janeiro collection—whose slogan is “Love it. Flaunt it. You’ve got it.”—in the duty-free channel and chose to partner with travel retailer Dufry for a pre-launch. Through the deal, Dufry has a two-month exclusive tie-up at its airport, cruise, and ferry locations.
The campaign started at Spanish airports and the UK’s two biggest air gateways of London Heathrow and Gatwick, and will roll out at London Stansted and Manchester airports in May. The UK and Spain are two of Dufry’s strongest airport markets. Thereafter, the distribution will continue into other parts of Europe, followed by the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Mexico.
Mona L’Hostis, Head of Global Travel Retail Marketing at L’Occitane Group, said, “This best-selling brand has already garnered an obsessed and loyal multigenerational global following, especially among Gen Z shoppers. We cannot wait to unveil its full potential to travelers at airports worldwide.”
For its part, Dufry has listed Sol de Janeiro because it fits with Dufry’s strategy to bring in up-and-coming beauty brands likely to appeal to customer profiles such as millennials and Gen Z. This is vital as the travel retailer rebuilds sales after huge COVID downsides, and attempts to reduce its debt load now that traffic is rebuilding nicely across airports. As the leader in the channel, the company will also want to take more share from rivals, and the beauty category is the place where that fight is most likely to be had.
A Double Benefit
The debut in the travel channel could mark an inflection point for Sol de Janeiro, whose key ingredient, guaraná from the Amazon, is another sales driver that young people know from energy drinks. The brand will get exposure to passengers from all over the world and will benefit from an existing substantial investment in social media and offline marketing campaigns to build brand awareness by highlighting, for example, local activations.
Added to that is the London airports campaign, which kicked off at Gatwick’s south terminal and was supported by Dufry’s new Emotion+ ad opportunity for brand owners. This has used online and offline channels to expand Sol de Janeiro’s visibility and showcase exclusive products. The 360° campaign has also allowed the brand to expand touchpoints and be promoted on more than 300 screens across various UK airports.
Initial travel retail campaign data have shown good results, with millennial and Gen Z audiences driving sales via impulse purchases, and capturing their experiences via social media channels. Delphine Poultney, Head of Beauty in the UK for Dufry, said, “We are seeing an extremely positive customer response.”
L’Occitane’s Antoine Lafourcade, General Manager for Travel Retail in EMEA and the Americas, added, “Working with Dufry has offered Sol de Janeiro a tremendous travel retail launchpad in the UK, Europe, and Americas. The brand is off to a flying start, wildly exceeding expectations as it reaches new consumer profiles: the young, tech-savvy, millennials and Gen Zs that our travel retail partners are eager to attract. With summer on the way, we anticipate even stronger performance as the brand rolls out further.”
After Dufry’s two-month stint, Sol de Janeiro will be rolled out globally with other major duty-free partners of L’Occitane starting in June. The beauty company’s travel retail division is listed with 34 operators in 270 airports, taking its presence to 900 duty-free doors in more than 90 countries worldwide. Its brands, which include Elemis, are also onboard 42 airlines.
Sol de Janeiro was founded in 2015 by Heela Yang, a Yale and Harvard Business School graduate with a successful track record in the cosmetics industry. After relocating from the US to Brazil, the entrepreneur launched Sol de Janeiro.
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