Kiehl’s, a luxury hair care and skin products brand that’s part of L’Oreal’s products division, launched its Britomart store in 2013.
In similar circumstances to Topshop, the brand had already launched in Smith & Caughey’s department store in 2010.
In order to relaunch the brand to the New Zealand public successfully, a buzz needed to be created around the flagship store’s opening.
The launch featured staff in lab coats serving Kiehl’s-inspired cocktails and New York-inspired canapés, as well as a pack of Harley Davidsons roaring outside the venue as a tribute to the founder’s love of the bikes.
The event had a 95 percent turn out in celebrities and media, and gave Kiehl’s a 16:1 return on investment with Pead’s PR programme.
We spoke with von Sierakowski about how Kiehl’s achieved its successful shop launch.
What was the aim of the Kiehl’s campaign?
The aim of the activity around the opening of the Kiehl’s Flagship Boutique in Britomart was to let the Britomart community and the wider community know that this much-loved brand had arrived in the precinct.
How did you generate a buzz around Kiehl’s launch when it launched at Britomart?
There is nothing like six Harley Davidsons driving en masse around Auckland’s waterfront and Britomart with large Kiehl’s flags off the back of their bikes. Harleys have been part of the Kiehl’s heritage as they were a favourite of the Kiehl’s founding family, who owned a collection and housed them in the original New York City East Village Store. We also worked with media, our ‘Friends of Kiehl’s,’ Britomart’s website and social media, and had an opening party in-store.
Was it difficult to relaunch Kiehl’s after it already had launched in Smith & Caughey’s? What were the challenges with that?
Kiehl’s is a brand that is very much focused on the local community that it serves, thus, when opening a new store, it is about celebrating with the new local community. It actually worked well for us already having another store as people were becoming more familiar with Kiehl’s and now just had a store closer to them to make it easier to continue to discover the brand. Part of the strategy of opening the Britomart boutique was to build more awareness of Kiehl’s, so we knew we had the opportunity to introduce Kiehl’s to more people and thus benefit all stores.
What kinds of ways did you promote the store’s opening if you couldn’t advertise it?
Kiehl’s doesn’t advertise and it never has in its 164 year history. This is something that we are proud of as it reinforces brand values around word-of-mouth and community advocacy. With Kiehl’s there are many other opportunities to generate buzz through in store events, digital, and community exposure.
How did you get it to spread through word of mouth?
We drew on our rich brand heritage to create a series of ‘moments’ where our community could be connected to the brand in ways that, hopefully, resonated with them.
Was social media as big a deal back then when it launched? Did you use that in any way to hype it?
We launched our Kiehl’s NZ Facebook page to coincide with the opening of the Britomart boutique. The use of social media platforms to create buzz is a lot more relevant now.
Were there any giveaways?
A core brand value of Kiehl’s is generosity. We have a ‘try before you buy’ philosophy where everyone through our doors is offered a consultation and samples to take away.
How successful was the launch?
Very, we were very pleased with the opening of our Britomart Flagship Boutique.
What are some of the ways retailers can get shoppers excited about a store’s launch? What ways could they generate a buzz around it?
I would suggest looking at the brand’s DNA as find ways to bring the brand to life, create retail excitement and inspire people in ways that are in line with the brand’s core values.