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Prestige Beauty Site Unveiled by Amazon By JENNY B. FINE WITH THE LAUNCH on Thursday of the Luxury Beauty Store, hopes to revolutionize how — and as importantly, where — prestige beauty products are sold. The e-commerce giant has made no secret of its desire to conquer the prestige beauty category, an effort that thus far has been met with skepticism by many brands accustomed to the more rarified — and nondiscounted — confines of traditional distribution channels like department and specialty stores. Amazon hopes that the curated environ of the Luxury Beauty Store, coupled with a more attractive visual presentation and the technological prowess for which it is renowned, will change that perception. It also has committed to selling the products at full price, or not going below the prices charged by brickand-mortar stores. “We have luxury shoppers,” said Chance Wales, Amazon’s director of beauty and health & personal care. “What we have been lacking is luxury brands, and we hope this is the first step to marry our customers’ needs with what brands expect in terms of displaying and selling their luxury [products].” For the launch of Luxury Beauty, Amazon has signed on 24 brands. They include Nars, Stila and Vincent Longo in the makeup arena; skin care from Ahava, StriVectin, Dr. Brandt, Clark’s Botanicals and DDF; Burberry fragrances and Jack Black men’s grooming products, plus L’Occitane and Sabon, the vertical retailers. The shop, which will be featured on the home page of Amazon’s main navigation bar, is a marked departure from the more commoditized areas of the Web site. The pages are cleaner and more visual than a standard Amazon page, and the products — all of which have been photographed in-house — are larger. “We all knew there would be a moment in time when the desire on the part of Amazon to showcase more luxury in beauty, as they are doing in fashion, would be so important, they would be willing to make SEE PAGE 6

Neiman’s Set to Invest $100M in Omnichannel By VICKI M. YOUNG and HOLLY HABER

Next Gen

Kenneth Cole has zeroed in on the slippery existential question of the everyday male’s degree of social evolution as the positioning of his 10th men’s scent, called — what else — Mankind. It also is the first designer scent for his new licensee, Parlux Ltd. For more, see page 9.


NEIMAN MARCUS GROUP LTD. said it will invest $100 million over the next three to five years to expand its omnichannel capabilities. The retailer plans to develop a single merchandising platform across all brands and channels to improve inventory visibility and delivery, according to a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said during fiscal-year 2014 it plans to begin the design and configuration of the new platform, which is being targeted for implementation in fiscal-year 2016. “The lines have completely blurred between brickand-mortar and e-commerce,” said Jim Gold, president of Neiman Marcus Group, speaking at Texas A&M University’s Retailing Summit at the Westin Galleria in Dallas. “The great challenge for retailers today is how to make the experience seamless. “Every aspect of our business is being transformed by technological advancements,” Gold said. “It is critical to the mission of the business. So we are spending a lot of time on technology.” Gold explained that the Direct division and the stores had operated with separate staffs, markdowns and business cadences and the customers said they didn’t care about different divisions, they wanted it to be seamless. So “we’ve had to integrate everything we do and it’s really challenging, the most challenging’s an enormous competitive advantage so we are working diligently to create that experience,” SEE PAGE 12


WWD Friday, october 11, 2013



Amazon’s Bold Beauty Play


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some concessions,” said Wendy liebmann, chief executive officer of WSl Strategic Retail. Customers can shop by three main avenues: by content, brand or category. in all, there are six categories: Skin Care, Makeup, Fragrance, hair Care, Men’s and on trend, which is based on content and trends created by a team of 12 editors. “For the design, we focused on the customer experience,” said Margot Johnson, amazon’s senior marketing manager of beauty. “it has a different look and feel, rich visuals and clear navigation.” the luxury Beauty Store features amazon’s most popular widgets, such as “Customers who viewed this also viewed that,” and a robust review area, but the site also features new functionality, such as “Complete the look” in the makeup pages or “Complete the Regimen” in the skin-care section. For example, if a shopper is buying nail polish, the site will recommend three complementary products chosen by the editorial team, such as a nail fortifier, top coat and base coat. But the biggest lure by far for many brands is the control it gives them on, the world’s largest online retailer, which often resembles a grand bazaar of every conceivable product imaginable. “this site is much more premium,” said Stephane Colleu,

president and chief executive officer of Dr. Brandt Skincare. “a mass brand is not going to be sold within this platform, which is why it’s very attractive.” as to the reaction that Colleu is expecting from his current retail partners, such as Sephora, the executive was realistic. “i’m sure they won’t be thrilled,” he said, “but i didn’t want to miss this opportunity because we know how powerful the amazon

regarding discounting. When asked if products would be discounted, Wales replied, “We reserve the right to set our pricing.” But brands indicate that as long as other authorized retailers are not discounting products, amazon won’t either. in terms of the Marketplace, amazon has also shown itself willing to exert more control over where the brands in the luxury Beauty Store will be available


This site is much more premium. A mass brand is not going to be sold within this platform, which is why it’s very attractive.

— Stephane Colleu, Dr. BranDt SkinCare

platform is today. i am a niche brand, in the sense that my distribution is limited in the u.S., and amazon gives me the visibility and awareness that i don’t have today with my current partners.” Crucially, amazon is also working with brands to control their presence on other areas of the site, particularly regarding pricing and the amazon Marketplace, where products are sold by third-party vendors. the company has reportedly addressed brand’s concerns

The category section on the Luxury Beauty Store homepage.

on the site. “We are working with brands to make sure we’re presenting their products in an optimal environment,” said Wales. that holds immense appeal for companies engaged in the war against diverted products. “as part of being on the site, they will allow the brand to gate out what other retailers can sell our brand,” said Curran Dandurand, chief executive officer and cofounder of Jack Black. “We gave them a list of authorized retailers, and if a reseller is not on the list, amazon takes them off the site.” She added, “allowing us to have better control of the retailers who are selling Jack Black was very appealing. heretofore, it was the Wild Wild West.” “this is a huge upside of us working with them,” agreed elana Drell-Szyfer, ceo of ahava Dead Sea laboratories, where ecommerce constitutes 25 percent of sales. abby Whitmer, ahava’s senior director of global digital marketing, also applauded amazon’s openness to work with brands on content creation. “they have been terrific at helping us determine what content will be attractive to their audience,” she said. “they are looking to get a

Category pages enable customers to shop by brand, product or trend.

higher-spending audience and are catering to those who are already paying for their services like Prime Membership. So the type of content they’re compiling are tips, brand stories and imagery for people to see the product in motion. they’re trying to upgrade the image of the luxury beauty sector to be friendlier for both brands and consumers.” Be that as it may, liebmann says the key to amazon’s success in the sector will be its ability to maintain the exclusivity of the subsite. “amazon is going to have to be really willing to hold the line,” she said. “the moment they start discounting or let the Marketplace come into play, these brands are going to go running for the corners.”

Fred Segal Brings Personalization to Fragrance By Julie NaughtoN FReD Segal is hoping to bring personalization to a whole new level with the Blend, a do-ityourself fragrance kit, which will be launched in November. the kit was inspired by the Santa Monica, Calif., retailer’s popular bespoke scent bar, launched in 1984, where customers can whip up their own creations by applying layers of scent on their skin, using rollerball applicators. “For more than 30 years, Fred Segal has been customblending fragrances for celebrities, royals and l.a.’s biggest trendsetters, all of whose recipes are locked in a secret vault,” said adam Sandow,

chairman and chief executive officer of Sandow, which owns the global licensing for Fred Segal. “With the Blend, we’ve created an accessible luxury that allows consumers to re-create the bespoke fragrance experience at home and mix endless combinations of personalized scents with one set.” “this is a fun, do-it-yourself approach to bespoke fragrances,” said elena Severin, national brand director of the Blend by Fred Segal. Severin has spent the last 13 years helping customers create their own individual scents. the kit includes 10 different fragrance roller balls, each with a number. the notes chosen represent the best-selling notes at the store’s fragrance bar.

The Blend by Fred Segal.

Numbers 1, 5 and 8 are florals; Numbers 4 and 7 are spices; Number 2 is green; Number 3 epicure; Number 6 musk; Number

9 ocean, and Number 10 citrus. included in the package: a handful of scent “recipes” for popular combinations. examples include

Wales insisted that amazon is in it for the long haul, fully committed to winning in the category. “the launch is Day one and it is our goal to aggressively add selection over time,” he said. “We want to be able to offer every luxury brand consumers are searching for, and they are looking for all of the top brands [on amazon],” he continued, declining to reveal the most-searched beauty brands. “For every business we go into, we want to be the place for consumers to discover and buy whatever they are looking for,” he concluded. “it’s true in books, in automotive, in beauty. in beauty, we recognize we want to push the boundaries to innovate the look and feel. and that was the piece that was missing before.” Cabana, a “vacation scent,” which combines two swirls of floral Number 8, four swirls of ocean Number 9 and two swirls of Citrus Number 10, and Caprice, an earthy blend which combines one swirl of green Number 2, two swirls of Musk Number 6 and five swirls of Citrus Number 10. each “swirl” is one full circle of the roller ball. “it’s a really easy, customer-friendly way to blend,” said Severin. the $150 kit will be in store at Fred Segal Santa Monica and Space NK in November, and later this month will be available online at Refills of each scent can be purchased for $38 each. While executives declined to disclose projected sales, industry sources estimated that the collection would generate about $3 million at retail in its first year on counter.

Amazon's Bold Beauty Play (WWD Issue 10/11/13)  

With the launch on Thursday of the Luxury Beauty Store, hopes to revolutionize how — and as importantly, where — prestige beauty...

Amazon's Bold Beauty Play (WWD Issue 10/11/13)  

With the launch on Thursday of the Luxury Beauty Store, hopes to revolutionize how — and as importantly, where — prestige beauty...