1977: “Le Relais Occitane”, the company’s first store, opens in Manosque. Forty years later, L’Occitane en Provence, which today has more than 2,300 stores in 90 countries, shows us how selling on several channels in several countries is a growth driver that is also possible for SMEs and very small companies.
Markets and channels selection: the “where” and the “how” are the keys for international multichannel growth
It is in the 1990s with the arrival of Reinold Geiger, President and majority shareholder of L’Occitane since 1996, that an international multichannel strategy takes shape. It was based on two axes: sales and marketing.
The company then decides to deploy its distribution across multiple channels – B2C, B2B2C, B2B, digital – and across multiple countries opening three stores overseas in 1996 – first in New York, then Hong Kong and Tokyo.
At the same time, “en Provence” is added to “L’Occitane” to emphasize its origins. This new brand is successfully deployed in France and internationally. In ten years the company grows from 8 to 416€ million in sales, from 10 to 2,000 stores and is exporting 86% of its production.
By adopting a local approach in each market, a brand anchors in the country landscape and can take off internationally.
L’Occitane en Provence has also been innovating with the digital marketing. With a 360° customer database, all purchasing information is managed in such a way as to maintain a perfect knowledge of the customer profile. With this database the company can promote some of its products with a personalized approach, for example through dedicated mailings, relational campaigns and alerts before the end of a product.
On the store side, vendors are equipped with tablets that help them get additional data via the web platform and provide tailored answers directly to customers.
Finally, on social media, L’Occitane en Provence uses beautiful images associated with its brand to expand its Instagram and Facebook communities, combined with a transgenerational strategy powered by partnerships with influencers and youtubers.
L’Occitane en Provence’s digital strategy aims to make every customer feels closer to the brand, in any country at any distance from its headquarters.
Conclusion: international multichannel, vs. global omnichannel, is a strategic growth catalyst
A global omnichannel strategy requires the presence of a brand in all distribution and communication channels. A presence that must be optimized in all countries at the same time. This strategy is a cumbersome and expensive approach for many companies, and almost unachievable for SMEs and startups.
On the contrary, L’Occitane en Provence shows that international multichannel is within the reach of companies of any size, through a gradual expansion, country by country, combined with the implementation of marketing tools to guide and retain consumers in every market and channel.