Charlotte Franceries et Jamel Boutiba
International General Manager Charlotte Franceries and Marketing Director Jamel Boutiba are working together to grow the Roger & Gallet brand overseas. Read on to learn how they have gone about launching a domestic brand internationally.
A little gem in the story of French cosmetics
Roger & Gallet is a French brand through and through. “France is part of our heritage. Aqua Mirabilis, now known as Jean-Marie Farina cologne, was widely used in the royal courts of France and Europe. Napoléon took it everywhere with him, and it was the best-kept beauty secret of Marie-Antoinette and Joséphine de Beauharnais. Roger & Gallet is part of French history”, says Jamel.
Founded by brothers-in-law Armand Roger and Charles Gallet, the brand has been designing fragrances, soaps and beauty rituals for over 150 years using a unique distillation process and natural products inspired by beauty recipes from the imperial court. The idea? To sell Parisian elegance to an international clientele. The first store opened on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the heart of Paris. Success came quickly and continues to this day. To explain the reasons for this, Jamel points to the natural quality of the manufactured products: “The brand’s know-how consists in extracting the purest, essential quality of natural products. Our distillation process enables master perfumers to select the noblest part of each ingredient. We have conserved and are constantly improving on our savoir-faire”. Next there is the brand’s prized association with pleasure: “Our first boutique on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré had no counter, which would have brought a market transaction to mind. Instead, products were served on trays, tearoom-style, for a unique experience”.
French heritage, quintessentially natural, happiness… These are values that resonate with today’s customers who hunger after authenticity. “It is pretty amazing to find an all-natural French brand boasting 150 years of history. People buy our products sight unseen and happily give them as gifts”, says Jamel.
Soon after acquiring the company, L’Oréal spotted Roger & Gallet’s modern qualities and was keen to begin exporting them. The brand is now widely distributed within Europe and has opened boutiques in Japan, China and, most recently, Doha in Qatar.
To ensure a successful international deployment, Charlotte took on the twin challenges of building stores in each country and taking the brand digital on the new markets. To begin with, she set her sights on the first task: “Making the stores profitable was the number-one challenge. For that, we needed to select our locations with care and learn how to sell the brand to people who were unfamiliar with it”. But that was not all. “To boost profitability, we also have to have a strong e-retail business. In China, for example, we had to carve out a place on Alibaba’s Tmall platform”, she explains.
To take on these challenges, Roger & Gallet can draw on several strengths, including the expertise of the L’Oréal Group. As Charlotte says: “The brands of the selective divisions help each other out as we get to grips with a wide range of questions, from understanding local populations and their habits to retailing know-how and digital power”.
The Group’s instincts proved to be right. “The brand and its traditional values are encountering real success abroad. Asian consumers are fascinated by the history of Europe’s royal courts. In China, clients buy our fragrances on Tmall without even trying them out!”, Charlotte tells us. There have been some sweet surprises on the way as well: “Our elegant, refined yet affordable products are seen as great gifts on these markets. In fact, 50% of items are bought to be offered as presents”.
Heartened by these advances, Charlotte and Jamel are already planning the next step for Roger & Gallet. “The next big stage in our deployment will be Hong Kong and Asian travel retail more generally”, says Charlotte. To do that, they still have one challenge to meet: “Staying calm!”, says Jamel. “The hardest thing is to take it easy, because we want to do everything all at once. As a team, we are so passionate about what we are doing, as we work together to build something solid and sustainable.”