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Exceeding Japanese market’s quality standards: L’Occitane’s formula for long-lasting growth

Chaired by Armel Cahierre, the French Chamber’s Business and Setup Development Committee welcomed Nicolas Geiger, President of L’Occitane Group Japan, on September 28. Nicolas told the success story of the group in detail and explained the strategies that allowed for that success.

In one of the largest cosmetics markets in the world, with the advantage of being the first pastoral Provence cosmetics brand to arrive on the market, and considering the Japanese’s interest in French products, the survival of the company in Japan was practically ensured.

But what made and still makes its success – according to Nicolas – is the group’s trusting of locals and an entrepreneurship will. “Instead of copying the competition, do something drastically different”. And so, instead of setting up in department stores as many other high-end cosmetics brands do, L’Occitane opened its own stores and hired a Japanese woman as General Manager in a country where practically only men form part of top management. But the company still had to make sure their products’ quality was up to par with the market’s very high standards.

Among others, Nicolas gave credit to Shiho Takano, a very strong and risk-taking woman who was the first President and Representative Director. “She was always focused on the products and their uniqueness, and knew how to surprise customers every time.”

Nicolas joined L’Occitane Group Brazil in 2011, first as Marketing Director then as Sales and Marketing Director, and ended up leading the subsidiary. Brazil became one of the fastest growing branches of the group, and as a result, Nicolas was relocated to Japan in 2017 as head of the subsidiary. He currently spends two hours a day learning Japanese, striving to understand the culture’s intricacies in order to keep satisfying local customers.

With almost 3000 stores around the world, L’Occitane Group experienced a growth of 13% from 2016 to 2017. It currently sells over 40% of its products in Asia with Japan being its biggest market (18%), where apart from stores, it operates 3 cafés “L’Occitane”.

The very popular event welcomed 50 attendees at the room’s full-capacity, and was followed by a Q&A session and a networking cocktail.

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