Dermo-cosmetic and naturally-based skin and haircare were already on a massive roll before the Covid-19 pandemic fast-tracked both categories. A 2019 report from Euromonitor International pinpointed skin health rather than beauty as a growing consumer demand, with 60 per cent of consumers looking for moisturising and hydrating properties, added vitamins for antioxidant and texture benefits and sensitive skin claims. The Pierre Fabre group is at the cutting edge of providing skincare and haircare products that protect and prevent against leading skincare concerns with its power brands – Eau Thermale Avène and Klorane.  We are the second largest dermo-cosmetics laboratory in the world, says Laurent-Emmanuel Saffré, Head of Oceania Region and CEO of Pierre Fabre Australia. “We are also the leader in terms of over-the-counter products sold in pharmacies in France and a world player in two major therapeutic areas – oncology and dermatology”.

DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH /  STRONG RETAIL PARTNERSHIPS

Pierre Fabre’s global revenues totalled 2.4  billion euros (AUD$3.88 billion) in 2019 and the group’s products are sold in 130 countries. “Klorane and Eau Thermale Avene sales have enjoyed double-digit growth YTD October 2020 in Australia, according to IRI sales*”, says Saffré. “In Q3 2020, Klorane was the number one natural haircare brand sold in Australian pharmacies.” The majority of Australians now shop online, 84 per cent according to IRI analysis, he notes. “From March to June, there was a clear gain in shoppers doing more online shopping, but broad penetration growth opportunities still exist, especially among older consumers. At Pierre Fabre Australia, online sales and digital acceleration have been a strong focus over the past two years. Since the beginning for the Covid-19 pandemic, we have experienced triple digit growth in online sales.” We have developed strong relationships with our online retail partners to support further growth and have also seen a huge increase in click-and-collect sales, adds Saffré. “Dedicated promotional offers and increased content has been key to our successful e-commerce growth. But we believe in an omnichannel strategy which fuses the best of offline and online. We continue to work very closely with both independent pharmacies and major banners, implementing strong promotional plans and merchandising activities to cover every touchpoint of the consumer journey.”

HIGH LEVEL OF CUSTOMER SERVICE / INNOVATIVE NEW LAUNCHES

Pierre Fabre also rapidly adopted new strategies to reach out to its customers virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic, says Saffré. “We started weekly Instagram livestreaming, which covered different topics each time. It was a great opportunity to have a direct conversation with consumers and allowed us to answer their questions about our products. We also ran direct-to-consumer webinars, discussing new products and tips and tricks to make the most of our products. In addition, our training team conducted weekly webinars for beauty advisors and pharmacy staff to educate them on our product ranges and maintain a high level of service, which has always been at the heart of what we do.” 2020 was a strong year in terms of new product launches for both Eau Thermale Avène and Klorane, he notes. “We launched a breakthrough product in acne management – Avène Cleanance Comedomed AntiBlemish Concentrate. A highly concentrated, fast-acting formula providing long-lasting clinical benefits with targeted dual action to effectively reduce and limit the reappearance of blemishes and blackheads and regulate the hyper-production of sebum. Containing our exclusive Comedoclastin™, a plantbased active based on milk thistle oil, results are impressive with 90 per cent clearer skin after only 7 days of use.”

Another major success was the launch of the Avène A-Oxitive range, says Saffré. “Containing a unique form of Vitamin C – Ascorbyl Glucoside – A-Oxitive products use gradual release technology which transforms Pro-Vitamin C to Pure Vitamin C when it comes into contact with the skin. Throughout the day, the Pure Vitamin C is gradually released for optimal efficacy, excellent tolerance and long-lasting antioxidant protection. This means that consumers get results equivalent to 15% Pure Vitamin C in a much gentler way, making A-Oxitive a true innovation for sensitive skin.”

Klorane’s iconic Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk is the gold standard of dry shampoos and the brand’s hero product in Australia and other leading markets. “We introduced the Klorane Aquatic Mint Detox range recently,” he says. “Formulated with purifying, organic Aquatic Mint extract as a powerful antioxidant, this non-stripping lineup deeply cleanses and eliminates impurities from the hair and scalp and is clinically proven to de-toxify particle pollution and environmental residue.” Aquatic mint has a high polyphenol content, making it the species of mint with the highest antioxidant protection, adds Saffré. “We use aquatic mint that is organically farmed and harvested in southwest France – the home of Klorane. We obtain a 100 per cent natural extract from the plant without using water or solvents to preserve and optimise the mint’s natural properties, while reducing the carbon footprint by 72 per cent”.

CUTTING EDGE RESEARCH / TARGETED AMBASSADORS

Nature has always been at the centre of the Pierre Fabre Laboratories model, says Saffré. “Our cutting edge plant research combines the expertise of botanists, agronomists, biologists and pharmacists. The accumulation of data from over 50 years of research, combined with an indepth knowledge of plants and mineral spring water have enabled us to market hundreds of dermo-cosmetic products made with naturally-derived ingredients.” It is this marriage of nature and science through established, heritage brands, combined with local marketing communications, that strongly appeals to Australian consumers, he adds. “Our partnership with local ambassadors such as Turia Pitt, the best-selling author, athlete and motivational speaker, and Olympic swimming champion, Cate Campbell, has helped to build brand awareness in Australia, while maintaining our French medical heritage. Turia has visited the Avène Hydrotherapy Centre in France twice and Cate is a longterm user of our Avène sunscreen to protect her sensitive skin from the sun, following the removal of a stage one melanoma in 2018.”

GREEN MISSION / ONLINE-OFFLINE FUSION KEY TO FUTURE

In early 2020, Pierre Fabre unveiled its Green Mission to confirm the company’s core identity and deep commitment to sustainable development and naturalness. “It’s a token of trust and transparency and shared values,” says Saffré. “In Australia, Qantas is a Future Planet partner and we have been involved in the Bringing Back the Bush project in NSW and Queensland and Offset Project in the Northern Territory. We also encourage employee engagement in Citizen Day, assisting with the digitisation project at the National Herbarium of NSW.  Other global initiatives include a commitment to eco-friendly packaging, environmental partnerships, shorter  supply chains, the preservation of natural resources and much more.” Pierre Fabre encourages a green approach at every level of the company. This happens through knowledge sharing, supporting dispensaries in their CSR initiatives, involvement in educating pharmacists about therapies, and getting employees involved in social and environmental initiatives, he says. “Dedicated to atopic dermatitis, the most severe form of eczema, the Eczema Foundation supports research, provides patients with information, offers care by developing specialised centres, and provides funding for clinical studies. Over 40 atopic dermatitis schools have been created  in around 15 countries, including one  in Australia.”

Looking forward, Saffré believes that the shift to online sales will be permanent post Covid-19. “We are currently investigating to sell through additional digital channels, as well as providing even more online experiences such as innovative digital events and livestreaming on social media platforms. “But we believe that when the pandemic is over, the need for human connection will be greater than ever, which will boost conversational commerce. We will need to be closer than ever to our consumer and our patient and tailor our messages and information more accurately to fit their needs. We also believe that physical beauty retail will remain a key channel in the consumer journey, as long as it reinvents itself through click-and-collect and continues to provide expert beauty and professional healthcare advice at the point-of-sale”. * IRI MarketEdge Pharmacy Data YTD to 1/11/20. Excluding Avène Thermal Spring Water 300ml

FAST FACTS – LAURENT- EMMANUEL SAFFRÉ

•  Laurent-Emmanuel Saffré holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, as well as a Master’s degree in Management and Marketing from ESSEC, one of the leading business schools in France.

•  He joined Pierre Fabre in 1996 and has spent most of his career in North America, implementing the Canadian subsidiary and managing the Americas and UK region.

•  In 2012, Saffré was appointed CEO of Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetique USA, overseeing the Eau Thermale Avène, Klorane, Glytone, Rene Furterer and Ducray brands.

•  He moved to Sydney in 2019 as Head of Oceania Region and CEO of Pierre Fabre Australia to run operations for the Dermo-Cosmetic and Medical Care divisions across the Oceania region, including New Zealand and the Pacific islands.

•  The Eau Thermale Avène brand originates from Avène, a small town in southwest France famed for its thermal springs since the 18th century. The Pierre Fabre Group acquired the town’s world-leading hydrotherapy centre in 1975 and launched the skincare brand in 1990.

•  The company has a unique business model and is mainly owned by a certified not-for-profit organisation – the Pierre Fabre Foundation. A structure which enables it to facilitate the training for drug and healthcare professionals and help vulnerable populations in poorer regions of the world.

This article was first published in the Autumn issue of esprit.

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