Jurlique’s managing director for international markets Benoit Wagner.

Jurlique is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with big plans for the future. Since the mid-2000s the company has morphed into a global skincare player, fast-tracked by strong growth in key regional markets, particularly Asia. Pola Orbis, the fourth largest cosmetic company in Japan, acquired the Australian natural beauty pioneer for US$300 million in 2012 and two of the major reasons for the buyout were the brand’s strong presence in China and travel retail. Jurlique’s eco-luxe positioning, backed by its famed seed-to-skin philosophy, has never been more relevant, says Jurlique’s managing director for international markets Benoit Wagner.

Hong Kong-based Wagner joined Jurlique two years ago, tasked with furthering the company’s reach in new markets in Asia and the US. A graduate of the Paris School of Business, the Frenchman took on his current global role in December 2018. Over the past 20 years, he has accumulated extensive experience in both the fashion and beauty sectors. Most of his executive positions have centred on the Asia-Pacific region – South Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong – working for such storied brands as Christian Dior, Sephora, Givenchy and Sisley, the French luxury skincare brand, where his responsibilities were largely focused on travel retail.

Travel retail and sustainability focus  

Last November, Wagner attended TFWA (Tax Free World Exhibition & Conference) in Cannes with Pola Orbis vice-president, Naoki Kume. The delegation marked the first time the Japanese multinational had attended the event. Global travel retail is growing strongly, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region and the company is looking to expand in the sector with its four strongest skincare brands – Jurlique, Pola, Orbis and Three.

The global landscape might be a little unpredictable at the moment, but we are re-positioning Jurlique and re-vamping the brand, says Wagner. “There is plenty of interest in Jurlique’s unique origins, values and seed-to-skin naturalness. We have always been at the forefront of the natural skincare category, but we have to re-explain to consumers that we offer much more and are biodynamic, vegan and sustainable.”

Wagner believes that the time is right to propel Jurlique to super brand status and push its credentials as the cleanest beauty brand in the world. “We have complete control over our supply chain from our certified organic farm in South Australia. The sustainability trend in beauty is here to stay and I can only see it accelerating. In Europe there is increasing demand for biodynamic beauty and more so in North America with the clean beauty trend.”

Huge potential in Europe, Asia and the US

Wagner recently visited Russia and Poland – two markets which are also very interested in biodynamic skincare. “I spoke to a major distributor and I believe that Jurlique has huge potential in major European markets such as Germany, France, the UK and Scandinavia. European, Asian, North American and Australian consumers are seeking out authentic brands. We have always believed in our founding values which revolve around sustainability, social commitment and giving back to the earth.”

The centre of growth in the global beauty industry is Asia and we have been operating in China since 2009, says Wagner. “At the end of 2019, we took over 45 POS counters in China and we have a flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall. We can communicate directly with Chinese customers, who are also very interested in natural skincare and anti-ageing as well. Travel retail has a big share of the market and is one of the top five channels for Jurlique. Our main areas of focus are China, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan in the channel and the core customer of Asian travel retail is Chinese – accounting for 50 per cent of the market.”

Wagner also believes that that the global well-being trend is key to the future of Jurlique. “Beauty is a way of life today. People want to look and feel good on the outside and the inside. Every time I go into a Jurlique store, I can smell the aromatherapy benefits of our products. We have also put a lot of effort into becoming known as a spa brand in the US to tie in with the fast-growing well-being and health market.” 


Pola Orbis technology and the new Nutri-Define Supreme range

J-Beauty, as the Japanese cosmetics industry has been dubbed, is more popular than ever and being owned by Pola Orbis is a huge advantage, says Wagner. “Our parent company is a market leader in R&D. When Nutri-Define, a trio of anti-ageing day and night creams and a serum, launched in 2014, it was a very important development for Jurlique from a scientific perspective and strongly supported by Pola Orbis. More expensive and more innovative than anything we had done before, consumers all over the world looked at Jurlique in a new way.”

In January this year, Jurlique relaunched Nutri-Define as Nutri-Define Supreme. There are six products in the new lineup – Nutri-Define Supreme Cleansing Foam, Restorative Light Cream, Restorative Rich Cream, Conditioning Lotion, Rejuvenating Serum and Eye Contour Balm. The two hero ingredients are spilanthes flower and horseradish root extract.

Ulrike Klein, one of the founders of Jurlique, discovered the spilanthes flower in South America, says Wagner. “But Pola Orbis did extensive research on the flower and seeds to uncovers its major properties, including the ability to increase collagen production in the skin. We harvest the spilanthes flowers on the farm only on days when the moon passes through the air and light signs of the zodiac – Libra, Gemini and Aquarius – to capture their full biodynamic effects. The power of the flower combined with our Biosome6 technology, makes the Nutri-Define Supreme range is even more effective in rejuvenating the skin.”

New generation of customers

Jurlique has built up a very loyal customer base, but we are reaching out to a new generation who rate sustainability, organics and ethics more highly than their predecessors, says Wagner. “I have two teenage daughters, aged 14 and 16, and the Jurlique story is very compelling to them. This attitude is truly global with younger consumers in all of the major regional markets.”

Leveraging its online presence has been a major goal for Jurlique for more than a decade. “I don’t believe that sales should be 100 per cent online or offline,” says Wagner. “China is the second largest online market in the world and is very specific. Between 34 and 40 per cent of sales are online in the Chinese market and this will increase. We are strong in tier 1 and tier 2 cities and online sales help us to reach tier 3 cities and beyond. E-commerce also allows us to learn about the wants and needs of our customers and we are seeing that many of our Chinese clients are placing great importance on well-being.”

Wagner worked for Sisley, the luxury French skincare brand also renowned for its natural ingredients, for 10 years. “I learned so much about the efficacy of naturally-based skincare. Also the importance of quality, focus and the difference it can offer. Jurlique has a good business in body care – about 45 per cent – but our major focus going forward is the face, which currently accounts for 55 per cent of our business. Our original Nutri-Define range has been a success, especially in China, Hong Kong and Australia. The new Supreme range will build on that legacy to become a hero range in the global skincare market.”

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