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Kiehl’s success is in their difference

So now that you’ve met Kiehl’s and know a bit more about their journey you can’t but wonder how they’ve been able to achieve the almost cult status they have today.

So what makes Kiehl’s different? I sat down with Kiehl’s PR & Communications Manager and Nina Le Roux-Marais and Business Unit Manager Azhar Moosa for the scoop.

1.  Unique heritage

I detailed the Kiehl’s heritage in my previous post but put simply this is deeply rooted in the brand still today, wearing their history with pride and it serves them well.

 Samples 🙂 And I love the extra personal touch – so unexpected!

2. Unorthodox business model

  • Kiehl’s does absolutely no advertising or celebrity endorsements – none, though celebs have often spoken out about how much they love the brand.
  • The products have simple and straightforward packaging & you can’t miss that the ingredients list – always on the front of the packaging and not in a tiny & illegible font.
  • Kiehl’s invests heavily in tailor-made sampling or “prescriptions” and their motto is “try before you buy” firmly believing that that’s all that’s needed to get you hooked. Confident much?
  • As such they gave away a whopping 40 million samples last year & believe that no customer (or potential customer) should leave a store without samples.
  • Kiehl’s is rooted in a service ethos that links back to their days of being a neighbourhood pharmacy and it’s easy to tell their staff (all in white coats) are far above the usual standard that we’re used to meeting behind beauty counters.

3. Approach to product development

  • The Kiehl’s philosophy is about choosing the very best ingredients – the perfect balance between nature and science.
  • They don’t do any blind testing because they don’t benchmark themselves against other cosmetic companies.
  • They are driven by meeting customer needs/concerns and is this exact thing has been the catalyst to many of their product launches.

I also love that community service is in the DNA of the brand and testament to this is during WWI when John Kiehl’s donated cream to soldiers for their dry, chapped hands. Kiehl’s Gives is the name of their global CSI initiatives worldwide, the focus is 3 fold:

  1. HIV AIDS  (dating back in the 80’s when it was still taboo)
  2. Children’s causes (which is the chosen cause for SA)
  3. Environmental issues

What’s next for Kiehl’s SA?

  • At least of 8o% of the full range is currently available in SA and this may well increase as demand does
  • Kiehl’s is aiming to roll out 5 stores in the next 3 years
  • A Cape Town store is next on the cards for Q1 of 2013 and Durban will follow
  • Best of all, an online store is coming next year so everyone can get their hand on Kiehl’s

And if you can’t get to the Sandton City store to pick up some samples soon, in a match made in heaven you can now sign up for the Kiehl’s October rubybox – eek!

Oh and of course I’ll be back to talk Kiehl’s some more once I’ve tried some of their samples – I even got some for my fro! 🙂

W

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