Interview: Oribe Hair Care General Manager Sid Katari on carving out new travel retail opportunities and stepping up in times of crisis
“We have always looked at growing our business through the lens of creating opportunities,” says Oribe Hair Care General Manager Sid Katari. Facing one of the most significant crises of recent memory, it is exactly this perseverance in carving out new opportunities that has carried Oribe Haircare through the challenges of COVID-19, and hopefully towards sustained recovery.
Oribe Haircare launched in the US domestic market in 2008, creating its own niche category in the luxury haircare space, a niche that has spurred continued success in North America. The brand made its travel retail debut in Cannes last year and has since secured a number of high-profile listings, delivering a +46% sales increase in 2019 year-on-year in the channel.
“Currently, hair care has a very small footprint within the travel retail segment, much like the US retail landscape when Oribe Hair Care first launched in 2008,” says Katari, who is confident that Oribe will achieve a similar trajectory in travel retail. “We believe that there is a huge opportunity here for our brand to define the category in travel retail, like we did with our US retail partners.”
In this interview, Katari outlines Oribe Hair Care’s planned winning strategy to defining the luxury hair category in travel retail. He also underscores the importance of stepping up and helping out in times of crisis and previews what industry partners can expect at Oribe Hair Care’s #Virtual Stand BT-S2 at the forthcoming Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo.
What is the major focus for Oribe at the Virtual Travel retail Expo? What lines, launches or campaigns will you emphasise and showcase?
We are excited to be a part of the Virtual Travel retail Expo. For us, the new definition of luxury is anchored in quality and performance. Our goal is to expand our footprint within the travel retail segment and meet potential partners to share Oribe’s unique collection of best-in-class products.
Our focus will be on showcasing a curated assortment of best-selling products including the Dry Texturizing Spray and our Serene Scalp Collection. We also want to introduce some of our latest launches such as the Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray, our new travel-sized shampoos and exciting 2020 Holiday Collection.
We are also excited to showcase our first ever travel retail-exclusive, the Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil kit. The set includes three airline-friendly sizes of our beautiful Gold Lust Hair Oil, which will be available exclusively with Lotte Duty Free.
Oribe has a very strong professional hair and salon business. What factors led to the decision to launch into travel retail?
Currently, hair care has a very small footprint within the travel retail segment, much like the US retail landscape when Oribe Hair Care first launched in 2008. We believe that there is a huge opportunity here for our brand to define the category, like we did with our US retail partners.
Our success in the US luxury retail market, along with the increased global awareness and demand for Oribe Hair Care, make expanding into travel retail a natural progression for the brand. It took time to build our presence within the luxury retail space, but we built a category that didn’t exist before, and we expect to do the same in travel retail.
We are confident that we will have the same impact on the travel retail industry as we did in the US luxury retail landscape once we’re fully launched. This year, we’re focused on finding the right partners to grow our presence within this segment. Providing a best-in-class experience for consumers — from where they shop to how our products perform — is something we will not compromise on.
Throughout the crisis, Oribe has stepped up to support its salon partners through its #SalonObsessed programme and the Kao Salon Industry Recovery Initiative. Tell us more about these efforts and about your ongoing commitment to supporting your stakeholders through these unprecedented times?
Our top priority is the health and well-being of our customers, clients and team. We have adapted to the new normal by hosting virtual meetings, webinars and phone calls in order to keep everyone safe during this challenging time. The Oribe business is founded on the strength of our relationships and the concept of community, and in these difficult times, that is what we are prioritising.
Additionally, we also launched several digital education initiatives that are currently being offered to our partners in lieu of in-person classes. Our education team hosts live webinars and Instagram Live sessions on a range of topics including styling tutorials, Q&As, career and business advice and more.
We have also developed creative video content specifically for our partners to use and leverage on their social media channels. The content includes styling how-to’s, cutting techniques and product knowledge tutorials from our team of highly skilled educators. The videos allow our partners to stay in touch with their customers digitally and provide content at a time when it is difficult to focus on creating their own. Difficult times are when the word ‘partnership’ is really put to the test. We strive to stay true to this commitment and support our community of business partners during these unprecedented times.
Lastly, we implemented a salon commission programme in an effort to support our salon partners who are temporarily-closed or operating at limited capacity. We’re offering a 50% commission on all retail purchases made by the salons’ customers on Oribe.com. This is available across our entire network, and we will continue the programme through the end of 2020 to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses.
It’s been about one year since Oribe entered the channel. What have been the biggest milestones and challenges since?
The brand is currently sold in Shinsegae, Lotte Duty Free, The Shilla Duty Free, Hyundai Duty Free and Dongwha Duty Free in South Korea and will continue to expand with additional travel retail distribution this year. We saw a +46% increase in sales within the market in 2019 and plan to continue that trajectory as our presence grows. It took time to build our presence within the luxury retail space when we launched the brand in 2008, but we built and defined a luxury beauty category that wasn’t there before, and as I mentioned we expect to do the same in travel retail.
We are confident that we will have the same impact on the travel retail industry to define and rapidly grow a new and productive category with our select group of partners and locations.
We have always looked at growing our business through the lens of creating opportunities. This why we’re very selective about choosing the right distribution partners to work with. It’s so we can redefine the luxury hair category as a high-performance segment in travel retail. With our US retail partners, Oribe Hair Care has been able to establish the luxury hair category in a way that competes with skincare within the retail space. We believe this opportunity exists in travel retail as well, especially if we find the right partners to work with.
What are your major targets by geography, channel or retailer type?
Oribe is looking to expand its footprint globally and is currently preparing to launch in markets such as Japan, Thailand, Spain and Poland. Additionally, we plan to grow our omnichannel distribution as we enter new markets.
We believe there is a tremendous opportunity for the brand and the category throughout the Asian markets and this will definitely be a focus for Oribe Hair Care as we continue to expand with the right partners. The way consumers want to shop while traveling is evolving too, so understanding how to bring a seamless omni-channel experience to the travel consumer will be a focus for the brand and our partners as well.
Virtual becomes reality for Oribe Hair Care
Oribe Hair Care is a Silver Partner at the inaugural Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo.
The unique 5-day ‘live’ event, followed by a 30-day showcase, begins on 12 October, just after the conclusion of the Chinese Golden Week holidays. It features a star-studded series of events across the five days, including a Symposium, category workshops and a new consumer research initiative.
Registration is free for buyers, exhibitors and preferred media partners. (Click here to register)