The much-anticipated launch of the first Hermès lipstick eventually happened last week. In keeping with the French house values, the new lipstick is a concoction of different expertise coming from five different creative minds. Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, kick-started the project five years ago. Pierre Hardy, creative director of jewellery and shoes designed the already iconic colour-block vessel. Bali Barret, artistic director of the ladieswear and silk, contributed with her vision of femininity. Christine Nagel, director olfactory creation, gave this collection its fragrance, while Jérôme Touron, creative director of the beauty division, turned all those inputs into a lipstick.
The new launch seems to capitalise on the cornerstones that built one of the most successful brands in the luxury sector. Quality and timelessness have been the driving forces behind Hermès’ exceptional results in 2019. The company reported a steady growth across all divisions amid tumultuous events like the Hong Kong crisis and threats of various trade wars, with revenue amounting to €6.9 billion, up +15% from the previous year. Why a lipstick though? After all, despite a proliferation of entry level fragrances that are more akin to a duty-free shop than a Rive Gauche department store, Hermès is still perceived as of the most exclusive brands in the world – third to be precise, according to the 2019’s Interbranding ranking. Perhaps, a consolidation of their high-end fragrances could have been a better move. After all, that’s what everyone else seems to be doing.
At a closer look, the key to understand Hermès’ strategic move, is in the accessibility of a well devised new category instead of elevating existing ranges. Perfumes grew at a modest 4%. The brand is not following competitors by promoting its high-end fragrances to spark sales in the more affordable, more commercial offering but it seems to be set to reigniting interest in this whole category by introducing a brand-new product.
P&S Intelligence published a market research that puts the value of the lipstick market at record €11.90 billion by 2024. The market of luxury make-up reached a staggering €49.27 billion in global sales in 2019 and Hermès has already announced that it will be expanding its range of make-up. A raising number of women are seeking instant gratification through impulse purchases from e-commerce beauty websites. Sustainable beauty products and variety of choice without prohibitive prices are the major factors contributing to the growth of the global market. Hermès hit the spot with a refillable, sustainable and innovative lipstick that comes in twenty-four hues plus a selection of limited-edition colours, imbued with the house codes but without the prices of the iconic Birkin.