Yves Rocher, the Botanical Beauty Expert

« Our greatest achievement was not discovering the properties of plants, but making them available to everyone. » So believes Yves Rocher, the famous founder of the botanical beauty company of the same name. He was guided by two key aims: accessible beauty and scientific innovation using plants.

Fascinated by active ingredients in plants, the young Yves Rocher started his business at 28 years old with a ‘lesser flower’ based cream. At that time, in 1959, the beauty market was still dominated by the elite, so the young businessman decided to make cosmetics accessible to all women. (2) This is how mail-order selling started, publishing ads in national newspapers and popular magazines such as “Ici Paris” and “France Dimanche. » (1) The success was immediate and the brand rapidly gained momentum in France.  With a client base of around 5,000 addresses, the brand now attracts over 30 million customers worldwide.

Customer proximity, part of Yves Rocher’s DNA

« At Yves Rocher, customer service is in the company genes, » says Christophe Coussen, marketing director of the brand, « Mr. Yves Rocher, our founder, never ceased to remind us that « every client is a queen and should be treated as one. » The whole company was built around this philosophy. » (3)

Developing a unique bond with consumers by responding to their needs was Yves Rocher’s original aim. Since the brand was created, this objective has been a key part of the founder’s strategy. It was with this in mind that the first brand catalogue, called the « Green Book » was launched in 1965. The book, designed as a magazine is a true beauty bible that not only highlights the brand’s best sellers and new products, but also offers advice from our expert make-up artists, researchers and advisers. Nowadays more than 10 million copies in 25 languages are published every year. It has also been available in Braille for over 10 years in partnership with the HandicapZéro association.

« This is the success story of a man who, fifty years ago, had the brilliant idea to make cosmetics directly accessible to women who had access to very few products. Yves Rocher invented CRM without even knowing it(…), » says Catherine Haegel , Consumer Marketing Director at Yves Rocher France, « The Yves Rocher brand boasts a unique position in both exclusive and direct distribution, we are a botanist, a producer, a manufacturer and a distributor all at the same time which, in terms of CRM, is a clear advantage in terms of customer knowledge. So yes, this is definitely a success story. » (4)

Distance selling, an asset that lives on

Following the 1968 strikes which immobilized package delivery in France, Yves Rocher decided to launch its first store on the ‘Grands Boulevards’ in Paris. While this strategy helped the brand to expand its distribution channels, distance selling remains a key part of the company strategy. In 2000, the opening of the first online shop in France gave the brand strategy a new life.

In 2013, the site was even awarded the FEVAD award for « most popular beauty site » for the sixth year running and the second overall site of the year behind Amazon. (4) With 23 sales sites across five continents, Yves Rocher attracts over 90 million visitors and boasts expertise in « accessible beauty » with a « glocal » organization which uses common tools and marketing techniques adapted to different countries and cultures. (5) In France, distance selling is carried out using specific techniques.

« This is done via the press and by regular promotion, mailing lists from partner sellers, ‘all letterbox’ operations which consist of several million copies of non addressed letters delivered twice a year. As far as our online strategy goes, we are looking to recruit cyber-buyers through partnerships, memberships, banners, emailing list leases, etc. » explains Catherine Haegel.

Committment to sustainable development

The second brand philosophy, in parallel with the CRM strategy, is that ecological and sustainable values are a founding basis for the overall Yves Rocher policy. In 1975, the brand created a botanical garden to serve as a research laboratory for the company’s experts. In 1991 the Yves Rocher Foundation was born. The brand’s first eco-refill followed in 1993 and applied the brand founder’s commitment to the environment. In 1997 the brand was responsible for labelling 55 hectares of transgenic plants according to the Organic Agriculture by Ecocert specifications.

In order to demonstrate this environmental commitment, the brand decided to renew its store identity in 2008 in partnership with Saguez and Partners. Renamed the « Ateliers de la cosmétique végétale » (botanic beauty studio), new Yves Rocher outlets highlight the brand’s foundations, values, origins, expertise and the founder’s vision for female beauty. Plants take pride of place and a new space dedicated to men was created. In addition to this change, the new logo depicts the YR initials written in the shape of a leaf and enclosed in a round circle. (1)

« We pride ourselves on having a relatable strategy structured around three pillars: our brand and botanic cosmetics (our commitments to the planet and sustainable development ), the product experience (customer satisfaction) and finally value for money, » outlines Catherine Haegel, « moreover, there is a real generosity about the brand which is expressed through several promotions and giveaways rewarding cumulative purchases. »

A relatable cosmetics brand

Voted the most popular business in France for the seventh time in September 2013 by the Posternak/Ifop barometer, Yves Rocher is devoted to maintaining good client relationships. This is explained by Christophe Coussen: « Today, thanks to a database of addresses, contact details and consumer habits, we recognise every one of our clients. This allows us to send them personalised offers. Newsletters are laid out so that on the front page the client can discover the offer of the month and on the back a personalised offer. In terms of distance selling, letters also provide a section related to seasonality of supply and a space for advice tailored to each client. In stores, the Yves Rocher beauty consultants accompany consumers throughout their purchase journey. » ( 5 )

Customisation and accessibility as keywords

Along with this CRM specific strategy, the brand has developed RFM segmentation (recency frequency and monetary value) to adapt its loyalty policy to shopping frequency, the types of products consumed and also consumer behaviour. « The more women consume, the more they become involved in marketing strategy policies,” says Christophe Coussen, adding, « We also devise categories which correspond to the channels that clients use to consume and their activity on different media ( blogs, websites, etc. . ). » (5)

To add to personal customer relations, Yves Rocher even launched a “smart” loyalty card. On the back of it, depending on the consumer’s buying tendencies, the card displays a personal message when the customer checks out with an offer tailored to the products purchased that day. « Our loyalty program is not here to establish a hierarchy between our clients. Every customer is treated in the same way, » says Christophe Coussen.

Further evidence of the brand’s commitment to its customers comes in its communication platforms (film, TV and print), launched in 2007 by the agency M&C Saatchi.Gad. It reflects the brand’s values through its tagline: « reinvent yourself every day. » « Based on three values: accessibility, simplicity and proximity, the brand is not personified by a muse, as we want to invest in the product itself and not in what’s around it to make the brand available in terms price and service, » says Stéphane Bianchi, CEO of the brand. (1)

The internet provides a medium to strengthen customer relations

As the brand story continues, digital communication continues to strengthen Yves Rocher’s identity. Since 2008, when the brand renewed its communication strategy, all tools have been oriented towards the client and their needs. First the brand adopted social networks. As a faster way to discuss new products, the brand’s Facebook page quickly became a place for women to meet and discuss beauty news. Yves Rocher now has over 750,000 Facebook fans in France and almost 2 million worldwide.

In 2010 the online store was launched and enriched the Yves Rocher brand. Now a pillar of the Yves Rocher marketing strategy, this online space is a great source of content and advice for women. To increase the editorial quality of the site, the brand even created a webzine named Blogzine.

Christophe Coussen explains: « This webzine (part blog, part magazine) covers all topics of female interests: fashion, trends, accessories, beauty, as well as cultural themes (Books, film releases, etc.). Launched in May 2010, it is regularly added to by five bloggers employed by Yves Rocher. These beauty experts share their passions and encourage customers to react to the latest brand updates. With a dozen comments per article, the system places women at the centre of customer relations. » (5)

Similarly, the same year, a « Beauty Wiki » was opened on the site. This collaborative encyclopaedia is devoted entirely to the history of beauty and invites users to contribute to its content. « Clients use it as a tool for consultation and enrichment. They can share their know-how and beauty tips. A real relationship is thus formed between the brand and their valued customers, » says Christophe Coussen.

In his book about the history of beauty, the historian Georges Vigarello explains that this century marks the democratisation of beauty: « The quest for beauty has become hedonistic as it becomes more and more accessible.” Beauty is « for all, » it is « subtly characterised by equality dynamics. » (6) Yves Rocher’s dream is related to this. From the creation of the first distance selling strategy to personalised online strategies offering advice to women, the « green » brand has always been committed to beauty for all.


Sources :
(1) Prodimarques
(2) Yves Rocher Site
(3) http://www.relationclientmag.fr/
(4) http://www.e-marketing.fr/
(5) http://www.ecommercemag.fr/
(6) Georges Vigarello, Histoire de la beauté : Le corps et l’art d’embellir de la Renaissance à nos jours, Broché, 2004

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