In 1931, Dr. Paul Niehans, an academic at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, successfully developed a living cell treatment to improve wrinkles and aging. He also established the world-famous anti-aging treatment center Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland. The center soon became a vacation destination for Europe’s high society. In 1953, Paul Niehans successfully made the treatment to Pope XII which established status of Clinique La Prairie.
In 1978, he founded La Prairie, which is known as “the luxury of skin care”, and officially separated the brand from the care center. In 1991 Beiersdorf announced the acquisition of La Prairie and set up an independent research and development team to promote product innovation by replacing the original living cells with plant cell extracts to increase its added value. Under Beiersdorf’s management, La Prairie has continued its technological attributes and is known for its high-end ingredients. The products was highlighted by four rare ingredients: platinum, gold, caviar pure and caviar extract. The exquisite technology and high-end ingredients supported high pricing of La Prairie.
Traveling far to find the rare ingredients that are at the heart of La Prairie’s products.
The Chinese market has become an important growth engine for the performance of major international beauty brands in recent years and the premiumization of Chinese beauty consumption is evident in their group’s financial results. The performance in 2019 announced by Beiersdorf Group showed that La Prairie sales gained a strong growth of 20% with unabated momentum compared to the 26.8% sales growth in the first half of 2019, which also provided a significant impetus to the overall performance of Beiersdorf Group. The group said growth of La Prairie was driven by its Asian traveling retail business, which includes airports and duty free as well as by outstanding performance in China and Australia.
As one of the four premium skincare brands, along with Sisley, Lamer and HR, La Prairie has become the “hot cake” that major department stores in China are competing to introduce it. With the growing demand for high-end cosmetics in the emerging market represented by China, it is also regarded as an important business segment in the new strategy of Beiersdorf C.A.R.E+.
La Prairie sales plunged 23.9% in fiscal 2020 following the COVID-19 mainly due to the downturn in travel retail business. To better seize on the China market opportunity, La Prairie has also opened Tmall official flagship store. (Tmall official flagship store: the brand’s store on the Tmall platform; Tmall: one of the most popular comprehensive shopping sites in China.)
As of September 29, 2021, the Tmall flagship store has attracted over 156,000 followers. The Skin Caviar Eye Lift, priced at $525.98, has turned into the number one selling product in the flagship store. The Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir and Platinum Rare Essence, priced at a whopping $1,740.37, have also been purchased by 11 and 5 people respectively.
There are a total of 58 SKU in the flagship store of La Prairie with product categories such as eye creams, essences and sleep masks which also includes few makeup products, such as cushion foundation, liquid foundations and foundations.
As a key growth driver for the Beiersdorf Group’s brand La Prairie, China remains a key region in the development of the Group’s new C.A.R.E+ strategy. Not only has La Prairie expanded its channel development and digital presence through its flagship store on Tmall, but it has also acknowledged further to Chinese consumers and increase sales for its brands in China.
In the first quarter of 2021, almost all of La Prairie’s 17% sales growth came from its China boutiques and duty-free sales as well as its strategic moving to the Tmall platform. It also achieved 41% growth in the first half of 2021 and China acted as the “accelerator” for its strong growth.