No brand, it seems, is impervious to the vast potential of the millennial consumer market. Not even Hermès, a name at the top tier of the luxury category.
Hermès isn’t known for creating marketing-driven products, or objects born of market research. It does its own thing, and that has been its charm. It’s one of the few luxury brands that consistently report global sales growth.
But even a storied French house needs to appeal to the new generation, said Jean-Philippe Collin, Asia Pacific regional director of Hermès Parfums, at the Manila launch this week of Twilly d’Hermès, a fragrance created for “Hermès girls,” as the target demographic is called in a mini movie made around the perfume.
At the media launch here, the press was asked to download an app created for the fragrance, which includes an augmented-reality feature—an animation of the mini movie that stars several young women in some sort of a caper-slash-dance on the streets of Paris, ostensibly on rue de Faubourg, where the Hermès flagship is. It can’t get more millennial than that.
Named after and inspired by the long, thin strip of Hermès silk called Twilly that’s typically used as a neck scarf, headband, or wrapped around bag handles, the fragrance was created to evoke the free-spiritedness, playfulness and sense of mischief in young women.
Christine Nagel, the house’s perfumer, concocted a spicy-fresh floral scent using the unusual combination of three ingredients: ginger, tuberose and sandalwood.
Its pink juice is housed not in typical Hermès perfume bottles, but in a distinctly square, short clear glass, inspired by a carriage lantern. Its oversize black cap is reminiscent of a bowler hat. Around the bottle’s neck is its very own Twilly scarf.
“Japan isn’t keen on fragrances,” said Collin, “but since our global launch on Aug. 28, Japan sales has been strongest. They love the kawaii (cute) aspect of the bottle.”
Globally, the fragrance has been doing far better than expected, he added.
In the Philippines where Hermès boasts a 30-percent sales growth in the fragrance category for 2017, Collin is optimistic about the response to Twilly d’Hermès. The sales growth here, he added, is unique since Hermès didn’t even open new outlets in the past year, and its fragrances are sold in only three Rustan’s locations (Makati, Shangri-La, Alabang) plus the Hermès boutique at Greenbelt 4.
“Filipinos are very keen on perfumes,” Collin noted. “There’s a strong fragrance culture and history. Terre d’Hermès is doing great, even Hermessence, which is the high-end line, they love it here.”
Collin noted that millennials comprise 30 percent of the country’s population. “To reach them, we use their codes—their audacity, their free spirit. They like to twist things their own way. We took those values and put them in this nice box.”
Twilly d’Hermès comes in three sizes, and Collin predicts the smallest, at 30-ml (about P4,000-plus), will do so well here “because it’s very cute, its shape, size and proportion are perfect.”
Hermès perfumes are typically pricier than Chanel or Dior, but the brand has adjusted its price point for Twilly d’Hermès to align itself with its competitors.
In general, Collin said Hermès doesn’t lower its price points to make itself more accessible to a younger market. “When you go to our boutiques all over Asia, there are young people. And they’re not really looking for the entry-level items. They go for the bags, the bangles, the silk. Twilly d’Hermès is just a way to make more noise with millennials.”
As part of Hermès’ efforts to reach its target market, it’s upping its promotions on digital platforms and social media. In some countries, its mini movie is also playing in movie theaters. The Greenbelt boutique is decked out in Twilly d’Hermès, and there’s outdoor visual marketing.
Next year, the brand is set to launch a version of its best-selling men’s fragrance, Terre d’Hermès, but it will not be for a younger segment. “More for the likes of me, post-millennial,” Collin said with a laugh. (In 2014, Terre d’Hermès Eau Tres Fraiche was made for millennial males.)
Hermès is also set to launch its makeup collection in November 2019 and, like its fragrances, it will be sold in very select channels.
“At Hermès, we have a strong room to play because our positioning is about the quality of the product, and a genuine know-how,” said Collin. “Others do imagery, they use models. Everybody is doing the same. We focus on the story and the product itself.”