I’m a huge Kiehl’s fan. And it’s not just because I consider their body moisturiser – Creme De Corps – to be the best on the market. I literally drown my skin in that stuff.
It’s because I am consistently enchanted by their creative visual merchandising – in my opinion, some of the best in the business. So much so, that I seek out Kiehl’s stores wherever I am in the world. I love to see the marriage of strong branding and fresh retail interiors with quality products. Kiehl’s delivers in all areas.
The company was founded as an old-world apothecary in New York’s East Village in 1851. In the early 1920’s, Irving Morse, a Jewish Russian emigre and pharmacologist purchased the store. He was heavily involved in the development of many of the company’s key products, many of which (including my beloved Creme de Corps) are still available today. Irving then passed on the mantle to his son who is credited with transforming the business into the high-end establishment you see today, along with a huge contribution from Morse’s grand-daughter, who injected her marketing know-how. In 2000, The L’Oreal Group acquired Kiehl’s as the company literally couldn’t cope with the overwhelming volume of orders. Fortunately, the Kiehl’s motto and modus operandi have remained the same – to develop responsible, quality cosmetics rooted in pharmaceutical, herbal and medicinal research.
They have over retail 30 stores. Each one is unique in its layout and presentation but also strongly linked to the base concept – to present the heritage of the company, to represent the benefits of each product and to engage the consumer in a meaningful manner. The store interiors are famed for their interactive exhibits and installations, which elicit added interest in the brand. These include in-house exhibitions, do-it-yourself sample dispensers and in-store photo booths.
I’m sure trend analysts would have a lot to say about their strategies. In today’s fierce marketplace, consumer brands really have no choice at this level but to constantly innovate and devise new ways to capture consumer interest.
These are photographs of their original store in East Village, Manhattan. I love the way that you can interact with, learn about and buy their products in a myriad creative ways.
My latest Kiehl’s obsession is the current Christmas campaign – a series of cartoon characters by US illustrator Andy Rementer.