'A strong, strategic decision': Hermès shifts into cosmetics with lipstick launch

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Rouge Hermès features 24 shades of rechargeable metal cased lipsticks (Image: Hermes International)
The Rouge Hermès features 24 shades of rechargeable metal cased lipsticks (Image: Hermes International)

Related tags: Hermès, Lipstick, Colour cosmetics, refillable packaging, Prestige beauty

French perfume house Hermès has launched a line of lipsticks, marking its first venture into colour cosmetics that it will build out gradually with additional product launches.

Following five years of research and development, the Rouge Hermès collection launched today in select Hermès stores and retail outlets across 35 countries. Featuring 24 shades of rechargeable lipsticks in matte and satin finishes, the collection also includes a lip balm, lip shine, pencil and brush.

Hermès said the move marked the beginning of a wider but gradual push into cosmetics. “Hermès Beauty will be enhanced with other objects, to be revealed every six months from September 2020, until a complete line of make-up is created,” ​the company said.

Hermès Beauty would also roll out three limited edition colours twice-yearly across the lipstick range.

Hermès jumps on the make-up bandwagon - a 'strong, strategic decision for the brand'

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Hannah Pervez, consumer analyst at GlobalData, said the lipstick collection should gain quite a bit of attention in the make-up space.

“Hermès’ decision to jump on to the make-up bandwagon will most likely prove another success. This is a strong, strategic decision for the brand as designer make-up is becoming increasingly popular due to the quality of finish, colour and texture,”​ Pervez said.

“These qualities cannot be achieved through drugstore brands and consumers are increasingly investing in premium cosmetics.”

This lipstick line would appeal to consumers seeking premium products that were “both chic and Instagrammable”, ​she said.

Asked if it was a smart move to start with lipsticks, Pervez said: “Lipsticks are a great starting point for the make-up line because it gives consumers a feel for what is next to come – the texture and shades will set precedence for further releases. What’s more, unlike some beauty products such as foundations, lipsticks are less tricky when matching to particular skin types and pigments, meaning that the brand’s launch will appeal to a wider variety of consumers with a ‘one fit for all’ approach.”

Nina Marston, beauty and fashion analyst at Euromonitor International, agreed it was a "strong move"​ from Hermès, for two specific reasons. "One reason, is that the beauty industry is currently worth over US$500 billion [€450bn] globally and is set to grow further over the next five years. In particular, premium lipstick is set to grow by a CAGR of 9% globally over the period 2020-2023. Another reason is that expanding its beauty offering is a promising way for an ultra-exclusive luxury brand of Hermès’ calibre to appeal to aspirational customers, who cannot afford a handbag from the coveted brand for thousands of pounds but will invest in beauty items because of their lower price-points."

Marston said other luxury fashion brands had seen enormous success with their beauty lines - Chanel being one good example where its "super premium beauty products"​ now generated over a third of total sales. 

"If executed carefully, a beauty offering is an excellent way for brands to win the loyalty of these aspirational consumers. This venture into lipstick could very well be successful for the brand because it is so focused on one very popular and versatile beauty product, and because the product has been crafted with extreme precision to reflect the brand DNA and values, with features such as colour shades that reflect the Hermès bag colours as well as luxurious refillable packaging that can serve as collectible items in themselves,"​ she said.

A sustainable push – prestige lipsticks ‘made to last’

Hermès said its rechargeable lipstick collection had been “made to last”,​ using lacquered, brushed and polished metal casings.

And Pervez said the fact sustainability was “one of the key driving forces behind the release”​ was important.

“This is highly appealing as consumers are trying to live greener lifestyles and reduce with less landfill waste. Our 2019 Q3 Global Consumer Survey results indicate that 81% of global consumers agree that living on an ethical or sustainable lifestyle is very important in creating a feeling of wellness. Notably, feeling physically attractive also garnered a high response at 75%. This proves that Hermès are on the right path and this range will be a success.”

Such a move to launch a rechargeable lipstick came at “the right time”,​ according to ideas raised by Pascale Marciniak, packaging innovation director of Chanel, recently at ADF&PCD Paris.

Addressing attendees at the event in January, Marciniak said: “The luxury industry is perceived as less committed [to sustainability] but it’s still the most powerful. Why? Because it’s very visible; it’s a leader in opinion and people look at actions carried out by these brands. …Sustainable development was just at the beginning a few years ago. Now, it’s the right time and consumers are ready. It’s the right time to act.”

Marciniak said there was a “community of value between luxury and sustainable development, but also for excellency” ​that was worth focusing on in prestige beauty.

Several luxury beauty brands were recognised for eco-design efforts in packaging at the ADF&PCD Paris innovation awards​, including Yves Saint Laurent for its refillable Serum Reboot bottles and Gucci for its Satin and Sheer aluminium packaged lipsticks.

Hermès aims to grow 2020 revenues

Hermès recently posted its full-year 2019 results, reporting total revenues of €6.88bn and a consolidated net income of €1.52bn for the year, up 9% on 2018.

And the company said the outlook for 2020 remained positive: “In the medium term, despite economic, geopolitical and monetary uncertainties around the world, the group confirms an ambitious goal for revenue growth at constant exchange rates.”

Related topics: Brand Innovation, Color Cosmetics

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