THG Ingenuity x Elemis
Partnering with the L’Occitane Group and Elemis to deliver international DTC expansion
“A game changer in speed and cost efficiency to market; service to end customers, and delivering the dream of Elemis.com in a box globally, profitably and successfully.”
Sean Harrington, co-founder and CEO at Elemis and executive director at L’Occitane International S.A.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated changes in consumers’ interactions with brands. Although direct-to-consumer (DTC) retailing had been explored extensively in the lead up to 2020, the last 18 months have driven a fundamental shift in the suitability of DTC for many brands across the globe.
Most notably, consumer demand has skyrocketed. This has had a material impact on order level DTC economics; customers are easier to acquire in DTC channels than they were pre-pandemic and are therefore more likely to continue buying from that channel over time. This unlocks the potential of DTC for brands whose previous customer acquisition strategies would have been too costly.
One such brand that has taken advantage of the global opportunities presented by DTC is Elemis. Pre-pandemic, the British beauty retailer already had a well-established and successful DTC strategy. It had strong-performing operations in its two key markets of the US and UK, but identified an opportunity to roll out the channel at speed in markets with lower levels of existing penetration.
In order to deliver this transformation, the brand partnered with THG Ingenuity, the technology services division of THG. THG Ingenuity was tasked with delivering an end-to-end solution for Elemis’ international commerce. The unique proposition — which provides a fully managed service across technology, fulfilment, trading, marketing and customer services — significantly lowers the barriers to entry for brands considering DTC. This allows for a rapidly scalable and efficient method of entry. And it has been proven by the global success of THG’s own brands, all of which are powered by THG Ingenuity.
Scaling DTC globally, at speed
From the start of the partnership in 2020, THG Ingenuity and Elemis worked together to strategically map the brand’s international rollout, plotting a course to bring Elemis DTC to global markets at speed. After launching the first Elemis site in Germany in May 2020 as a pilot market, the partnership built on the learnings gained to roll out 15 further sites across Europe and APAC.
This significantly accelerated the brand’s digital expansion plans, condensing what was an initial five-year strategy into a period of just 10 months.
“It’s been an incredible learning curve, and fascinating to be involved in the process.”
ELEMIS’ GLOBAL PRESIDENT AND CO-FOUNDER, NOELLA GABRIEL
France and Italy
Spain, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore
Belgium, Poland, Thailand and Malaysia
Japan and Switzerland
THG Ingenuity powers each Elemis site with its end-to-end infrastructure across multiple elements of the proposition. This extends from its tech platform to fully managed trading and marketing services, as well as fulfilment, using THG’s own warehouse management system and network of distribution centres.
The creation of individual, fully localised ecommerce sites also played a key role in the success and speed of the rollout. To do this, THG Ingenuity capitalised on the strategic expertise gained from launching THG’s own brands — including market leaders MyProtein and LOOKFANTASTIC — over the past 17 years.
All of this has played a part in enabling Elemis to gain a strong foothold in international markets, without significant up-front investment in infrastructure - ultimately leading to incremental revenue across the board.
Using DTC to drive tangible customer insight
The trading, marketing and UX elements of the partnership have allowed for rapid data collection in new markets. In turn, this has enabled Elemis to generate customer records and learnings from an operational perspective.
Two areas were particularly valuable in delivering insight:
CUSTOMER ACQUISITION AND DATA
In addition to generating more than 50,000 new customer records in EU markets since launch, THG IQ — the platform’s customer insight and data solution — has been used to provide insights into Elemis’ consumers in new markets and the way they behave.
The pace of expansion has uncovered learnings for Elemis in new markets, with trading levers, marketing campaigns and even fulfilment models iterated and tested continuously. The adaptability and appetite for growth on both sides of the partnership has enabled rapid optimisation of the model, with decision-making driven by the data obtained.
THG INGENUITY X ELEMIS
As the partnership develops, there is a huge potential for Elemis’ DTC sites to bring value to other channels by acting as a real-time barometer of customer behaviour. This can be achieved through further integration of the data and insight gleaned from DTC into the broader Elemis business
Furthermore, as THG Ingenuity's global operations continue to evolve, the capacity to work with customers in all territories will increase. DTC will therefore play an ever more important and profitable role in Elemis’ global growth.