86Champs; the immersive sensory experience created when two brand universes collide

Seeking to make customer experience central to their retail strategy, L’Occitane partnered with renowned French pastry chef Pierre Hermé to create a one-of-a-kind flagship Concept Store; a luxurious temple of pure indulgence and sensorial pleasure. ‘86Champs’ was launched in 2018 and is located along the famous thoroughfare, the Champs Élysées in Paris. The example of experiential retail is a perfect way to showcase the evolution of two exquisite brands – and two remarkable men – via their shared passions and values. The omnichannel retail experience celebrates human connection and takes consumers through ‘a welcoming and refined place where objects, scents and tastes express osmosis between the two Maisons’.

86Champs utilises a soft colour palette comprising shades of green, pink blush and orange cream inspired by Cezanne’s paintings.

 

L’Occitane en Provence and Pierre Hermé share a deep passion for using natural ingredients, expertise and know-how; their partnership being no surprise to those who know and love both esteemed French brands. This collaboration, however, is first and foremost a story of an encounter between two friends. Olivier Baussan and Pierre Hermé began crafting their first project back in 2015 – an exclusive and extremely successful beauty range composed of three captivating perfumed collections. Fast-forward to 2017, connected by their creativity, encouraged by their previous collaborative success and collided with a last-minute real estate opportunity, the duo impulsively decided to “just mix it all together again”.

 

Named after its street number, 86Champs brings together three things France is most revered: fragrance, food and the pleasure element. The vision was to bring the essence of Provence, the region which inspires the brands, to Paris through a unique, avant-garde concept-store. The strategy behind the retail space, known as the ‘Sunshine Concept’, was not to provide a retail space filled with delicious sweet treats and indulgent beauty products but to become a ‘haven’ that activates all five senses. The development of this flagship store is part of an overarching experiential marketing strategy, where the partnership is aiming to achieve sustainable and long-term growth of the brands through unique engagements with consumers.

 

A SENSORIAL EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER

 

L’Occitane products are stationed throughout the store, with installations placing emphasis on the history and provenance of its primary ingredients and the products created from them. The Sunshine Concept strategy informs the store’s layout by simplifying navigation and utilising the brand’s signature yellow in a modern way. At the front, a Provençal fountain is set to highlight the genesis of the brand and complement the ‘boho chic’ interior. Display islands incorporating some of their primary ingredients were also placed as shopping circuits, creating themes throughout the store. This enables consumers not just to purchase items, but allows them to engage with the brand on a deeper level through samplings, to learn about infusion and distillation of essential oils, and to get informed about L’Occitane’s sustainable cultivation initiatives. 

 

86Champs adds an olfactory twist by including an essential oils distillery in the open-plan space.

 

In an attempt to keep up with the changes in the beauty industry, L’Occitane continuously introduces exclusive creations with Pierre Hermé, creating ever-evolving connections that bridge their respective worlds. For both creators, fragrance encompasses pleasure, so it was only natural that they embarked on a journey of finding the perfect scent which organically led to the creation of a collection of eight Eaux de Parfum sold exclusively at the Parisian store. At the heart of 86Champs, there is a station in which customers can engrave their perfume bottles, giving them a visible personalised signature to commemorate their visit to the store.

 

Fed by a central watering point, each ‘garden’ presents a fan-favourite ingredient in a new light; creating unique thematic areas throughout the store.

 

For Baussan and Hermé, 86Champs presented the chance to realise a life-long dream; creating an unexpected dialogue between two distinct brands that draw on shared values and techniques. Whilst perfumery and pastry-making may have some affinities, coaxing retail to cohabit with a restaurant presented a tricky proposition. The interrelation of elements demonstrated to be crucial; for both men, inspiration started with the sourcing of ingredients. It was essential to focus and illustrate how both brands, despite their differences, were similar in how they transformed natural ingredients into precious “objects”.

 

The 86Champs restaurant offers a savoury interlude between dessert courses.

 

The Parisian store boasts a gastronomic experiment. It offers a coffee station, the menu of which Hermé himself curated by presenting 16 ways one can drink his three favourite varieties of coffee. The central dessert bar looks like an abstraction of a pastry, its spectacular top being a lighting installation made of 1,000 hand blown glass globes. The customers can watch the team of experienced chefs prepare the desserts whilst they happily elaborate on the process for those who are interested in discussing all things pastries. The concept successfully merges the notion of pastry shop pastries and pastry-making processes of luxurious restaurants. Whilst desserts and coffee were expected features of the retail concept, Pierre cheekily developed five restaurant menus, the catch being that all led with a dessert list and the savoury options were included solely to “accompany desserts”.

 

The Pierre Hermé macaron bar includes his reinterpretations of the triumphant trio of scents he composed alongside L’Occitane in their first 2015 creative collaboration.

 

AN INVESTMENT IN EXPERIENTIAL RETAIL

 

Through the 86Champs store, L’Occitane and Pierre Hermé were able to create unique and memorable experiences which enabled consumers to connect with the brand in a holistic, meaningful way. While providing an unparalleled sensory experience for consumers, 86Champs also showed tangible benefits to the brands’ growth. A 6.9% sellout of L’Occitane products in France was credited to the establishment of the flagship store. The L’Occitane Group also reported a net sale of €103 million in France, noting an 0.8% growth from the previous year. The flagship store produced key learnings which will help inform the overarching experiential retail strategy, the ‘Sunshine Concept’, as well as the evolution of the brands’ brick-and-mortar stores. By providing customers with a unique brand encounter that is able to support a sustainable brand growth strategy, the L’Occitane and Pierre Hermé partnership is helping pave the way forward for innovative retail design and is a source of inspiration for aspiring retail brands.

 

Credited to the 86Champs flagship store, L’Occitane reported a 6.9% sellout of products within the year of opening the store.

 

NEED HELP?

 

If you need help making customer experience central to your retail strategy, we’d like to offer you a complimentary strategy call with our Managing Director and Head of Strategy, Grant Davidson. Having nearly 30 years of industry experience working with groundbreaking brands, Grant has the experience and knowledge necessary to identify your core brand strategy and communicate it effectively.

 

Written by Grant Davidson
Grant is the founding partner and head of strategy at Davidson Branding. Over his 30 year career, Grant has developed world’s best practice knowledge and expertise through his studies at Harvard Business School and his experience working with global leading brands.
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