A world leader in beauty and cosmetics has brought Hong Kong a sophisticated new skincare concept — dermocosmetics — providing consumers with exciting new products while at the same time opening up a host of professional opportunities to jobseekers.
"We distinguish ourselves from most other brands on the market by providing customers with dermo-cosmetics," says Bernice Chan, marketing manager, VICHY. "Our products, paired with professional pharmacist advice, are mainly available at the point of sales including our brand concept store and counters at selected pharmacies."
While skincare brands traditionally tend to focus on results by portraying images of beautiful models with stunning skin, the company's approach is different. "The scientific and dermatological studies behind our products give us a competitive edge," Ms Chan explains. "We want customers to realise that our level of skincare professionalism is exceptional. Since we are able to demonstrate our in-depth knowledge, they trust our ability to help solve their skin problems."
One of the fastest-growing brands incorporated in the world's largest cosmetics company L'Oréal, VICHY was founded in 1931 in the town of Vichy in France as the result of a partnership between a dermatologist and a cosmetician. The town is famous for its many thermal spa water sources. The highly mineralised spa water is the basic component of all VICHY skincare products.
"The efficacy of VICHY's thermal spa water has been clinically proven," Ms Chan remarks. "The water is officially recognised by the French Academy of Medicine for its therapeutic properties in revitalising the skin. It is not a mere marketing gimmick"
VICHY has grown into the leading skincare brand in European pharmacies, and was quick to gain popularity among pharmacies around the world. Three years ago, VICHY's arrival in Hong Kong introduced a number of new concepts, says Cecilia Liu, corporate communications manager, L'Oréal Hong Kong Ltd. "The Hong Kong store was the brand's first concept store, which differs from an ordinary store in the sense that it promotes the importance of skin health and professional advice versus merely product selling."
The store aims to project a sense of professionalism and pragmatism rather than just glamour and beauty. "Customers at the VICHY concept store are offered professional skin diagnoses by a qualified pharmacist. This is an essential step before a customer starts using our products. Our business approach is driven by customer needs and professional advice," Ms Chan says.
VICHY products are also distributed via leading Hong Kong pharmacy chains. "We target health-conscious consumers through our use of technology and our emphasis on the provision of quality information. The pharmacy distribution channel reinforces our position as a dermo-cosmetics healthcare brand," Ms Chan says.
The pharmacy skincare market is growing due to society's increased affluence and level of education. Men's skincare has also taken off. In addition to the thermal spa water component, VICHY products are based on sophisticated research and technology. These include acne care and hydration to whitening and anti-aging, plus a complete men's line. "We have research centres worldwide to accommodate the specific needs of different skin types. Our Shanghai-based centre, for example, has been set up for studies related to Asian skin," Ms Liu points out. "The research centres are responsible for conducting skin-related studies while all VICHY products are produced in France."
VICHY customers can also enjoy the services provided by the brand's dermo-cosmetic skincare advisers, who help customers to select the appropriate products for their skin types. All VICHY's dermo-advisers undergo rigorous product knowledge and skincare training.
"The dermatological knowledge behind VICHY products is professional and comprehensive," explains Quean Yiu, sales manager, VICHY. "Dermo-advisers must have a thorough understanding of the skin and how VICHY products match different skin needs before they can provide customers with objective advice. Their service is key to the VICHY customer experience. Advisers must be highly knowledgeable in order to gain the confidence of their customers, who come to us for something different and professional," Ms Yiu elaborates.
VICHY's dermo-advisers also undergo customer service training. "They are not 'selling' a product, because they will only recommend what a customer needs based on the skin assessment. They also follow up the progress of the customer," says Ms Yiu.
Career prospects are promising for VICHY dermo-advisers. Since VICHY is part of the L'Oréal family, staff members are exposed to the latest developments in the skincare and cosmetics industry. The company offers a generous remuneration scheme, as well as the possibility to move up the career ladder with a range of management opportunities.
Ms Yiu believes the key to building a successful career in the dermo-cosmetics industry is "to be passionate about health and beauty and be willing to learn", as the market is becoming more knowledge-driven. "Excellent customer service skills are also vital," she concludes.