SINGAPORE – The CEO of Luxasia Group breezed into his office for our interview after a meeting. But I couldn’t help noticing something that stood out in Dr Wolfgang Baier’s all-blue outfit: his colourful Nike sneakers. It was a Friday and he was dressed casually, in blue jeans, a blue shirt and blazer.
I asked if he always wears funky shoes and he proceeded to show me his socks, which are as colourful as his sneakers. Fun. Beyond that, he is all business as he answered questions from this Yahoo Lifestyle Southeast Asia reporter.
Baier has served as their CEO since August 2016 and in 2019, the family business, which was founded by Patrick Chong, experienced a double-digit sales growth in their brick-and-mortar stores, as well as more than 30 times growth in their e-commerce efforts in three years.
Since 1986, they have brought us brands from all over the world including Bvlgari, Guerlain, Hermès, La Prairie, Peter Thomas Roth, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, and SK-II. In addition, the group has led successful joint ventures with the likes of Elizabeth Arden, LVMH Group, and Yves Rocher.
On some of the most popular niche and cult brands that beauty fans here and in the region love, Baier pointed to the Diptyque bottle on the table and said, “You see one already here and Diptyque has beautiful fragrances and candles. Another one is Byredo which comes from Scandinavia and we also have Maison Francis Kurkdjian from France and Creed (from England). In the skincare category, there are Evelom, 3Lab and Jack Black. We also have cult makeup brands like By Terry and a couple Korean brands (such as Jung Saem Mool). We have quite a wide range from home brands, fragrances to skincare and makeup.”
Also, they are Southeast Asia’s only multi-label niche and cult beauty ‘omnistore’ concept, where brands are made available on both offline and online platforms.
The third luxury beauty concept store, escentials at ION Orchard was launched in December 2019. There, beauty fans can find cult New York City favourite D.S. & DURGA, avant-garde perfumer Frederic Malle and luxury fragrance and cosmetics range from By Kilian.
As 88% of people born since 1997 are saying they want brand experiences from digital and physical channels, the need for brands to provide an omnichannel retail experience is ever more important.
“They always go online to see what there is out there. Education and learning is very much online. People educate themselves and share their stories online. You need to be there to engage them to buy something online or engage them to come to the brick-and-mortar store and follow-up with a nice experience to convert them (into customers),” said Baier, who hails from Austria and was previously the CEO of SingPost Group before he made the switch to luxury brands.
He also shared with us the outlook on trends that will shape Asia's fragrance and beauty industry in 2020.
For luxury fragrance, they are seeing the trend of layering of different scents for a more individualistic scent profile, the rise in popularity for travel-friendly, compact-sized fragrances and genderless fragrances – focusing on evocative themes and experience association, as opposed to gender-based categorisation.
For luxury make-up, inclusive beauty – all shades and colours – matters as well as multi-efficacious products such as foundation with sun-care and moisturising properties or primer that doubles up as a setting spray and a hydrating mist. We will also be seeing a lot more natural by-products and recyclable ingredients for products such as using coffee grounds for facial scrubs.
Baier professed that he has a 7-step skincare routine. “Well, this morning – 8 – because I was a bit tired and I had a mask on,” he laughed.
“I love masking,” he continued, crediting his complexion to one of the important steps of any skincare regime.
Apparently, he is also a huge fan of fragrances, counting some of the brands in Luxasia’s portfolio in his arsenal.
escentials ION is located at 2 Orchard Turn, #03-27, Singapore 238801.
In addition to the latest ION orchard boutique, the brand has two other stores located in Orchard Road – the flagship boutique at escentials Paragon, and a shop-in-shop concept at escentials TANGS at TANGS Plaza.