Banking on skin science

South Korean beauty brands are all the rage now and Elizabeth Arden's chief executive Scott Beattie says they have proven to be strong competitors in the Asian skincare market.

But he says the American beauty brand has what it takes to capture a fat slice of the pie, thanks to its strength in skincare technology built up over its 104-year-old history.

In the pipeline is a professional line of high-performing products called Elizabeth Arden Pro, and there are plans for it to be stocked at the clinics of plastic surgeons and dermatologists, as well as medi-spas and Elizabeth Arden's signature Red Door Spas.

Mr Beattie, who was in Singapore recently, declined to reveal more in an exclusive interview with Urban, except to say that the professional range would comprise skincare, spa products, dermabrasion products and mineral make-up.

There are also plans to open Red Door Spas in Asia, although he could not give a date for the launch.

The move to take the brand forward is a perfect marriage of its two strongest pillars of the Elizabeth Arden brand.

"Our heritage is science and spa-based skincare," says the 55-year-old American.

Elizabeth Arden has been a pioneer in the use of idebenone and ceramides in skincare products.

Today, the brand's iconic products include the Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant - concocted by Arden in 1930 to calm skin - the Ceramide Capsules Youth Restoring Serum and the Prevage line of anti-ageing treatments.

The Prevage collection of products are made with idebenone, which has been clinically proven to be the single most powerful antioxidant. Tested under a scientific measure of antioxidants, the Environmental Protection Factor protocol, idebenone scored the highest: 95 out of 100 points.

American beautician Elizabeth Arden founded the brand in 1910. She opened her chain of salons that offered beauty treatments in luxurious settings across Europe in 1921. Currently, there are 30 Red Door Spas and the first Red Door Salon is located at 691 Fifth Avenue in New York. It remains the brand's global flagship.

To further beef up its business in Asia, Elizabeth Arden is focusing on educating consumers on the brand and its products through its own website and retail partners' sites such as Sephora.

"Asian consumers like to do their research from multiple sources and find out what is relevant to them before they make a purchase," says Mr Beattie, who has been with the brand since 2002.

He adds that the popularity of social media and mobile gadgets has levelled the playing field for beauty brands big and small.

"Mobile devices and digital information are a great win for brands such as ours," he says.

"We might not have the same level of counter presence in a store or have the same level of distribution as the other brands, but we have the opportunity to provide information on the Elizabeth Arden brand and products even when we cannot do that through the beauty adviser."

He also observes that educating customers on the quality and efficacy of the brand's products is especially important in Asia.

"Consumers here have an advanced understanding of skincare maintenance and health to begin with. They have a lot more disposable income compared with some other markets and are more willing to spend on products at a higher price point as long as they believe in its science.

"In the United States, customers will try any product based on advertising and they are not particularly loyal to one brand. And in Europe, without generalising too much, they are loyal to brands that they can connect themselves to, even when the brand is not terribly relevant when it comes to skincare technology."

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