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H&M Beauty: A story that is just beginning

By Esteban G Villanueva

Photo: H&M Beauty

The Swedish purveyors of fashion are venturing into makeup and we can't wait to see what's in store (literally)

Look into your closet. Yes, go, now.

Among the brands that take up real estate in your wardrobe there is a high chance the names 'Hennes & Mauritz' are carefully signed across many of your favourite garments — either them be eternal basics or more trendy statement seasonal pieces.

Founded in 1947, H&M has become a staple of our wardrobes and it's hard to imagine our lives without the Swedish retailer. With that in mind, two years ago, they decided that just catering to the closet wasn’t enough to satiate their customers demand for a 360 experience when they entered an H&M store. Naturally they embarked into exploring a new sartorial territory — the beauty cupboard.

“The beauty market is rapidly growing and on track to match the fashion market. According to Statista, we know that for every 100 euros a woman invests in fashion, she also invests 71 euros in beauty products”, says Cathrine Wigzell, General Manager, H&M Beauty. “While beauty is not something new at the company, we made a strategic decision two years ago to invest in beauty as a stand-alone organisation to meet the increasing demand from our customers. Today, H&M Beauty is part of H&M Lifestyle Brands, which also includes H&M Home and H&M Sport.” Talk about a whole immersive universe. That being said, offering a complete integral experience is what H&M looks for, that way every customer that enters one of their stores or their virtual flagships leaves with a complete look across fashion, beauty, and even their home.

Photo: H&M Beauty

What does it entail when a fashion giant decides to delve into beauty as a new venture? For H&M Beauty its been a dual undertaking; they offer both products under their own private label as well as a curated assortment of products from existing brands as well as more niche ones that appeal to their audience.

“While H&M Beauty is still a small part of the H&M enterprise, we are rapidly expanding due to the industry’s great growth potential and the customer support. Our private label collection exists in the majority of H&M’s 75 markets and our curated external beauty assortment currently exists in only 5 markets, so the opportunity to provide our full beauty experience to even more global customers is enormous”, continues Wigzell. Pausing the history a bit to quickly go over some basic terms, when referring to private labels and their collections, these are products that are both designed and produced by H&M in direct collaboration with developers, factories, and producer, which in turn allows the brand to conceptualise and bring to life their own products according to their creative views, wishes, and needs — similar to the way they create their own fashion and homeware collections.

Jumping back into the story, opening up a new venture is something that is always challenging for any corporation, big or small, but H&M’s approach was to invest in a good team that spearheaded the creation of the right products, with the right communications and strategies in order to really ensure customer satisfaction. “Over the past year we’ve invested in building a beauty organisation supported by an experienced team across business expansion, sales, marketing, and product development," says Wigzell, "It has been an intense, yet rewarding, year as we have launched in new markets like Italy and Denmark, gained exclusive partnerships with external brands, and created exciting shopping experiences both in store and online. However, for us this is just the beginning of our journey and we see ourselves as a small start-up within the big H&M family.”

Photo: H&M Beauty

Photo: H&M Beauty

Wigzell explains that the alignment of the venture is inline with the whole group’s ideals. “Our purpose and why we exist is the same as for H&M: we make it possible for everyone to look, feel and do good. As for beauty, our aim is to throw the beauty party that no one wants to miss and, in the long-term, we aim to be in every beauty bag around the world”, which in turn explains the assortment they currently work with, one that — while focusing on makeup — still offers everyone one needs and more, from nail care to tools, bags to brushes and even best sellers from external brands, a growing part within their business model.

Beauty is and will always be more than just a business (and I’m willing to fight anyone that says the contrary); it’s a lifestyle that involves creativity, imagination and yes, even some numbers. But especially, on the creative side, Wigzell reminisces on how it has been to develop H&M’s own line of cupboard goodies.

“It’s been amazing. Since we are a big global player, we can attract some of the best brand managers and develop products at the same factories as market leaders and premium brands, which allows us to make high-quality products that are both trendy and sustainable, while remaining at an accessible price point. We always seek to keep the link with fashion and see how we can complete an entire look in the best possible way.” At the same time, this allows them to control the production aspects of their products, meaning they don’t have to compromise quality or performance for sustainability or price. “Sustainability is at the core of the H&M brand and the same goes for H&M Beauty. In everything we do, we consider how both our brand and our customers can reduce their impact by investing in sustainable solutions and actions wherever possible.”

Photo: H&M Beauty

As H&M Beauty continues to expand and reach new markets, there are still big things coming from the venture, and while most of it still behind closed doors in the depth of the factory, according to Wigzell, we can expect a lot, “everything from new trendy brands, new products within the private label assortment, and plenty of beauty inspiration.”

We are applying our primer as we speak.

Follow H&M's beauty journey and discover more here.


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