American skincare brand Origins has opened its Singapore flagship store at Ion Orchard.
It is designed for customers to have an immersive and personalised shopping experience, where they can learn about the brand's heritage and products at the store's Explorer's Studio and Botanist's Laboratory areas.
Its first flagship store in Asia with the new Discovery Retail Concept opened in China at the end of 2013.
Asked why it took so long to open a store here, given that Origins has been sold here since 2000, Mr Stephane De La Faverie, 41, its senior vice-president and global general manager, says the brand had to make sure it had the right model and strategy before doing so.
"We tweaked a few things along the way with our store in China and now we're sure we have something that people really love," he says.
Singapore's energy and packed events calendar are reasons it chose to open here.
He says: "There are a lot of tourists here and some markets in the region are highly dependant on the Chinese traveller, but it's very dynamic in Singapore because local consumers buy a lot of products.
"The retail environment here is superb. In a few days' time, you'll have the Formula One Grand Prix, so there's always so much happening."
The Singapore market was also recently named Best Market of the Year by the Origins New York office for its financial performance, under the small market category.
In the past three years, growth has doubled year on year, putting Singapore right behind China as the fastest growing market in the region.
And the brand has achieved this even with the proliferation of Korean skincare brands, some of which are direct competitors.
Mr De La Faverie, who has been with parent company Estee Lauder for 41/2 years, welcomes the competition.
He says: "There is a lot of instant gratification that is coming from the Korean brands and it's also one of the reasons that explains the explosion of the mask category all around the world.
"A good mask gives you instant gratification, which is good news for us as it gives us the opportunity to play in this area."
He adds that it is part of Origins' social media strategy to make the brand fun for millennial customers.
"Make-up can be fun, but skincare isn't necessarily so," he says. "There's a big trend of multi-masking now and it's a good way to animate things."
With greater public awareness of the green and eco-friendly lifestyle, Origins has found itself in a sweet spot and is taking advantage of it.
The brand debuted its speciality stores across the United States in 1990 and its products are based on science and nature.
He says: "We haven't changed the story of the brand. We simply have a better way with the visuals and expression. Once consumers understand the brand and feel it's for them, it's easier for them to commit to a purchase. Ultimately, what we're looking for is for customers who love our lifestyle and have loyalty to the brand."
Even the way the products are displayed is crucial in conveying the brand's story to the consumer, which is why the freestanding store is so important.
"The customers have their space, and it gives them a deeper understanding of the brand and what we've been giving back to the environment ," he says.
While the Singapore store carries the full range of products, the brand tries to be locally relevant and takes into consideration the different skincare regimes in the region.
For example, the Dr Andrew Weil Treatment Lotion does extremely well in Asia, but not so in America and Europe, where toners are more widely used.
Therefore, the same product would be categorised differently to suit the market.
Mr De La Faverie says that the experience will remain the same in other standalone stores.
"What we want to make sure is that when you're at a freestanding Origins store in Singapore, London or New York, the story is the same. It's one brand with one story."
Customers can enjoy complimentary skin analysis and facial services at the store, just like they can at the seven Origins counters in departmental stores here.
Prices range from $30 for the Peace Of Mind on-the-spot relief sensory treatment (15ml) to $160 for a Plantscription anti-ageing serum (50ml).
The best-selling Origins product in Singapore, the Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion (200ml), retails for $62.