It’s not easy to make a comeback. Jo Malone - who sold her business to Estée Lauder in 1999 and stepped down as creative director in 2006 - knows this more than anyone.

However, with Jo Loves, a passion project that brought Jo back to the world of luxury fragrance after a five-year hiatus, the entrepreneur has once again found success.

So, how exactly has Jo created a successful brand second time round? Jo is headlining this year's Festival of Marketing, where she will share her insight and expertise. In the meantime, here’s a run-down of how Jo Loves has created a distinct and memorable retail experience in the luxury fragrance market.

Creating a distinct brand

When Jo Loves was first launched in 2011, its branding was deliberately designed to be different from that of the original Jo Malone company. However, since realising that the decision to use bright red packaging was a mistake, it has taken a number of years for the brand to find and establish its own identity. 

So, branding aside, what is the difference between Jo Malone and Jo Loves? 

On first glance, perhaps not that much. Then again that is not surprising considering both companies were borne out of Jo’s lifelong love of fragrance. What does set Jo Loves apart – both from her former business and other luxury brands like it – is the ability to draw in consumers with meaningful and evocative storytelling.

Everything from the current packaging (which includes the ‘red dot’ hallmark) to the product copywriting is a reflection of Jo herself. Take the below example of product copy for its original fragrance, Pomelo.

(Click to view page)

Written from a first-person perspective, it tells the story behind the product, as well as what it means to Jo. In turn, this creates a much more personal connection to consumers – which is incredibly important considering the highly personal nature of scent. 

If you compare its tone to other high-end brands, such as Chanel (see below), it feels much easier to relate to Jo’s evocative description of ‘memories of summer holidays’ than Chanel’s ‘essence of a bold, free woman’.

A 360-degree experience

Another point of difference for Jo Loves is the experience that surrounds the core product. 

Its flagship store in London’s Belgravia is built on experiential elements, including a ‘fragrance tapas’ – which allows consumers to learn about and sample multiple fragrances - and a candle shot studio, which layers scents to create bespoke candles.

Meanwhile, the store also places an emphasis on visual merchandising, working with artists to create intricate and show-stopping window displays.

According to Jo, this kind of in-store engagement with customers is invaluable. In fact, she has previously said that Jo Loves generates a 92% conversation rate when shoppers are immersed in the wider retail experience.

This is also the reason why we will not be seeing countless Jo Loves stores or concessions popping up in future. Instead of mass expansion, its plans are focused on small boutiques that will be able to replicate the unique concepts found in its original London flagship. 

It’s important to note that its boutique-style does not mean it is unattainable, either. While it is certainly a high-end brand, Jo Loves deliberately designs its retail experience to appeal to people of all ages and budgets, taking an inclusive approach rather than one based on outright exclusivity.

Embracing social media

One way Jo Loves maximises its reach is on social media, mainly using visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to engage with an online audience. And while it has just a single store, it is social media that has allowed it to create global awareness of the brand.

As well as the main ecommerce site, Jo Loves has particularly embraced social media as a way to establish its brand voice, communicating its vision and values via these digital channels. Its Instagram feed mirrors the brand’s subtle and sophisticated aesthetic, while its brand messaging conveys an empowering and positive tone of voice. 

While social media undoubtedly plays a big role in Jo Loves’ marketing, it is not the only strategy used. The brand still relies on print media, often combining this with social media activity in the run up to product launches in order to create the biggest impact possible, as well as to ensure its message reaches a varied demographic.

Personalisation 

According to research, 62% of shoppers say they buy more or more often when they receive a personalised retail experience. For Jo Loves, personalisation is hugely important, with the brand offering bespoke and personalised products in order to strengthen its bond with customers.

Personalisation is another way Jo Loves creates a point of difference. By enabling customers to layer their own scents or engrave names onto products, it is able to offer something unique to each and every individual. At the same time, this has also allowed the brand to expand its gifting category, and focus more heavily on wedding and event-related products.

Meanwhile, the brand has also seen success with seasonal and limited edition products. A couple of years ago, its Christmas Trees collection completely sold out before December had even got under way, and while its limited amount of stock was regrettable, this no doubt contributed to the hype and excitement surrounding the return of its Christmas range in 2016.

Innovation and experimentation

Since opening its flagship store in 2013, Jo Loves has gone on to expand its retail and ecommerce capabilities. As well as selling its Pomelo fragrance on Net a Porter (enabling the brand to sell worldwide), it has also entered the world of travel retail with an exclusive partnership with Emirates. 

More recently, Jo Loves has also experimented with events in the hospitality industry, recently collaborating with London restaurant, Bluebird, for a celebration of the famous Chelsea Flower Show. Working with head barman, Egzon Kastrati, Jo created a menu of cocktails inspired by her favourite scents. A continuation of the theatre found in the Jo Loves retail store, the collaboration is yet another example of its ‘brand as an experience’ philosophy.

So, experiential elements aside, how is the brand keeping consumers invested in its core product?

Jo Loves recently launched the Fragrance Paintbrush – a new trademarked product that allows people to paint on a scent instead of spraying it. The technique was originally used for its aforementioned fragrance tapas service, before the brand recognised that it could revolutionise the way people apply perfume.

The story of how the product was created is a reflection of Jo Loves' overall journey so far, with success stemming from the founder’s passion, creativity, and desire to give consumers something to remember.

Jo Malone is headlining the Festival of Marketing 2017. Book your passes now.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 30 June, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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