Contouring Crowd

Germany's makeup retailer Douglas prepares to take on Sephora

Portrait of young woman applying lip gloss model released Symbolfoto PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNx
Gasp! A millennial without a phone! Source: Imago

Special brushes for contouring, liquid eyeliner for making smoky-looking eyes, and an array of perfumes all keep groups of young women flocking to retailers like Douglas, a German perfume and makeup chain.

Millennials wear more makeup than their mothers, according to Douglas’ new CEO, Tina Müller, a trend, she says that is fed by the prevalence of YouTube makeup tutorials. “That’s why we will focus strongly on this target group with our strategy update,” said Ms. Müller.

That’s not the only change now underway at Douglas’ head office in Düsseldorf. Since Ms. Müller took up her post four months ago, she has replaced several members of the management team and has established herself as someone willing to take chances to take the chain — which consists of over 2,500 stores in 19 countries — in a new direction. “We want to be bold and try things out – even if it is not always successful,” she said.

Of course, if the company wants to stay relevant, it has little choice. “The overall market for cosmetics in Germany is stagnating, and at €5.5 billion ($6.77 billion), it isn’t very large either,” said Gerrit Heinemann, an expert in commerce at HS Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences.

The biggest challenge, Mr. Heinemann explained, is that half of the market consists of products customers can find in other kinds of stores, including drugstores, discounters and online retailers. Competitors are well-positioned to take away market share by engaging in price wars, Mr. Heinemann said.

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