Fueled by a growing social media presence, Kiko Milano is taking the beauty world by storm

Founded in 1997, Kiko Milano (Kiko) is a renowned cosmetics company with a physical and online presence, boasting over 1000 stores in 65 countries across the globe. Originating in Bergamo, Italy, the company remains under the ownership of the Percassi family, with an aim to provide high-quality yet affordable products, ideally purchased from a fun, engaging in-store experience.

Having appointed a new CEO, Simone Dominici, in 2022, the business embarked on its vision to expand and accelerate around the globe, elevating its core products and improving the product quality and packaging beyond consumer expectations. Kiko’s growing social media presence, most notably on TikTok, has propelled the company to the forefront of the industry.

“We operate within a unique model that brings unbelievably high-quality products to consumers at accessible prices,” begins Paul Devin, Country Director for the UK and Ireland. “We exploded onto the market, entering the UK just over 11 years ago with multiple stores in London. Today, we have over 1000 stores in our portfolio, and we’ve just been named as the third fastest growing beauty brand in the world by Women’s Wear Daily.”

With a historic focus on in-store experiences, the business is evolving in the online space while continuing to improve its engaging and personalized physical experiences. “Our stores offer a beautiful combination of an exciting environment, great customer service, high-quality products, and affordable pricing,” Paul explains. “We want customers to feel welcomed and engaged, with initiatives such as offering a ten-minute “Make Up & Go” free beauty consultation and application that helps provide that perfect instore “instagrammable” moment or TikTok content.

Next-level connectivity
“We’re very customer-centric in our thinking, so our stores aim to be bright, fun, vibrant, and all things high energy. We were one of the first beauty retailers to feature video screen walls and music in our stores, for example, bringing something new and relevant to the market. The model of our stores means our baseline continuity products are displayed on the walls around the store, with tables in the middle and front of the store, which feature new products and collections.

“We have an amazing in-store conversion rate with an average of around 33 percent, meaning one in three customers that engage with our stores are making a purchase. The next step for us is to build brand awareness to make us accessible to more customers. Social media, particularly TikTok, has been crucial to building brand awareness and engagement, especially with the younger generation.

“In particular, our 3d Hydra lip gloss has become a social media sensation. It’s a softening lip gloss available in 30 colors and a variety of finishes, with contemporary packaging and an abundance of five-star reviews. It has been instrumental in the growth we’ve seen on TikTok; we’ve grown from 300 million impressions to 1.4 billion in just 12 months, many of which have been driven by this amazing lip product.

“The 3d Hydra lip gloss is one of our ten core products that cover the categories of eyes, face, lips, nails, and skin. These are the products we’re proudest of when it comes to innovation, especially considering their affordable price points. From moisturizers and eye creams to serums and masks, we’re focusing our attention on skincare collections moving forward, with products that will give some of the heavyweight, more premium luxury skincare brands a run for their money.”

In the online world, on the other hand, Kiko is exploring new strategies. “We’re now operating what we call unified commerce, as opposed to e-commerce, to ensure that our direct-to-consumer website is linked to the consumer and how they shop,” Paul explains. “We’re also making in-store experiences relevant using innovative technology that we’ve been testing in the Middle East.

“Such technology will enable our beauty advisers to find a customer’s profile on a bespoke, handheld, phone-style device. The device can instantly identify a customer’s purchasing history, unlock individual special promotions, and even offers a seamless checkout experience without having to wait in a queue. Although this kind of technology has been rolled out at corporations like Apple, we’re the first beauty retailer to trial this next-level connectivity, which we hope to roll out in many other stores.”

Partnerships in the pipeline
Like many businesses in the retail or fashion industry, Kiko is embracing the power of strategic collaborations with some of the world’s most renowned brands. “We’re learning a lot from the fashion industry, which sort of sparked the concept behind collaborations, and embracing the juxtaposition such partnerships create,” Paul explains. “Such collaborations are fun, quirky, and sometimes nostalgic, like our ‘The Little Mermaid’ collection in collaboration with Disney.

“It was interesting to see the demographic of consumers that interacted with the Disney collection. At first, it attracted seasoned makeup customers, as well as new customers who love the nostalgia concept of the collection. Once the movie was released, however, we saw younger consumers making their first beauty purchases coming through, many of whom were engaging with makeup products for the first time. Having experienced great success with the Disney collaboration, we have some exciting partnerships in the pipeline for 2024.”

Looking to the future, conversation turns towards Kiko’s UK expansion plan. “In the UK, we’re very much focusing on growth, with a vision to launch the brand in Ireland, where we’re aiming to have between three-to-five stores by this time next year. We’re also aiming to increase our distribution by around 50 percent, fueled by our soon-to-be-revealed new and improved website.

“We currently have 25 stores in the UK, but we’re aiming to add 12 stores throughout the course of 2024, eight of which we have already signed agreements for in high-footfall, high-profile locations,” Paul concludes. “Many of our existing stores will be refurbished in the coming months, including our flagship in Covent Garden. As one of our pride and joys, the Covent Garden store is undergoing an unbelievable makeover next year and will become one of the leading Kiko global flagship stores.”