Retail in Asia


Rituals’ Raymond Cloosterman on creating ‘small moments of happiness’ for travellers

Last year was a period of growth for Rituals Cosmetics in travel retail and beyond. With numerous store openings around the world, most recently at the highly anticipated Block C of the cdf Mall, 2023 has been strategically important for the wellbeing brand’s growth.

In this Q&A, Rituals founder and CEO Raymond Cloosterman talks about the wellbeing brand’s renewed focus on travel retail, its ongoing investment in bigger and better spaces in the channel, and the holistic Art of Soulful Living ethos that drives every aspect of the wellbeing leader’s business operations.

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He also discusses the brand’s affordable luxury positioning, how it is engaging with Millennial and Gen Z shoppers, and its mission to be ‘a remedy and sanctuary’ to the pain points in the travel experience.

In August 2023, Rituals opened a permanent space at the cdf Haikou International Duty Free Shopping Complex offering four core Rituals lines curated for the Asian market. Source: Rituals
What sets your brand apart from other players in the wellbeing space? 

Raymond Cloosterman: At Rituals, we believe that consciousness is the key to a happier and more fulfilled life. That’s why we created The Art of Soulful Living, a compass to guide consumers on a journey of personal wellbeing. Through easy adaptable routines and small habits, we encourage shoppers to find a moment of positivity, peace and happiness in their everyday lives.

We want our customers to embark on a journey of personal wellbeing with us to help them reconnect with their true human nature, unify body, mind and soul, and positively transform their life.

We believe in our saying that ‘We are not here to sell you beauty, we are here to make you feel good’. How do we hope to achieve this? As well as offering an extensive collection of luxurious yet affordable products for home, bath and body, we also offer free masterclasses, yoga sessions, guided meditations and insightful magazine articles on all the themes of The Art of Soulful Living Compass.

The ultimate form of wellbeing is achieving balance between body, mind and soul. At Rituals, we believe that if you pay more attention to this harmony, it benefits how you feel and how you view and experience life.

Rituals is also special in its affordable luxury positioning, one that offers a moment of quality relaxation with our transportive products and soulful ethos.

Can you give us some insight into your recent performance in the channel? 

Cloosterman: Over the past 23 years we have been established as a global industry expert in over 36 countries, present in vibrant cities such as London, Paris and Hong Kong with more than 1,050 stores, 3,900 shop-in-shops, five body spas, and the world’s first Mind Oasis. Next to Amsterdam, we’ve recently opened the second and third Mind Oasis in Antwerp and Paris, and will soon open in Frankfurt and Barcelona. In addition, we are expanding rapidly on airlines, cruise liners and ferries as well as in hotels.

Europe is one of Rituals’ strongest markets in travel retail and we remain committed to enhancing our presence in the region as an iconic European gifting brand. We have seen significant duty free growth, with a presence in more than 110 countries, 20 stand-alone stores, 730 shop-in-shops, ten different airlines and over 3,500 boutique hotels.

In 2022, we reported €1.4 billion in global turnover, and we hope to increase this in 2023 as we expand our presence in travel retail and beyond and grow the wellbeing category through new and existing partnerships.

The opening of Rituals Cosmetics’ first standalone store at Copenhagen Airport comes as the high-traffic season begins at the Nordic hub. Source: Rituals
What role do you think the health & wellbeing category plays in travel retail? How would you like to see the category evolve as part of the travel retail offer and experience? 

Cloosterman: As a leading wellbeing brand, Rituals has an important role to play in supporting the wellbeing of consumers particularly in travel retail. Research indicates that one-third of international travellers feel stressed at some stage in their journe. Our aim is for Rituals to be a remedy and sanctuary to counter any discomfort passengers may experience in the travel environment.

The pandemic has made health, selfcare and wellbeing top of mind for consumers around the world, and we intend to take Rituals to the next level as the leading wellbeing beauty brand that meets and exceeds the expectations of consumers.

Through our focus on delivering experiential shopping moments for travellers in the channel, we present an engaging moment of calm, delighting travellers with a sensory world, enhanced by the joy of new discoveries. Propelled by the growing demand within travel retail, Rituals elevated its duty free footprint in 2023 with a number of store openings and expansions. Looking ahead, we want to see the wellbeing category evolve to place greater emphasis on curating immersive, mindful experiences within the channel.

Part of our strategy to achieve this has been our focus on opening standalone stores. In June, we amplified our presence at Copenhagen Airport by opening a standalone store, marking the first time we had a dedicated space in that airport. Designed with Rituals’ signature soulful look and feel, the space ensures travellers feel at peace and ease when they enter. To remedy passenger anxieties, Rituals incorporates scents, textures and sights that soothe the soul while providing a moment of physical and mental rest.

We are also focused on expanding the offering to our customers with bigger stores in more prominent locations. Earlier this year, we opened a space at Schiphol Airport, nearly three times the size of the old location, providing consumers with a more immersive, slow shopping experience. Travellers can now shop a much larger selection of products alongside our Rituals luxury gift sets, which make the perfect purchase for loved ones back home.

Designed with glass panels on all sides of the store, our Schiphol location is a true reflection of our vision to create more wellbeing sanctuaries in travel retail that reflect our commitment to affordable luxury as well as sustainability.

The Clean & Conscious Ritual of Namaste line expands the wellbeing house’s sustainable skincare portfolio in one of its biggest strategic pushes for 2024. Source: Rituals
How do you see the prospects for the wellbeing category and your brands in the channel as travel rebuilds? How does your brand, and the wider wellbeing category, appeal to the next generation of travellers i.e. Millennial and Gen Z shoppers? 

Cloosterman: Travel retail presents a wealth of opportunities to advance the wellbeing category. As a wellbeing brand, we prioritise creating unforgettable experiences for our customers, helping them to slow down and enjoy small moments of happiness. This ethos guides our approach at both the product and store levels. Our commitment to these principles drives us to constantly innovate and surprise our customers with new products that offer memorable experiences.

Within our Rituals stores, we meticulously craft an unforgettable and inviting atmosphere that immerses our customers in a journey of brand and product discovery. This journey may include distinctive experiences like being welcomed with a warm cup of tea, followed by a hand massage at our water island. We also offer our customers the time and peace of mind to learn about the different products at their own pace in our stores.

All our employees are trained in how to deliver the best experience to our customers. We are famous for our service and have been rewarded with several prizes around the world.

Industry research indicates that though importance is given to a product, greater importance is given to a purchasing experience (m1ndset – Gen Zs in GTR). This is especially true for Gen Z shoppers, who along with Millennials, currently make up one-third of the total retail spend (m1ndset – Millennial and Gen Z Shopper Behaviour). That is why we curate a personal shopping experience from the moment they enter our store until they leave.

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For Rituals, it’s all about connection – understanding the different needs and expectations customers have when shopping with us. One of the best places to make customers fall in love with our products is at our Water Island. We see this as an island of interaction where customers can try our iconic products and instantly be convinced when they experience a Rituals collection for themselves.

Amid the hustle and bustle of the airport environment, Rituals offers a moment of relaxation and calm and we hope to continue spreading our soulful presence within travel retail and beyond.