KIKO Milano was born in the very city that is part of its brand name, Milan. More than a quarter century later the company continues forward with the idea that makeup should enable all women to express their own individuality. In this interview, we spend some time with CEO Simone Dominici to discuss the evolution of the company and what the next stages are in its development.
Since its launch in 1997 the business has grown to provide the widest cosmetics assortment in the sector as well as expanding into other categories such as skin care. The company offers an outstanding in-store experience across all their stand-alone stores and beauty products with high quality standards at the most accessible prices.
The company closed out 2022 with just over 1,000 stores after adding 60 new units last year as well as growing its reach into ten new markets across the Middle East, North Africa, South East Asia and the Americas, meaning they now have a presence in 62 markets throughout the world.
Even in the time since this interview took place and you reading it now, the CEO explains that they will have no doubt added a few more stores as they continue to expand, with the five-year goal being to add 400 additional mono-brand stores and an additional 1,000 doors across selective beauty retailers.
KIKO Milano recently opened store number 1,000 in Dubai, with the Middle East being a key growth driver for them and a region where they plan to nearly double their presence this year to 140 stores. They also jumped across two oceans to reach the Philippines where they have also recently opened and have a strong growth plan in place. They will continue to expand across multiple markets in 2023 and have planned openings scheduled for Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
As a company that is always looking to the future, the primary focus at the moment is on transforming KIKO Milano from a multi-regional beauty retailer into a global beauty brand, which Dominici believes is its natural evolution. It is already at the heart of the Italian beauty industry, which while providing over 55 per cent of the world’s best cosmetic products to brands all over the world, has not had the same global brand impact some of their larger competitors have.
“We plan to change that, because KIKO Milano is representative of one of the most recognisable beauty cultures in the world – Italy,” explains Simone Dominci, CEO of KIKO Milano. “This is a territory where Italians have excelled for millennia, we don’t just understand beauty, we know how to compose beauty from a diversity of elements that is usually unachievable – but in Italy we know how to do this. It is what we do, every day, in almost everything. We offer this to our customers, the options, the services, the understanding that allows them to be endlessly innovative and make beauty happen effortlessly.”
The unrivalled technical mastery in the Italian cosmetics and skin care industry allows KIKO Milano to develop high quality products that address all imaginable customer needs, while their capacity to continuously reinvent and reimagine colour combinations, new colours, textures and packaging allows them to offer almost boundless creative options for their customers.
“It is a partnership with our customer, where we give them the tools to make beauty something bespoke to them and universally loved. We can do this by having the right mix of product assortment, creative inspiration through our social media channels and instore beauty expertise,” says Dominici.
Following 26 years of growth and of offering leading expertise in its field, KIKO Milano is today a force to be reckoned with both offline and online in the world of social media. They are the only non-celebrity beauty brand that has engagement levels and follower growth that rivals that of celebrity brands and digital natives. The core of their strategy is to inspire, as if they were an influencer, through arrestingly beautiful content that drives excitement and then they let their community express their own vision via their own content – which they also often feature.
Meanwhile in the realm of sustainability, the brand is also transforming its internal operations through a unified commerce strategy, which will not only integrate all processes facing the customer, but also allow them to tailor and address each customer’s needs to a near bespoke service and product offer. Their unified commerce transformation is already on the way and they expect it to be fully operational by the end of the year.
KIKO Milano has evolved since inception to offer a very inclusive and complete beauty experience. It is not just about offering amazing products, immersive stores, beauty services and constant consumer inspiration. It is instead the sum of all these things in a friendly environment that is highly accessible for all, Dominici tells us.
Following this explanation, we ask the CEO what then the overall ethos of the business is?
“Part of our transformation into a global beauty brand involves updating many elements of our marketing and brand identity, but in terms of ‘ethos’, this comes from the term for customary, which goes back to our tradition of inclusivity. I would reiterate our founder’s concept of ‘Be what you want’ as the underlying ethos to everything we do at KIKO Milano.”
Discussing the future and the major challenges for the brand, Simone highlights that managing exponential growth is always a challenge, even if it is a welcome one. He feels that there are many global headwinds, but they are confident that they can overcome these and continue their planned growth.
KIKO Milano is another form of luxury, one that inspires people to be themselves instead of aspiring to be someone else, by remaining inclusive and accessible to all and we want to continue inspiring people as we maintain our growth,” Dominici concludes.