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Kiehl's Retail and Education Director Patrick Liew Dishes On The State Of The Skincare Biz Today

We live in a world where the trusty three-step skincare routine has morphed into ten steps overnight, thanks to beauty-crazy Korea! Not that we’re complaining, though! But a couple of years back, having a multi-step skincare regime seemed like a far-fetched idea—something that only people with far too much time on their hands were able to do each day. Fast forward to today and everybody we follow on social media seemingly morphed into a skincare junkie. We blame it on the need for much talked about “self-care”, or the need to self-soothe amidst this highly stressful world.



When it comes to skincare, we can pretty much agree that Kiehl’s is a tried-and-true brand, and a cult favorite among beauty insiders. It says it right there on every bottle: Kiehl’s has been around since 1851. So it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about making products that stand the test of time.



To tell you more about what's new at Kiehl's, we recently sat down with Kiehl’s APAC regional Director for Retail & Education, Patrick Liew and he shared to us Kiehl’s new brand promise, insights about skincare, women today, and all things beautiful in between!


What exactly is Kiehl's new brand promise? How is it different from the old one?

Patrick: "We have a lot of questions from the media after they saw this, and they thought that we are rebranding. But we’re not. We’ve been in the business for many years, and we kept true to our business, we kept true to giving to the community. So what we want to really share is the finest apotheraphy skincare.

We believe [businesses are] long-term relationship building, and we only want to recommend products that are suitable for the customer’s skin. So number one, skin type of the customer is the main concern. That’s why it’s only possible through skincare consultation that we are able to understand [the customer] in a very big way. Talking about empathy, we stand on the customer’s side. We want to understand what they really need. Of course, nobody wants to use a product that smells good and feels good but there is no result in it.

Our brand promise to our customer is that we are really here. You know what we say about serious skincare, it’s not just a trend. You can also see it on our packaging. We’re really focusing our energy and our investment on the mixture, that we search in the innovation of the ingredient. And a lot may say, “oh, they chose a packaging that is boring.” But we want to say that it’s not boring, we want to be honest. This is so we can see our brand statement: What does a product do, and of course, all the skincare ingredients are listed on our packaging."


Do you find that Kiehl's Asian customers are different from the Western ones? How so?

Patrick: "We don’t like to classify if you are Asian, [or American] because every skin is unique. Just like our fingerprints, we all have unique DNA. Yes, everyone’s skin is unique. We sincerely invite our customer to come down to our counter for consultation. That way, we can learn about your skin needs, what you dislike and what we can offer from our personalized consult solution."


Where does Kiehl's place itself in the ever-changing landscape of beauty?

Patrick: "The land is ever-changing. But what we really want to remain true to is going back to the brand’s statement. It’s really about products that come naturally with the right ingredients. Because we believe in the goodness from nature. That's a lot of power. [But also] we do want to follow regulations, because our products are only released after clinical trials to prove that it’s effective to skin. So for example, our number one serum is our powerful Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery. It helps you to to decrease fine lines and wrinkles. What you see is what you really get and it’s all been proven and tested.



Diversity is a big issue in beauty today. How does Kiehl's make sure it caters to all types of men and women?

Patrick: "I will have to be honest to say that, no. We won’t have everything for everyone. Every skin is unique, it’s a living organism; it’s the largest organ in our body. There are different concerns, like they might be pregnant, and they are thinking, “oh, can I use this product?” We’ll always be very honest and very caring. It’s a fallback, caring. If a customer has a concern and you worry about this... So it’s all about you know having the trust, and being honest and being transparent."



What is the most important thing you've learned about women in all your years of working in the beauty industry?

Patrick: "[Being a woman is] so not easy. I really respect women because, you know, to be a woman, you have to go through more hormonal changes than men. We have to pay tribute to them, respect them. Hormones release a lot that cause changes. Your hair, and even the skin can dry out. So you know it’s always women who are having a constant challenge. That’s why at Kiehl’s, we serve lady customers; our fans, [and] our family members, we always want to listen to them. Let them talk. Let them have a room. We let them vent out their frustrations. We hear about it, we hear about their lifestyle. But eventually, they come out a solution for themselves. Like you know what they say, “I’m so stressed”, “I don’t even have time to drink water,” “So can I get a moisturizer, 24-hours long-lasting.”

Being a woman you need to be smart, you need to be tough. So I give them what they need, because women deserve that. We give that which is safe for them, that which is proven by science, and last but not least, we give them our service. We really welcome them to our counter. If you  want someone to talk to, come down to us at Kiehl's.


Lead photos courtesy of Kiehl’s Philippines and Kiehl’s