Digital Native Vertical Brands. That’s the technical name for brands that are born in the digital ecosystem and make their jump into real life – often meaning a retail space.
Even if brands as Glossier, Revolve, Reformation and Gisou are already quite popular in the American market, the French scene had some difficulties in landing a trendy and well-established DNVB into a physical retail space. However, a few weeks ago, long-time Parisian influencer Jeanne Damas opened her first brasserie-boutique in the heart of the City of Lights (11 bis rue Bachaumont, 75002).
Damas brand model started as many influencer brands usually start: they build up a strong and devoted community via their social media by conveying a clear and defined style ethos. Once they got it, they promote and sell products and/or services directly related to their image and lifestyle. ‘The ultimate Parisian girl’ was Damas card, and she first launched Rouje ready-to-wear line in May 2017. In January 2019, she added the beauty category to her portfolio by including a classic range of rouge in lipstick and palette version, which sold out a few weeks after the launch. Moreover, Damas and her team have been jet-setting from Los Angeles to Tokyo, in order to open Rouje pop-up stores in the most trendy neighbourhoods around the globe.
So, after all this globe-trotting, what’s the experience of the new Rouge boutique and restaurant in the heart of Paris?
The brasserie opens at 11am, and I went just in time for lunch with a friend of mine. A croque Jeanne and a Coca light for 22 euros. Super nice deco but small seating-spaces and not very solid furniture for tables and chairs. However, if you are looking for a place to take a coffee and snap the essence of a trendy Parisian brasserie for your insta, the Rouje brasserie is definitely the place.
After having a bite, we took a look into the Rouje boutique, accessible from the inside of the brasserie. And this is where I think the brand could actually improve.
For being a DNVB-core brand, the Rouge boutique did not featured many —if not any—, omni channel retail strategies. No hashtags to be found, no tablets to browse for how to style the Rouje looks (while they have plenty of inspo through their Instagram page), no interactive beauty station with the lipsticks testers and no feature of the store offer on their official Instagram account whatsoever. For a brand that was born from the desire of a Parisian girl that build her allure in the digital world, the physical retail space of Rouge does not transmit this dynamism at all. Au contraire, it feels a bit stiff and too much of a traditional retail space without much touch points with a customers that arrives already engages and willing to consume. However, the level of engagement offered by the boutique is quite low and not very experience-focused.
If you are fan of the Rouje brand, the boutique is a must-see if you are in Paris. Take a coffee, browse a bit through the racks, but don’t crash in with super high expectations. I truly hope that the lack of retail-experience and customer-engagement is due to the newness of the space and that they are actually building up a data-base of their customers IRL — which might be an interesting insight in how the brand operates in Paris.
For me, it’s a wait-and-see.