Say hello to 2018, where the consumer is savvier than ever and where digital tactics are redefining the future. Amid the evolvement of retail, the beauty sector is at the top and thriving because of the ability to keep the consumer engaged on the journey with in-store experiences, technology, constant innovation and experimentation. With a focus on utility and new advances inspiring persistent demand, beauty brands are opening more physical locations.
By Faith Hope Consolo
& Beauty Lounge
Known as the Drybar of beauty salons, Blushington offers convenient and affordable makeovers. The California-based beauty spot is the place for a quickie makeover offering a 45-minute makeup application for a flat fee of $55. With five locations and plans to expand, the one-stop shop for all things beauty has added services for its customers like a makeup class for Dads and Daughters, as well as makeup application on the go, at your home, office, or hotel. Blushington is honing beauty services in the brand’s signature peach setting, elbowing its way into the Benefit Cosmetics market.
The online-only skincare and makeup extension of beloved beauty website Into the Gloss built a successful following around its blog. With minimalistic packaging, potent potions, and millennial pink colors, the cult brand has jumped to the forefront of the beauty sphere. Using feedback from its 900k Instagram followers, the community-driven brand is able to create products based on personalization. Headquartered in a showroom in SoHo, Glossier launched pop-up shops in Dallas, Portland, Toronto, and London as an “offline experience.” The hype continues as the company started shipping to Canada and the U.K. with additional plans to expand overseas.
The Denver based chain is the luxury multibrand beauty retailer of excellence. Designed for a sophisticated and discerning audience, Cos Bar has successfully carved out a unique and engaging sales experience focused on the needs of the client. Coupled with a carefully curated array of the world’s best beauty brands (such as Tata Harper and Sisley-Paris), this artful combination of selection and service has led the brand to unprecedented levels of appreciation. With omni-channel distribution and geographic growth on the horizon, Cos Bar will bring this compelling style of retailing to a much greater audience. Marching on.. currently in Aspen, Brentwood, Brookfield Place, Carmel, Charleston, Dallas, Edwards, Edina, Highland Park, La Jolla, Lexington, Montecito, Newport Beach, Oklahoma City, Red Bank, Santa Fe, Scottsdale, Vail, Wailea, and The Woodlands.
Credo translates to “I believe” in Latin; the natural beauty mecca represents a mission that knowledge is beautiful, educating people about safe and non-toxic products. The San Francisco-based beauty and skincare boutique harnessed the momentum of the green beauty movement making shopping for clean beauty products simple, chic, and accessible. Natural beauty has become the next “organic food”…I believe this is a beauty brand to watch.
This family-run boutique is a one-stop beauty bar/day spa run by former makeup artist/beauty editor Miriam Gee and her three daughters. With studios in Miami and Toronto, Gee Beauty offers every specialty beauty product you could ever lust for. They even recently launched a same next-day delivery service, along with a health line co-created with supermodel Elle MacPherson.
NYX Professional Makeup
Nyx, the affordable cult-beauty brand, once only available at mass drug and department stores like CVS and Target, is expanding into branded brick-and-mortar stores. They opened its firstever physical store in California in 2015, and now have 33 stores in the US. The brand has successfully leveraged its huge social following and drive sales with user-generated content created in-store. They recently launched virtual beauty tutorials with Samsung in select locations to create three unique makeup tutorials lead by influencers. This highly interactive experience and Nyx’s affordable price point is what engages beauty enthusiasts and continues to be on trend.
This beauty behemoth is known as the closest competitor to Sephora. Its stores feature the familiar orange-and-white palette and prides itself on being a destination for “beauty enthusiasts” selling high-end (think Nars and Urban Decay) and drugstore-brand (think L’Oréal and Maybelline) cosmetics to customers who want prestige brands and salon service. Each Ulta store has a salon that offers haircuts and colors, and the stores also offer facials, manicures, eyelash extensions, and other services including a Benefit Brow Bar. Ulta’s biggest secret weapon is the Ultamate Rewards program awarding one point for every $1 you spend. By focusing on customer relationships and incentivizing customers to not only join the loyalty program but also to buy more, the program’s 21 million active members now generate more than 90% of Ulta’s overall sales. Shoppers can use the Ulta app to scan any product’s bar code as they browse the store; from there, they can read customer reviews, see similar merchandise, and save items as favorites. The M.A.C. partnership that began last spring, featuring M.A.C. boutiques inside the stores, was a big deal because M.A.C. has sold mostly in department stores, its own branded shops, and cannot be found in Sephora. Ulta may not be as luxurious looking as Sephora, but it doesn’t want to be; it’s where the average beauty shopper can find everything beauty in the most inclusive way possible – it is a community.
The nationwide chain is a high-end beauty store and spa all under one roof. Each location carries different products that are curated. In addition to selling cosmetics, they also offer in-store facials and spa treatments. Macy’s Inc acquired Bluemercury in 2015; since then, they have launched the “X-Bar,” an innovative concept featuring small kiosks that allows shoppers to experience new trends and product launches with fast service from trained experts. The flagship store at the New York Hilton in Midtown is meant to be a technology innovation hub. One of these technology advancements is an artificial intelligence mirror that allows consumers to walk into the store, zap any type of product, and then get all the digital information available, including ingredient listings, market information, reviews, and even video content. The luxury beauty brand has plans to increase its natural beauty footprint across more locations apace.
French cosmetics’ retailer Sephora is at the forefront of experiential retail marrying the traditional experience with modern technology. Using tools like augmented and virtual reality, Sephora allows customers to try on different looks. Starting with the Beauty TIP (Teach, Inspire, Play) Workshop, which encourages shoppers to play with products before making any purchases, Sephora brings next-level service and education to the clients. Beauty workstations allow customers to come together to learn via group classes with Sephora’s makeup professionals. A service called Color IQ, lets customers scan their skin tone with a device and then displays a list of recommended products for their profile. Sephora even has its own version of Smell-O-Vision, a touch screen that lets visitors smell the scents. The Virtual Artist App uses facial recognition to virtually try on makeup products. Sephora’s newest concept, the Sephora Studio, which rolled out this summer, is a new “boutique” format, which is less than half the typical size of a Sephora store for a more curated experience and specializes in on-demand one-on-one services. The glossy black-and-white chain is paving the future for all on the beauty retail landscape.
Meanwhile, department stores are mimicking tactics applied by these successful beauty stores to draw more traction. Saks introduced its SaksFirst Beauty Reward Program to allow members to test deluxe-size beauty products without having to purchase the full size; Bloomingdales launched Glowhaus into select stores and online, offering Insta-famous products to capture the attention of millennials; Nordstrom is rolling out a Well Beauty initiative this month in 38 of its stores with the hottest indie beauty/wellness brands on the market; Neiman Marcus has Memory Mirrors in select stores, a smart mirror that records your makeup session, guiding you for the best experience. Not to mention, designer brands like Armani Beauty and YSL Beauté have jumped on the bandwagon opening pop-ups with a heavy makeup focus.
Immersive retail models are shaking up the beauty industry. These brands set themselves apart as industry leaders and their first-to-market technological innovations certainly make them Amazon-proof. There is no doubt that the digital and personalized in-store experience in beauty is the next-generation of retail. Happy Shopping!
ABOUT FAITH HOPE CONSOLO
Faith Hope Consolo is chairman of Douglas Elliman’s Retail Group in New York. Recognized worldwide as the “Queen of Retail,” Consolo is renowned for her expertise as a consultant and retail broker who has been instrumental in revitalizing and sculpting retail corridors across the nation and beyond. Her client base includes top-tier fashion names as Buccellati, Ivanka Trump, Cartier, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, and Yves Saint Laurent. She is responsible for the most successful commercial division of New York City’s largest residential real estate brokerage firm.