The industry is giving shoppers a greater ‘experience’ by setting up dedicated stores
There was a time when buying lipstick or mascara simply involved a quick trip to the local department store and a few minutes sampling testers.
No longer. Increasingly shoppers want standalone cosmetic and fragrance stores that are devoted to their favourite brands and which offer “experiences” such as make-up tutorials, “virtual” nail bars, and “selfie mirrors”.
While the trend is seen as a fabulous opportunity for nimble-footed cosmetics companies, it could also be a threat to the traditional department stores which use their ground floor beauty space to drive footfall into the less glamorous corners of their stores.
Research from CBRE, the property consultancy, shows that cosmetic brands accounted for about 10 per cent of the 120 new retail entrants which opened a standalone store in Britain last year, compared with 4 per cent in 2014. This is even more pronounced in the capital with Nash Bond, a specialist retail property consultancy, reporting a near 100 per cent increase in the opening of new “mono-brand beauty” stores during the past two years.
Many of the new beauty outlets include brands such as Le Labo, Kiko Milano and Malin & Goetz as well as Estée Lauder’s first British freestanding store, Estée Edit, on Carnaby Street. Estée Edit opened in November and was billed as a “digital-first” store aimed at the “millennial consumer”. Alongside an extended range of make-up products it provides services including a “selfie mirror” where shoppers can snap their post-makeover picture and either print it in store (like an old-school Polaroid) or upload it immediately to Instagram or Snapchat.
Mr Scott added that Covent Garden and the Westfield London shopping centre had become particularly popular among beauty occupiers because there was a “critical mass of the best beauty brands, but importantly they are located among premium fashion and tech occupiers appealing to their millennial customer”.
Jo Dancey, vice-president retail at Estée Lauder, said that the beauty manufacturer had been in the “freestanding beauty store world” for more than 15 years through its brands Jo Malone, Mac Cosmetics and Aveda among others. She said that Estée Lauder used both department store concessions and standalone stores but added that growth in the “experience economy” meant that freestanding outlets were more important than ever.
“There has to be a place to provide in-store entertainment and experiences and convenience, whether it is offering make-up classes and appointment booking facilities or providing click and collect options,” she said. “Having standalone stores means we can focus on providing relevant formats in areas where shoppers want them to be, such as transportation hubs or small market towns and cities.” Estée Lauder has about 100 standalone stores in Britain across a range of its makeup, hair and fragrance brands.
Burberry has provided “virtual runway nail bars” as its Burberry Beauty Box in Covent Garden, where shoppers can see how the latest runway shades suit them without having to apply them to their nails.
Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer at Westfield UK and Europe, said that beauty manufacturers were responding to rising consumer demand, pointing out that Westfield had recorded “significant growth” in beauty spending of 4 per cent this year at its two large malls in Shepherd’s Bush and Stratford City.
He said that Westfield had more than 32,500 sq ft of retail space dedicated solely to cosmetics retailers, an increase of 12 per cent compared with a year ago, and added: “Beauty brands are looking to create interactive spaces where make-up can be easy, fun and engaging.
“The hugely popularmake-up brand NYX launched its first standalone British store at Westfield Stratford City last month. The 2,192 sq ft location is a make-up lover’s dream with its interactive beauty bar. Urban Decay cosmetics brand is also set to open a new standalone store at Stratford City.
“The recent launch of Charlotte Tilbury’s 2,061 sq ft flagship store at Westfield London is leading the way in creating the ultimate in-store experience for the beauty buff. The store employs augmented reality magic mirrors where customers can try on a range of 10 signature Charlotte Tilbury looks with the swipe of a screen.”
Andrew Phipps, head of retail research at CBRE, said that the rise of standalone make-up stores could put pressure on department stores whose beauty hall concessions were large drivers of footfall. “There is a question about what role department stores will play [for beauty brands] going forward if, over time, footfall to department stores falls. A lot of brands recognise that they are strong enough to have a standalone presence and can use standalones stores to be a more targeted about who they are appealing to.
“I think some brands, particularly more niche ones, also no longer see the department store as the most obvious route to market.”