Beauty retail has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. With the rise of online, retail beauty brands are having to readdress the customer experience on the High Street and take things up a notch. One area that is emerging is the rise of flagship stores, often by brands that have never previously had stand alone shops. So what do brands achieve from this new retail concept and what can we as an industry learn from it?
Taking a closer look, what really causes brands to branch off from department stores and open their own independent boutiques? Maybe it’s because traditional makeup brands have declined in sales by 1.3% in 2016 and independent brands have grown by 42.7%. Or maybe it’s because of technology that consumers are becoming more inclined to just press a button on their smartphone after watching a video about a product.
Being a bunch of beauty junkies here in the Beauty 1st offices we decided to take a trip to beauty heaven and explore a variety of stand-alone stores to discover what makes each of them unique. Many brands have created independent/ flagship stores that feature the most glamorous new technologies making them “Instagrammable” from any angle. Social media has become such a large part of the way companies market to consumers, so by giving the customers the power to post a picture in their stores, the image could have the potential to reach millions. But apart from that what is it that gets consumers into the store in the first place? We would have to say that it’s the unique experience!
The Beauty Quarter in Covent Garden is home to more stand-alone beauty boutiques within one square mile than anywhere else in London. In just two years, Covent Garden’s Beauty Quarter has become a mecca for luxury beauty, now housing the most stand-alone beauty boutiques within one square mile in London. The area attracts more than 43 million customer visits per year and has become the epicentre for luxury beauty shoppers. Housing new concept beauty stores from luxury brands Chanel, Dior, Burberry, Clinique and Bobbi Brown, Covent Garden is the ultimate destination for beauty.
Creating an experience for customers that you can’t get online or at a department store is becoming essential when opening up a stand alone store. Walk into any number of these stores and you’ll find well-trained professionals ready to assist you with a selection of services that the store provides. Stores in Covent Garden aren’t going to be like the department stores your Mum took you to as a child, every store has been thought out thoroughly and filled with all the bells and whistles that will make your shopping experience something worth remembering. From offering an array of cosmetic services in-store to providing a tutorial that you can follow step by step when you get home are key factors that make these flagship stores standout.
You might be wondering why luxury brands are starting to market towards people that sometimes can’t even be bothered to look up from their phones. It’s all about adapting to the future and coming up with what people are going to be interested in next. Online communities are being formed constantly for new products and the latest trends. Each brand invests quite a bit into their flagship or concept store to help reflect their own personality into a physical store.
The Burberry Beauty Box showcases this well by bringing together beauty and fashion with over two floors of merchandise to look at. The storefront windows showcases a digital screen with the signature Burberry check and when you walk inside you see a 16-foot ‘digital chandelier’ showcasing the monthly story, bringing different products and looks to life. The store operates till-free using Apple products for payment and also offers a unique Digital Runway Nail Bar where customers can virtually “try on” the seasons latest colours.
Other stores such as the ‘Armani Box’ will certainly surprise you. Greeted by Uri - a large red Gorilla (Italian artist Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba reproduced the gorilla Mr Armani’s lounge has in Milan), this bright red and black store also offers the opportunity to enjoy a complete digital experience with a connected mirror offering a personal video of your make-up session so you can re-create the look at home.
When you leave these stores it’s hard not to be tempted by all the other neighboring high-end designer boutiques within the beauty quarter; Dior, Chanel, Charlotte Tilbury, Bobbi Brown and many more. Each boutique encapsulates their own personality giving each customer a unique feel and experience for the brand. Many (including us at Beauty 1st Offices) would now definitely prefer coming to Covent Garden compared to the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, where even the toughest need a cocktail after the day just to “take the edge off”.