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Changing Channels

Posted: February 20, 2007

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Is Smaller Better?
Boutiques and brand stores offer smaller, niche brands a distribution channel outside of the mainstream while providing well-known brands to their customers. “These outlets are becoming destinations for loyal consumers to more easily find their favorite products, while offering brands the opportunity to introduce their brand portfolio to new consumers who may not have seen them in a more traditional multi-brand store,” said Setzfand.

These boutiques also offer increased customer service and knowledgeable staff. “Time is usually on the side of servicing a customer in these environments and the knowledge base of the consultants is usually higher. Turnover can be less in these environments and, therefore, loyal customers can receive ongoing service,” said Catalano.
Into this consumer-driven atmosphere comes Space NK, a U.K.-based beauty retailer that is expanding into the U.S. with five flagship stores during 2007.

“Space NK is based on a vision of my personal dream store,” said Nicky Kinnaird, president and creative director. “I wanted to create an experience that would impress me as a customer.” The Soho store offers a rigorously edited portfolio of 50 brands and its signature lines, along with a treatment room where clients can enjoy Eve Lom facials. The company will launch its full e-commerce store at the same time.

“In the future, we will see more of these specialized stores with trained staff that provide services and product information giving the consumer a complete shopping experience,” said Setzfand.

Brand stores, such as Sephora, blend the specialized with a slightly indie feel. “The secret to Sephora’s success is the experience we offer our clients, including our layout. Sephora stores feature open-sell gondolas and along-the-wall linears, with strategically placed individual and multi-branded product highlights,” said Allison Slater, vice president of retail marketing.