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New Perspectives in Beauty Retailing

By: Ada Polla
Posted: August 27, 2012, from the September 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Emergence of new retail formats. In addition to pop-up stores, new retail formats are emerging that blend magazines and traditional retail. For example, Glamour magazine and retailer C.O. Bigelow launched an m-commerce (magazine-commerce) wall in the U.S. in February 2012 at its New York location. Up for six days, this wall offered some of C.O. Bigelow customers’ favorites and integrated mobile technology, developed by SpyderLynk, that enabled shoppers to “snap and shop.”

More permanently, Sandow Media, the owner of NewBeauty magazine, purchased the worldwide rights to the Fred Segal brand name in 2012, and while the complete impact of this transaction remains to be fully understood, the first expression of this new joint venture can be seen in Santa Monica, California, at the fully renovated NewBeauty at Fred Segal beauty boutique. Indeed, Yara explains, this is Sandow’s way of bringing the magazine to life. Rather than displaying full lines on one shelf, the store looks like the actual magazine, with products arrange by category, for example the best 10 masks currently on the market. It’s a way to bring a selection of beauty products curated by editors to consumers, giving them tips, insights and additional information on the products they can choose.

In a similar vein, OpenSky also recently launched a beauty section on its site, which features the selections of beauty experts for a “social shopping” experience. Featuring beauty industry names such as Jerrod Blandino, dermatologist Dr. Fredric Brandt, Chandler Burr and many more, the site offers a new selection of self-curated products from these participants each week. Shoppers can communicate directly with the curators within OpenSky’s platform, as well as watch their videos and read their expert reviews created by them for each product.

Change and Evolution

As the retail trends discussed during the 2012 panel indicate, the beauty industry continues to be dynamic and things continue to change. For consumers, that means more ways to shop, more ways to experience a product and more ways to learn about a new brand. For brands, that means more work to do, more new technology (including video) to embrace, and more options to get beauty products in the hands and minds of the consumer.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to launch a brand or distribute a product. What matters is finding an effective way to tell a genuine story across product packaging, marketing and distribution. Because, in the end, while consumers like products, they love stories.

Ada Polla is the co-creator of the Swiss antioxidant skin care line Alchimie Forever, which launched in the U.S. in 2004. Her strategic focus and implementation have yielded double-digit annual revenue growth for the company. She holds an MBA from Georgetown University, majored in art history and political science at Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1999. She is also a GCI magazine editorial advisor.