The Story concept store in New York, which changes its theme every three to eight weeks, has launched its first beauty effort, Beauty Story, in partnership with Coty. The project runs through October 8 and brings together an unprecedented product mix of established, indie, mass and prestige brands, experiential design and digital integration, and a robust calendar of in-store events, providing a view of the future of beauty retail.
Story bills itself as an editorialized space—a shop that functions like a magazine, complete with a letter from the editor—but it also looks and feels a lot like the experiential stores that may offer a cure for retail’s ongoing downturn.
“We have the point of view of a magazine, we change like a gallery and we sell things like a store,” says Rachel Shechtman, founder of Story. She adds that Story expresses its editorial point of view through the products it curates and the events it holds.
Beauty Story features minimal Coty branding, allowing the products to speak for themselves.
The unique retail space allows Coty to connect with consumers by engaging them in an interactive experience, said Cheryl Dixon, vice president, influencer marketing, consumer beauty, Coty. There, consumers can touch, feel and play, while sharing their experience across their social feeds.
Consumers can self-direct their experience or be led through a curated tour by the highly trained Story staff.
Coty & Indie Brands Side-by-Side
Beauty Story features minimal Coty branding, allowing the products to speak for themselves. In addition, the installation freely mixes Coty products, emerging indie brands and prestige curated sections from the likes of Space NK founder Nicky Kinnaird. So, unlike most shops, Diptyque and CoverGirl can be found under one roof.
“This space is less about category and demographics and more [about] fitting into consumer lifestyles and behavior,” Shechtman noted. The setup mimics the way shoppers cocktail brands online, and reflects a strategy of mixing mass and prestige products at retailers such as CVS. It also allows Fortune 500 companies to be nimble and experiment like a startup and apply learnings to its business.
The Beauty Story space is outfitted with multiple features that drive social engagement.
The participating brands include Phlur fragrances and candles (in their offline debut), Byredo, Vintner’s Daughter, Colbert MD, Dr. Barbara Sturm, One Two Lash magnetic false lashes, Indie Lee, SimpleHuman’s smart magnifying mirror, K-beauty products from Patchology and Starskin Beauty, Beauty Chef holistic beauty, Nannette de Gaspe restorative masks and gentle kids nail varnishes from Nailmatic Kids.
Beauty Story has also integrated a wellness angle by co-curating a sleep-centric space in cooperation with Smart Nora, which produces a snoring solution technology, as well as Recliner pajamas and Shhh Silk pillowcases and pillows.
Social Currency & Digital Integration
The Beauty Story space is outfitted with multiple features that drive social engagement, which earns visitors complimentary Coty products. For instance, visitors who take photos against an in-store backdrop and post them on their social media will receive a free Rimmel product, like the Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour, from a Vengo Labs digital vending machine.
Elsewhere, YouCam’s AR app allows consumers to virtually try on products from CoverGirl, Rimmel and Clairol on wall mounted screens and share looks via social media.
The Beauty Story experience is built to allow consumers to self-direct or receive expert guidance, depending on their preference.
Clairol’s Color Crave range is displayed on a colorful wall mount outfitted with a Perch Interactive touch-capacitive retail display system. Jared Schiffman, founder and CTO of Perch, explained that consumers can physically take a product from the shelf, which will prompt a screen mounted in the display to show product information, instructional videos or even social media prompts, merging the physical and digital experience.
Super A-OK’s A1 Array Portrait Studio allows consumers to take a “next-gen photo” in front of a CoverGirl display to generate a shareable image for social media.
Critically, these technologies capture data that Coty can leverage for product, marketing and retail strategies. In addition, Story heat maps its space, gathering even more insights from the behaviors of consumers within the experience.
DIY & Expertise in One Space
The Beauty Story experience is built to allow consumers to self-direct or receive expert guidance, depending on their preference. For instance, the Sally Hansen + DIY Nail Studio station consumers are encouraged to try their hands at creating their own looks, while the Sally Hansen Manicure Station offers on-site manicures.
The Clairol Braid Bar will feature Strand Addict creator Guingui to give visitors bold braids, while Heyday will operate a customized facial shop within the space. Events will also include Rimmel makeup touchups and tutorials and CoverGirl touchups.