Engaging experiences: The secret to success in beauty retail?

Glossier and Macy's are among the brands benefiting from an investment in customer experience, according to new research from Kline

Providing consumers with engaging beauty experiences is proving the key to success in an ever-changing retail landscape, new data from market research company Kline has revealed.

Direct sales channels, including e-commerce, social selling and home shopping networks, showed the strongest sales growth, up by more than 13% in the US in 2017, according to Kline's Beauty Retailing USA: Channel Analysis and Opportunities report.

This was followed by specialty stores, which saw an increase of 9% as more retailers are investing in technology to enhance their in-store experience.

Donna Barson, Senior Consultant at Kline, said: "Traditional department stores, in a quest to reverse declining sales and attract the younger generation of experimental consumers, are transitioning to become more competitive with e-commerce by employing more technology.

"However, it is specialty retailers that are at the forefront of the retailing changes, attracting consumers by developing more engaging formats and more personalised customer experience.”

More digitally native brands, such as Glossier and Kim Kardashian's KKW Beauty, are opening pop-up shops to connect with consumers, enabling them to offer more personalised beauty experiences while reaching a new audience, Barson noted.

Meanwhile, traditional department stores, which have been hard hit by store closures in recent years, have been investing more in experiences to win back consumers with unique propositions they can't get online.

US department store Macy's, for example, recently revamped its beauty retail strategy with the acquisition of Story, a single-location concept store in New York that reinvents itself with a different theme every four to eight weeks.

This focus on unique experiences also ties in with the retailer's concept pop-up The Market @ Macy's, which showcases a rotating selection of products across different categories.

Elsewhere, Kline also noted the growth of multi-brand specialty stores such as Sephora, which also homed in on experiential retail last year with The Sephora Studio.

Its smallest store to date, the 2,000sqft location offers a curated assortment of products and treatments, aiming to deliver an intimate, personalised experience.

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