Wednesday, 23 May 2012

M&S Your Beauty - Marks and Spencer's new beauty hall

Marks and Spencer Your Beauty new beauty hall. Image credit: Harper's Bazaar
Following the rumours that have been circulating about Marks and Spencer’s new beauty offering, the store has finally revealed its new beauty retail concept - M&S Your Beauty: The Best of Nature and Science. And it’s exciting! Launched yesterday in its High Street Kensington store, M&S Your Beauty is distinctly premium and high tech and looks set to rival the best of the department stores.

Back in 2009 M&S decided to abandon its premise of only stocking own-branded items in its food halls, and this ethos has been extended to its new beauty offering. So alongside 14 of M&S’s own brand beauty lines, consumers can also find a large range of premium and niche brands such as Nuxe, Apvita and Philip Kingsley. Keen to be a step ahead of the crowd, M&S has also bagged a handful of UK exclusives including Dr Murad (US), Roger & Gallet (France) and Skyn Iceland (Iceland… obviously).

One thing I really like about M&S’s Your Beauty concept is that its beauty advisors aren't working on a commission basis, thereby eliminating any potential pushy sales techniques, or recommending products that aren't necessarily right for the consumer.

Also in the offering is a Virtual Makeover Counter which lets consumers digitally select different shades of cosmetics across foundation, blusher, lipstick, etc. to find the most suitable colours for their skin tone. There is also an online version of the M&S Virtual Makeover Counter, from which you can upload an image of yourself to virtually try out different shades.

M&S Your Beauty: The Best of Nature and Science has also launched on the M&S website and will soon be rolling out to other stores. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

‘Self-style social sharing’ opportunities for beauty brands

Although a relatively new phenomenon, over the space of just a few years, social media marketing has gone from being the domain of the pacemakers to now seeing social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs incorporated into most brands’ marketing plans. And then came along the rise of ‘self-style social sharing’.

While social sharing is nothing new, social sharing image platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Polyvore are becoming increasingly popular and now boast millions of daily users. Combined with the trend for street style photography where ordinary people share their own individual styles, it presents enormous potential for beauty brands.

To put the idea of self-style social sharing into practice for brand potential, let me give an example: Back in 2009, Burberry launched its Art of the Trench website, which allows consumers to upload and share their street-style photos with their own take on an outfit featuring a Burberry trench coat. Burberry was definitely on to something; according to digital agency Made by Many, Burberry experienced an 85% sales increase in trench coats. This is particularly poignant given that back then, luxury brands in particular were hesitant to embrace social media for fear of losing their exclusivity and aspiration.

Fast forward to now and Jimmy Choo has just announced its new 24:7 Stylemakers initiative. Along the same premise as Burberry’s Art of the Trench, Jimmy Choo 24:7 Stylemakers goes one step further, by allowing consumers to click through from the image that has been shared to then buy the product featured direct from the Jimmy Choo website.

This kind of engagement is invaluable: consumers are directly interacting with a brand and promoting its products. They are spending their own time and effort creating these looks, to become part of a community to inspire and be inspired. They are showing the product in real life, instead of as a pack shot or on a model. What’s more, these consumers will then share the image through their own social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, thereby increasing potential traffic to the brand’s social sharing platform.

So far, it has largely been fashion brands to capitalise on self-style social sharing, but I think there is huge scope for beauty brands to do the same. While fashion bloggers photograph Outfit of the Day (OOTD) blog posts, beauty bloggers photograph Face of the Day (FOTD) and Nails of the Day (NOTD) blog posts, to showcase their own beauty looks and the products they used to achieve it, and this is exactly the premise that beauty brands can adopt on their own turf.

So to maximise the full potential of the social stratosphere, it’s no longer enough to simply converse with consumers; to truly embrace ‘social’ opportunities, brands and retailers need to give their consumers the platform to display their own interpretation of the brand's products to the world.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

BeautyMART: a new ‘editorial’ beauty retail concept

I have been following the BeautyMART blog, as penned by ex-Vogue beauty journalist Anna-Marie Solowij and brand creative Millie Kendall (of Ruby & Millie fame), for a little while now. With a teaser stating “BeautyMART, an exciting and unique new space to shop, in-store and online, for all your favourite beauty products”, I was keen to find out more about exactly what this new beauty retail landscape would offer.

It has now been revealed that BeautyMART is a new beauty concept store opening in Harvey Nichols in August 2012 that will offer a tightly edited selection of beauty brands, from mass to premium, niche to mainstream, all under one roof. And unlike other beauty retail concepts, BeautyMART’s founders have handpicked only the best products from each brand to stock on their shelves, rather than stocking the whole range. Anna-Marie Solowij told Vogue that she filled the store ‘as akin to doing the perfect edit for a beauty page’.

What this essentially means is that every single product in the boutique has a seal of approval from two of the beauty industry’s heavyweights; it’s not enough for them to recommend, for example, the Becca Cosmetics range – they’ll go one step further and provide you with only the best products within that range. It’s like editorial-style shopping and I love it.

This notion of ‘editorial shopping’ isn’t just limited to the product selection; it’s also an integral part of the shopping experience. As the website states: “We’re making our boutique feel like a magazine come to life, with stories to inspire you and advice that you can trust.

Prior to the boutique’s launch, BeautyMART will install its own beauty vending machines in-store, with the view to also take them to other arenas such as airports and salons, offering beauty essentials and mini products at the click of a button. Imagine waiting for your train to arrive and impulse-buying a few beauty goodies in the meantime? I better warn my bank manager.