Premium Beauty Retail is Set to Soar

Retailers are finally waking up to the way that women buy beauty. I’ve seen three fantastic new retail concepts on Britain’s high streets this autumn and I think each have the power to transform the premium beauty market.

For too long, premium retailers have focused on the exclusive in-store experience, but that’s not what most consumers want. No one likes a high-pressure sell {something that is still too often the norm in department stores}, but many still want their shopping experience to be special.

BeautyMARTI was struck by BeautMART’s simple and clever idea. Co-founder, Millie Kendal {a true beauty professional, having co-created make-up Ruby & Millie amongst others}, told me how she and Anne-Marie Solowij {former beauty director with Vogue}, came up with the concept.“

Magazines still drive sales and we recognise that PR and sales take a long time to react to each other. We have tried to develop a concept that is Pure Marketing,” she explained to me. BeautyMART opened in Harvey Nichols, London, and is the first concept store offering an edited selection of products from 170 brands.

“Our edit mirrors what you would see and ultimately want to buy from the page of a magazine,” says Millie, who dreams of opening 24 stores across the UK, either free standing, department store concessions or vending machine installations. “A combo of all three is ideal and an online magazine you can shop from,” she reveals.I can see this appealing to consumers who hate to be bombarded by choice. Tightly edited ranges take the stress out of choosing.

M&S Your Beauty

In many ways, what Marks & Spencer is doing is not dissimilar. The brands on sale are ones that may have struggled to get distribution and are backed up by non-pushy sales staff who are trained to advise on everything they sell. You get the impression that the brands haven’t been chosen because they have big advertising budgets, but because the buyer believes they are outstanding. That inspires confidence.

Selfridges: The Beauty Workshop

Selfridges has always tried to do things differently. Its Living Beauty section was successful in putting the spotlight on exciting niche brands, which you wouldn't expect to find in the main beauty hall. Now overhauled as The Beauty Workshop, Selfridges has tripled floor space for over 100 brands handpicked by the beauty buying team. Like with M&S, the sales staff independently advise customers, making for a less pressured retailing environment.

Three new beauty retail concepts. Three new ways of challenging the way that premium beauty is sold. I’m positive they will pave the way for more ground-breaking retail changes in the future.