After a test last summer, Target is expanding its Beauty Concierge program to reach 200 Target stores this summer. Recently introduced in Chicago and Los Angeles, in-store beauty specialists are also being added to locations in the Twin Cities, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and northern Virginia.
Each participating store will have a Target Beauty Concierge, a "highly-trained, brand agnostic beauty enthusiast" to answer guests' questions in-store about cosmetics, hair care and skin care. Carrying iPads to aid in product look-up, the concierges promise to provide shoppers with "personalized, detailed and unbiased" information about beauty and personal care products and to serve as "a knowledgeable source of advice in what can sometimes be an intimidating department."
Located in the beauty aisle wearing a distinct black apron with pink trim, the concierges will not be working on commission.
"In an often crowded and sometimes daunting marketplace, Target's Beauty Concierge program ensures that guests receive the friendly, personalized counsel they need to purchase their favorite beauty products at affordable prices," said Bryan Everett, Target's senior vice president of stores in the Midwest region, in a press release.
The expansion comes as Target appears to be increasingly exploring customer service as a differentiator. A six-month test of Best Buy's Geek Squad ended in early April, apparently as Best Buy's new management decided to focus on the consumer electronic chain's turnaround.
Georganne Bender, a retail consultant who had a favorable experience with a new Target beauty specialist at a Chicago location, said having knowledgeable staff can support the beauty category. She told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "If you are the only one shopping, it's tough to understand all of the products. Target can capitalize on this, if you can get someone to use the product."
Still, a small survey of Target fans in New York City weren't sure if a beauty specialist was necessary for Target's price-range. They wondered if Target would be able to dedicate the space to try out cosmetics, seen as a minimal requirement for department store beauty counters. Two assumed the program would resemble Duane Reade's beauty consultants who initially promised in-store makeovers but now focus on promoting deals and handing out samples.
What's the likelihood that Target's Beauty Concierge program will be be successful enough to roll out across the chain?