Beauty retailer gives new products a store-within-a-store of their own

Discussion
Photo: Cos Bar
Jan 25, 2019
Matthew Stern

Luxury beauty retailer Cos Bar is launching a section within its stores to experiment with new brands that might play well with its customers.

The initiative, called Cos Bar Lab, includes an in-store display, which is being rolled out at six of the chain’s 20 stores, according to Glossy. The displays will highlight three to five brands at a time that the retailer otherwise does not stock. Cos Bar Labs is beginning with a few essential oil, hair care and “clean” beauty brands. It also has plans to experiment with products in other categories, such as home and wellness. Brands proven successful on a case-by-case basis will be rolled out to all of the chain’s stores. Cos Bar will is also adding a new section to its website specifically dedicated to Cos Bar Labs products.

The Cos Bar Labs experiment comes after a successful store-within-a-store partnership with Banana Republic.

Cos Bar, which has been around since 1976, has faced a new wave of competition in recent years as more affordable beauty retailers like Sephora and Ulta have arrived on the scene.

As of 2017, the retailer was promoting its high-end customer service offerings as its prime differentiator, according to Forbes. The chain’s locations are reputed to be a destination for celebrities in search of specific high-end beauty brands. Founder Lily Garfield has gone as far to say that it is not “prestige” that draws its customers, but “luxury.”

Retailers in other spaces have taken similar steps to test out new products outside of their core assortment in stores. Macy’s, for instance, not only partnered with turnkey retail solution b8ta to bring an assortment of maker-created products to Macy’s shelves, but acquired a minor stake in the software platform.

Ace Hardware likewise acquired The Grommet in 2017, an online company that allows inventors and entrepreneurs to bring quirky tech products to market. The acquisition came after Ace experienced success with “Innovation Incubator” displays featuring a rotating selection of products from the Grommet in some of its stores.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is an initiative like Cos Bar Labs a good way for retail chains to experiment with new products before deciding to roll them out on a wider basis? What might the advantages be vs. rolling out new products alongside the rest of the product assortment?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"There’s literally nothing more fun for many women than to experiment with beauty products, so yes, this as a great idea."
"I also like that the fixturing is different; it highlights product and attracts shoppers."
"Also, it creates a “newness” factor for the retailer and a good draw for them as consumers are increasingly experimental and want discovery."

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4 Comments on "Beauty retailer gives new products a store-within-a-store of their own"


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Anne Howe
BrainTrust

There’s literally nothing more fun for many women than to experiment with beauty products, so yes, this as a great idea. The big upside I see is the ability to create events around the experience areas and encourage women to bring a few friends.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

This trend is a good one. With the increasing DTC competition for retailers across almost every category, retailers are smart to provide channels to newer brands to get their product into the market before they go direct. Also, it creates a “newness” factor for the retailer and a good draw for them as consumers are increasingly experimental and want discovery.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I love this idea, it’s a great way to introduce new product, and it’s not expected so it makes the shopping experience more fun. I also like that the fixturing is different; it highlights product and attracts shoppers.

Even though the merchandise changes from season to season in most stores it’s generally more of the same theme. Adding a store within a store can change the entire perception of the sales floor, and the store.

Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Test and learn is always a good move. This is the retailer’s version of a merchandising pilot test. Moreover, it’s been in use since the beginnings of “consignment” as a concept.

The move by Cos also adds to the experience for shoppers seeking discovery and exploring rather than replenishing. It limits flops in the marketplace and reduces the cost of inventory by optimizing higher selling products. It also makes it easier for retailers to examine the effects to the rest of their inventory — multivariate testing in the store.

Store-in-store helps to break the humdrum of the store experience.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"There’s literally nothing more fun for many women than to experiment with beauty products, so yes, this as a great idea."
"I also like that the fixturing is different; it highlights product and attracts shoppers."
"Also, it creates a “newness” factor for the retailer and a good draw for them as consumers are increasingly experimental and want discovery."

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