Do mini makeup studios make sense for Sephora?

Discussion
Photo: Sephora
Jul 24, 2017
Tom Ryan

On the heels of its largest North American store opening on Manhattan’s 34th Street (11,380 square feet), Sephora opened a new concept with its smallest footprint (2,000 square feet) that specializes in makeup services.

Sephora Studio will be located outside of malls and feature digital components and more curated experiences for shoppers during their visits. The first made its debut on Boston’s Newbury Street on July 21.

Beyond 45-minute makeovers and 15-minute mini facial, Sephora Studio will be the first Sephora location to offer 75-minute “Custom Makeover Plus.” It’s also the first to feature a concierge.

All sessions start a skin consultation using exclusive digital tools like the Moisture Meter and Skincare IQ quiz to assess skin needs. The Studio also features the new Sephora Digital Makeover Guide, which captures the client’s product, application and look preferences from her makeover. A record is e-mailed to the client for future reference. Other tools available to beauty advisors include the Sephora + Pantone Color IQ touchscreens to add some science to foundation, lip and concealer shade matching.

Said Calvin McDonald, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, in a statement. “The Studio merges the best of an inclusive neighborhood retail environment with best-in-class digital tools that enable our expert beauty advisors to customize recommendations on an individual basis.”

While stocking a limited selection versus its standard 5,500-square-foot locations, the concept will feature “order in store” and same day pick Up for products unavailable in the store. With order in store, beauty advisors place customer orders through Sephora.com with complimentary standard shipping or reduced next day shipping. Shoppers can also head to Sephora Prudential Center for same day pick up.

“The truth is, there are many locations without easy access to Sephora, but where beauty products and services sell well, at players like Ulta,” GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders told CNBC. A freestanding Sephora Studio will now present “a threat for other players, but a great opportunity for Sephora,” he said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will off-the-mall makeup studios help Sephora drive traffic to its mall stores? Can smaller service-oriented stores outside the mall work for other mall-based chains?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"In today’s experience-first economy bigger isn’t always better, and Sephora is doing the right thing to provide a smaller-scale shopping channel."
"...the best sale is an emotional one from which we feel a connection to the product, company and the people, so this is set to be a huge success."
"This initiative is a great idea because most customers don’t know they “need” something until you show them how it will benefit their lives."

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11 Comments on "Do mini makeup studios make sense for Sephora?"


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Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Sephora, like most retailers, is all about products to improve life experiences after the store visit. Makeup studios make sense in the same way that treadmill analysis makes sense for athletic footwear and appliance or deck building demonstrations make sense for PIRCH or Home Depot. When retailers make themselves part of the solution, their reward is loyalty.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

In the era of experiences over things, this move makes a lot of sense. The concept has already been vetted (as the comment about Ulta proves) and there are plenty of markets that haven’t yet been penetrated, like college towns. Studios make a lot of sense.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

In today’s experience-first economy bigger isn’t always better, and Sephora is doing the right thing to provide a smaller-scale shopping channel to better connect with their existing and new customers. These smaller-scale brick-and-mortar locations could provide the proof of concept testing grounds for Sephora, as well as other experience-based retailers, to test their innovations and other strategies that perhaps would be too risky to roll out to the larger-scale stores.

Today’s customer is seeking speed, agility and seamless experiences, and Sephora’s approach with the new concept may just prove to be very successful. In addition, the smaller-scale, innovation-first stores will provide an opportunity for Sephora to quantify, test and fine tune their merchandising strategies before rolling them out across the chain.

Roy White
BrainTrust

If the economics of a high-service, tiny footprint store with limited offerings are sound and a profit can be assured, this format would appear to have several benefits to Sephora as a chain. It probably will drive traffic into the mall stores. The new studio format can be opened in a variety of locations and provides geographic flexibility. It strongly promotes high levels of interaction with customers through the makeovers. It nicely integrates online selling with brick-and-mortar retailing. More people will now be able to see and shop Sephora with these mini-studios.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Sephora has learned, through its collaboration with J.C. Penney, that a small footprint can be very effective. And it’s hard for Sephora to ignore the growth and success of Ulta. Finally, Sephora must be paying close attention to the threat to the traditional big-mall model — so a new concept like Sephora Studio gives it a good defensive and offensive strategy for growth.

Lesley Everett
Guest

What a great move for Sephora! They have the advantage of their products being of such appeal personally to their customers that creating an even easier way to get up close and provide individual advice is a sure way to drive more product sales and loyalty. We know that the best sale is an emotional one from which we feel a connection to the product, company and the people, so this is set to be a huge success.

Cristian Grossmann
Guest

This initiative is a great idea because most customers don’t know they “need” something until you show them how it will benefit their lives. By offering this personalized service, Sephora has more of a chance at selling its products because customers will directly see the value in the results. If they like what they see and how the products feel, they are more likely to seek out the store and purchase the products on-site. I see this working for other retailers, like electronics retailers who could showcase their latest technologies to engage customers.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust
Mohamed Amer
Independent Board Member, Investor and Startup Advisor
1 year 11 months ago

Adding service-oriented stores is another effective way to help “Amazon-proof” your business model. Sephora’s Makeup Studios concept carries less overhead while delivering high touch service backed by big data plus digital tools and a unique learning curve that combine to create big opportunities that are difficult to replicate by others. A key to tap into the full potential is to ensure seamless integration with the physical formats and across both physical and digital points of engagements.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

Sephora is tapping into women’s want for looking good … now. There are hair salons that simply offer wash and blow out, because women want to look their best and don’t rely on themselves and/or don’t have the time. Experienced hairdressers can help with know-how and convenience. Sephora’s studios can offer the same concept of helping women look their best … now. The products used to make that happen become a natural shopping list.

To maximize the return on investment for the studios, Sephora studio staff needs to encourage an immediate purchase as brand name cosmetics are available in stores and online. I do have one worry. The number of studios over the long term may hire employees that disappoint rather than exceed expectations. That could jeopardize Sephora’s standing overall.

Will Kesling
Guest

This is an interesting discussion. If Sephora wants to find this out they will have to have in place the ability to identify and measure some things. For example when a customer is in Sephora, how do they know what drove them go to the store? All of these ideas are hypothetical and need to be validated, carefully measured and tweaked.

“Can smaller service-oriented stores outside the mall work for other mall-based chains?” This depends on what the definition of work is. I believe the UX side, is it useable, useful, and desirable also has to be balanced with its being technically feasible and economically viable for the business.

Again, all of these ideas need methods of both quantitative and qualitative measurement.

One thing is for certain — they are offering something you can’t get online, and that could be a good thing.

Franklin Chu
Guest

Sephora’s new trial is a great example of offline to online marketing. To offer clients an omnichannel experience, retailers should think beyond content marketing and selling, and embrace unique, memorable service. Offering makeup courses to neighborhood customers is a great idea to create an exclusive, loyalty-enhancing membership experience, and it is also a valuable service for customers. However, I still think 2000 square feet is too big for a mini makeup studio. Automated shops and gyms in China take up only 100 square feet. Is 2000 square feet too extravagant?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"In today’s experience-first economy bigger isn’t always better, and Sephora is doing the right thing to provide a smaller-scale shopping channel."
"...the best sale is an emotional one from which we feel a connection to the product, company and the people, so this is set to be a huge success."
"This initiative is a great idea because most customers don’t know they “need” something until you show them how it will benefit their lives."

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