Macy’s Testing Self-Serve Beauty Concept
By Tom Ryan
Macy’s is debuting a new self-serve beauty department in select stores
around the country. The concept, which coexists with beauty counters, showcases
aisle displays of smaller brands, many of which are entering Macy’s for the
According to a report in Women’s Wear Daily, the assisted,
open-sell concept, called Impulse Beauty, is currently in around 15 locations
although plans call for another 40 by the close of the year.
The most distinctive feature of the roughly 1,000 square-foot concept, according
to the report, is a series of black gondolas with white lettering identifying
each category. Brands within the concept include Smashbox Cosmetics, Laura
Geller, Laura Mercier, Dior, Stila, H20 Plus Products, Philosophy and Bliss.
An aisle labeled “skin care” features StriVectin, Hylexin, Cosmedicine
and MD Skincare. A few hair care brands such as Frederic Fekkai are also included.
The concept allows smaller brands to gain a presence inside a department store
at a lower cost since Macy’s funds the employee staffing the sections. Margins
for the beauty brands are somewhat lower than traditional in-store cosmetic
But observers also told the fashion trade paper that Macy’s Impulse represents
a response to a growing crop of open-sell beauty retailers, ranging from Sephora
to Ulta as well as more upscale pushes by the mass market, such CVS Pharmacy’s
Beauty 360 and Duane Reade’s Look Boutique. Shoppers are also buying more beauty
products online and through home shopping channels.
“Its customer has been leaving Macy’s to buy cosmetics in other places,” one
executive, who distributes to Impulse Beauty, told Women’s Wear Daily. “What
used to be alternative [distribution] is now mainstream. The boundaries have become blurred because the customers’ shopping habits have changed so much.
Everyone is shopping everywhere.”
Discussion Questions: Should department stores offer more self-service
options within their beauty departments? What do you think of Macy’s Impulse
Beauty? In what other ways might department stores reinvent beauty departments
to better serve consumers and ward off competitive threats?