Will Allure editors outdo other beauty merchandisers with a new store concept?

Discussion
Source: Instagram/@allure
Feb 02, 2021
Tom Ryan

Allure, Condé Nast’s beauty magazine, plans to open its first store this fall in lower Manhattan, hoping to appeal to shoppers with a curated selection of products chosen by Allure’s editors.

“The Allure audience has shown that it’s intensely loyal and trusts our expertise,” said Michelle Lee, Allure’s editor in chief, in a statement.

The 2,900-square-foot store will span two floors and feature around 300 makeup, hair-care and skin-care products. The assortment will mirror Allure’s content themes, including its famed “Best of Beauty Awards.”

Augmented reality and smart mirrors will enable customers to try on products, and the experience promises to be a hub for social media content creation. Allure’s editorial team will regularly host in-store events, tutorials and masterclasses.

Allure has already found success at retail with the 2012 launch of The Allure Beauty Box, an editor-picked selection of beauty products that’s seeing subscriber revenue running ahead 20 percent year-over-year.

The publisher opens the store at a time when Allure’s website has been experiencing year-over-year increases of 20 percent in traffic and 25 percent in time spent. The magazine attributed the gains to consumers being “increasingly reliant on the insights and product recommendations” from its editorial team.

Product recommendations from consumers have become an integral part of the online experience but is rarely utilized at physical retail. One exception is the Amazon 4-Star concept, which features products that are rated four stars and above by Amazon.com online customers. In recent years, influencers have also been increasingly affecting purchase decisions on sites such as Instagram and YouTube.

Markus Grindel, managing director of global brand licensing at Condé Nast, believes many brick and mortar stores are facing challenges because they’re failing to deliver the product discovery customers have grown accustomed to online.

“I think consumers today shop through media, through headlines, through influencers and content,” Mr. Grindel told WWD. “That’s really what is driving consumption and the store that we’re going to open is built entirely around that sort of future — this immersive environment which is created by the experts like Michelle and her team.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can you see content from fashion magazines helping to elevate product discovery at physical stores? Do you agree that consumers are increasing shopping “through media, through headlines, through influencers and content” and, if so, what challenges does this present for traditional in-store discovery?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"It's as if Consumer Reports opened an electronics shop featuring its vetted products. Best of luck, Allure!"
"This is the ultimate convergence of digital and physical retail space. Allure is not depending on either one alone."
"Certainly an interesting concept of customer journey. But I wonder about the competences required to straddle publishing and retail."

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18 Comments on "Will Allure editors outdo other beauty merchandisers with a new store concept?"


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Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Sure, this is a gimmick, but it could be a very effective one. It’s not just Allure’s editors who choose star products — it’s also the reader base, and reviews have never been more important. This could be a winner.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

Certainly an interesting concept of customer journey. But I wonder about the competences required to straddle publishing and retail. The store may not be profitable based on conventional metrics, but it could be a good reinforcement of the brand.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

From the first Harper’s Bazaar to Elle, Marie Claire, Vogue, Glamour, et. al., haven’t fashion magazines driven product discovery to physical stores? Allure is a brand. This is a natural extension of that brand. If successful, it may outlast the magazine, as the trend for fashion influencing continues to increase “through media, through headlines, through influencers and content.”

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Magazine + boutique. Sounds like a job for Story’s Rachel Schechtman.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Talk about shoppable content! Distinct stores and content from a trusted beauty authority like Allure can shorten the journey from product discovery to sale.

Media and retail are converging, as Amazon Live and Walmart and TikTok livestreams attest. Beauty is the ideal category for highly-visual omnichannel marketing, including influencers, to fill the gap as department stores and malls decline.

Coming from a different industry infers a fresh mindset. If Allure can also nail the retail basics with an experience that wows younger women, they’ll make a threatening new entrant.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Will successful online merchandising techniques transition to a physical store? Why not? But then again, why go?

Di Di Chan
BrainTrust

The future of retail stores will be a lot more animated, fun, and interactive. There will be a merger between digital reality and actual reality, and only the physical store could offer a complete shopping experience that includes the best of both worlds. In the process of exploring what that could look like, there will be a lot of trials. The experiences that will stay are the experiences that shoppers enjoy the most. Allure is a trendsetter. I expect to see many more stores experimenting with different setups and experiences they could offer their shoppers, too.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

Allure has given its seal of approval on beauty products for years. Many shoppers look for that stamp when they are selecting products. The idea that there is a whole store devoted to these vetted products is tremendous for beauty junkies (and those simply seeking a nice face cream). It’s as if Consumer Reports opened an electronics shop featuring its vetted products. Best of luck, Allure!

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

The sentiment that “many brick and mortar stores are facing challenges because they’re failing to deliver the product discovery customers have grown accustomed to online” is spot on! Every retailer needs to pay attention to Mr. Grindel’s playbook. Those discoveries will make it as demands on the sales floors.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

I’m certainly intrigued by the leap of Allure from printed content to physical discovery in a retail setting. Conceptually, I love the idea of blending content, influencers, and media into a highly-experiential shopping journey. That said, shopping behavior (especially within beauty) has changed radically over the past 12 months and recent partnerships announced by Ulta and Sephora signal more change afoot.

Having worked alongside many of the cosmetic/beauty brands and retailers reinventing their beauty aisles across food/drug/mass, I strongly urge Conde Nast to align with themselves with partners that can help them navigate the physical brick-and-mortar space (fixture companies, graphics partners, and space management experts).

It will be fun to watch their entry and witness the enthusiasm and interest it generates.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Recommendations and product reviews have traditionally been an influencer of consumer purchases, especially for products that are complex or trendy. Consumers that follow fashion magazine editors that are in touch with the latest fashion trends will likely be influenced by their recommendations. While consumers won’t blindly follow the recommendations, it will help break a tie when deciding over two or three style choices. Influencer marketing is a growing trend, as according to a report by Harvard Business School, global spending on influencer marketing has increased from $2 billion in 2017 to about $8 billion in 2019, with forecasts of spending to increase to $15 billion by 2022.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

This is the ultimate convergence of digital and physical retail space. Allure is not depending on either one alone. If there is a 2,900-square-foot store spanning two floors that feature the magazine’s recommendations, i.e., “around 300 makeup, hair-care and skin-care products,” it’s sure to deliver increased sales with potentially established and new customers. And with the in-store experience shoppers are going to see something they may have overlooked online but discover in-store and can try for themselves. Success will also be driven by the effectiveness of how the products are displayed and supported by staff. That’s one place where I see a potential weakness. But that should be easy to observe and remedy quickly.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Brands sell to consumers through retail and advertisers – Allure turns this model upside down and lets the consumers drive.

Shikha Jain
BrainTrust
One of the challenges that continues to persist for online beauty is the ability to try before you buy. The digital experience, seamlessness between channels, and high levels of consumer engagement are all becoming tablestakes and beauty brand leaders are constantly pushing the envelope but there are still some hurdles to solve: Returns, particularly with color items. Returns for apparel/footwear works because the merchandise can be marked down/resold but the same does not apply to lipsticks, eyeliner etc. Augmented reality has helped solve some of the discovery challenges of yesterday and now that the technology exists (e.g. Sephora), it should not be too long before other market leaders off it. While influencers and the media are an important communication and engagement channel, they lack the personalization aspect that shoppers get in-store which is so critical to beauty and skin care. Virtual selling through beauty parties did see an uptick during the pandemic (e.g. Bobbi Brown) and is a good compromise. Allure is able to get the best of both worlds if they channel discovery and… Read more »
RandyDandy
Guest
2 months 11 days ago
Allure, as others have commented, has weighed in on and recommended beauty products for years. This helped drive sales for those products with Allure acting merely editorially and benefitting greatly and rather easily in this comfortable benefactor/ess mode; while leaving the harder physical conveyance of goods to the manufacturers/retailers. So it is to their credit that they want to take this next step. Which may be logical, but is it going to be practical? It may be that this could be more (or less) than they bargained for. Imagine when someone far from that single location sees something in the magazine (or online) and expects the Lower Manhattan shop to get them the items — and ASAP. As this is another perk 21st Century consumers depend on. Now think about staff trying to do that thousands of times over, as “clicks” continue to mount. Also, how would they even begin to properly inventory “hits” vs “misses”? BTW, it won’t “count” if Allure finds ways to pass these parts back to the makers. That would mean… Read more »
Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust
Fashion is all about “the buzz.” Fashion magazines, designers, retailers, cosmetic companies live and thrive on “the buzz.” Internally, there is always gamesmanship on what is the newest and best trend, product, and on and on it goes, based upon extrapolated reasons why a product or trend is a best seller. Really though, the best sellers and the antidotal accompanying commentary really only exist in the minds of those so fully immersed in fashion passion, it becomes the idiom “the hill one wants to die on” guiding the internal selection process of what-gets-made-or-sold outcome. I know this from years of personal experience leading teams of designers and product developers. Allure is acting as a product filter, banking upon their brand and expertise as a platform to inspire, guide, and elevate Allure far beyond a magazine into a platform designed to further monetize the Allure brand. Whether products selected for an Allure store are consumer voted best sellers or not, it does not really matter. The Allure POV is the platform and new product discovery rarely… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I’m going to be the resident cynic, wet blanket … (take your pick) here, but I see an inherent conflict of interest lurking down the road. Or perhaps, lest it seems I’m accusing actual people, the PERCEPTION of a conflict-of-interest. What happens when a major advertiser ends up in the assortment? Is it legitimate, coincidence or … ?

Ms. Lee’s comment suggests this will be overcome by the mag’s “intensely loyal and trust(ing)” audience, but I remember the old adage “be wary of people who ask you to trust them.”

Michelle Collins
Guest

It’s a clever move for Allure. However digital and consumer experience programs have already been done by Sephora, Ulta, etc. How will this truly be different and special? I see the advertising and revenue play here.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"It's as if Consumer Reports opened an electronics shop featuring its vetted products. Best of luck, Allure!"
"This is the ultimate convergence of digital and physical retail space. Allure is not depending on either one alone."
"Certainly an interesting concept of customer journey. But I wonder about the competences required to straddle publishing and retail."

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