Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a spike in online purchases across the entire beauty and personal care sector during forced lockdowns, 37% of UK beauty and grooming consumers typically still only bought products in-store and 24% said they mostly shopped in-store versus online, according to recent Mintel research. Findings from its 2021 Beauty and Personal Care Journey report also showed UK consumers were driven by price and convenience when shopping this category, meaning differentiation and curation would prove key for brands and retailers moving forward.
'Aesthetics, community and social media sharing'
Georgia Stafford, UK beauty and personal care research analyst at Mintel, said one option for brands competing in such a “crowded beauty market” was pop-ups – temporary retail spaces designed to engage consumers in an immersive way.
“With consumers eagerly seeking out new, different and exciting retail experiences, beauty brands can tap into this with innovative pop-ups, driven by aesthetics, community and social media sharing,” Stafford wrote in a recent blog post.
These pop-ups, she said, encouraged a “sentiment of exclusive community” and spurred on a “feeling of affiliation towards a brand” due to the short-term nature of them, ultimately serving as a driver towards long-term brand loyalty.
Pop-ups had been flagged as the future of beauty back in 2020 by two retail experts from e-commerce consultancy Edge by Ascential and retail design consultancy Fitch for brands working their way through the thick of COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty. Both experts said the relatively low-risk and low-cost nature of these store concepts gave brands opportunity to stay flexible and engaged with consumers during difficult times.
A tangible way to ‘widen’ brand recognition
Stafford said that in an increasingly competitive UK beauty market, now coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, pop-ups offered a fresh opportunity to remind consumers about the excitement of in-store beauty.
And several brands had already proven the pop-up concept to be successful in beauty this year. Rare Beauty, for example, had launched a ‘café’ in partnership with Space NK for a limited time in London back in February, where visitors were served themed latte art and could attend beauty masterclasses whilst sampling products ahead of purchase. Fresh ran a touring ‘milk float’ pop-up around the UK to engage consumers and build brand awareness outside of capital cities. And online brand Beauty Pie opened a warehouse themed pop-up in London Covent Garden’s Beauty Corner, giving a physical shopping experience to brand fans and others discovering the products.
Stafford said that given nearly four in ten beauty and grooming consumers were keen to find out about new products in store, having some sort of brick-and-mortar presence was now key.
“Having an offline presence, even if temporary, gives beauty brands an opportunity to widen brand recognition and educate consumers on the ethos of the brand as well as give a spotlight to hero products,” she wrote in the blog.
Ensuring these stores had “knowledgeable sales associates” also helped, adding a level of personalisation to the physical shopping experience, she said.
Bold colours and ‘Instagram-worthy interiors’
However, Stafford said beauty brands opting to open pop-up stores had to harness the power of online too, particularly social media, to drive interest and create buzz around the retail space, which meant the store also had to look great.
“Uniquely designed spaces with attractive décor can build hype around a brand by encouraging sharing on social media, as consumers pose with products or write reviews for much anticipated new launches,” she said.
Beauty brands ought to create “boldly coloured and Instagram-worthy interiors”, she said, with dedicated photo-booth spaces or colourful backgrounds to encourage consumer snaps and social media shares.
It was about mixing both “tangible contact with consumers” and “virtual engagement across social media” to help drive a feeling of community and belonging, she said, and build brand awareness amongst prospective consumers.
Tech-forward beauty stores
Samantha Dover, category director for beauty and personal care at Mintel, previously told CosmeticsDesign-Europe that integrating in-store technology would also be key to creating exciting and engaging shopping experiences for beauty consumers. Beauty tech investments had, so far, however, largely just been focused on digital and e-commerce.
“Looking ahead, one of the biggest opportunities in beauty technology is better facilitating research behaviours,” Dover said. “…There is a real opportunity to bridge the gap between online and offline with in-store technology, and beauty brands and retailers can look to major players in other industries, such as Amazon and Nike, to understand how technology can create a more seamless purchase journey.”
Apps, she said, would also become increasingly powerful in elevating the in-store shopping experience of the future.
The promise in beauty tech was discussed at length in our recent exclusive Beauty 4.0 – Tech, Tools and Future Trends webinar with Sephora, Shiseido, Orveon, Mintel and The Virtual Events Group. You can still watch this in full on-demand by registering HERE.