Estée Lauder, a favorite cosmetic supplier of middle-aged females, along with additional brands under its corporate umbrella including Clinique, MAC and Estée Lauder are moving in a new, more youthful, direction. The company plans to install express lines and revamped sales counter designs that appeal to younger shoppers (with, presumably, shorter attention spans) in the coming weeks by eliminating the constant offers of perfume sprays and assistance.
Rather than the brand’s (and its cohorts’) traditional sales pitch – the heavily-made-up-consultant-gives-you-a-makeover — consumers can expect to encounter an independent, less personal retail experience. Muriel Gonzalez, chief beauty merchant of Macy’s, a long-time supplier of Estée Lauder brands, noted that “[Macy's] see[s] younger consumers in particular who like to test and play on their own, so we’re working closely with manufacturers to accommodate that.” It can be assumed that the project was influenced by the retail triumph of stores like Sephora that allow visitors to freely dabble with the array of products sold without pressure to purchase. As consumer preferences changed, department stores felt compelled to accommodate.
In addition to participating with Macy’s, the Clinique counter at Manhattan’s Bloomingdale’s flagship now features an express line, a browsing area sans lurking makeup artists, as well as a consultation section. Product prices are clearly displayed, a welcome change eliminating the somewhat awkward practice of asking. Clinique employees have also been trained to complete a transaction in one minute. MAC, another Estée Lauder line, is experimenting with hand-held devices that allow shoppers to independently ring up their purchases.
The makeup giant has also recently experimented with online and television promotions to see what attracted consumers, and saw its greatest success with Clinique for QVC.
Now the question remains: will these “modern” implementations encourage consumer independence and boost sales? Or confuse shoppers unused to self-service cosmetics?