Space for a Makeover?

Pearlfisher’s Sophie Maxwell provides a rundown on retailers’ most important makeover: their selling space.

by Sophie Maxwell

Trailblazing once again, Sephora recently unveiled a new mobile look—with a new website, iPhone app, in store iOS device… and, most notably, a test introduction of iPads to give the client another way to navigate Sephora’s thousands of products. Bridget Dolan, vice president, Interactive Media, Sephora, said “We’re bridging the online and offline world, and making it as easy as possible to find the products you want, in a way that’s cool, familiar, and helpful.”(Source: PR Newswire, April 2012).

Sephora continues to innovate and maximize its digital presence but never to the detriment or neglect of its physical space. And, many more beauty retailers are now raising their game to once again focus on real retail and to making over that all-important physical space.

Retailers need to remember to look at their brands in totality and remain true to values throughout the entire brand environment. Design of the retail space can be used to create a seamless brand experience, where everything from the biggest ideas to the finest details feels cohesive and builds upon the larger brand ideals.

The Brand Experience
Retail giant John Lewis has just revamped its beauty hall. Gone are the walkways and the somewhat clinical feel that characterized the department of old. The new space is built around the concept of a “town square,” with premium cosmetics brands positioned like “houses” around a central area focused on fragrance and niche assortments such as hair care, skincare and nails.

“We wanted to create something that would give you a John Lewis brand experience when you first walked in, before allowing you to filter off into the individual brands.” (Quote GP Studio/Source: Design Week)

And while many may not immediately think of M&S as the first stop for beauty, this summer the British retail icon debuted its new beauty retail concept. Named “Your Beauty: The Best of Nature & Science,” the new retail concept offered 14 own-brand product lines, as well as 25 to 30 independent brands (many of which made their U.K. retail debut). The move mirrored the store’s recent introduction of multi-brand food and household products.

More notably, the excellent floor design divides the space into three inspirational and aspirational sections—Well-being, Performance and Lifestyle—and offers interactive screens where customers can upload a photograph of themselves and test out makeup—virtually.

By approaching brand space in the right way, you can overshadow your competitors and reinforce your ownership of the aisles. You can exert control over the environment and retail space that your products exist in and develop the space in a way that is crucial to distinguishing your brand.

Retail brands are living, breathing experiences. They grow, evolve and create multi-sensorial worlds for us to enter. And it is of growing importance for physical experiences to offer what virtual cannot, to design experiences to engage the senses, to fulfill and enrich, and ultimately to immerse us and become part of our lives.

About the Author: Sophie Maxwell is insight director at Pearlfisher –