An 8-week professional industry Live Client Brief with Estee Lauder Companies to dechipher what The Cosmetic Companies’ store of the future will consist of, look like, and behave as. The final presentation was at the London head office infront of: the Store Design and Visual Merchandising Director, the Creative Operations Executive,  the Visual Merchandising Design Manager, my course’s Principal Lecturer, and round 20 other students who took part in the same brief. 

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The Skills:

  • Team Manager
  • Project Researcher
  • Trend Forecaster
  • Graphic Design
  • Store Design
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Marketing Strategist  
  • Organisation
  • Presenting

The Brief:

Explore and propose what The Cosmetics Company Store’s (TCCS) store-of-the future should be. The biggest challenge is never knowing what product assortment can be guaranteed, so flexibility is key. Feed the proposal into a 3-year strategic plan to adapt the existing Cosmetics Company estate, also ensuring proposals for future estate expansion and evolution.

The presentation will be in-person at the Estee Lauder head office to the clients, course tutors, and course peers. 

 The Story:
My group and I began by gathering secondary research; looking at market reports, consumer surveys, and industry news. This gave us a broad overview of the current landscape and helped us identify key trends and patterns. We organised our insights into the following pillars: The Outlet Model, consumers’ outside interests, a hyperphysical era, the Lipstick Effect, and shifting priorities.

From analysing competitors and looking at luxury retail spaces such as L'occitane, Miss Circular, and Glossier, we then conducted our primary research through consumer surveys and interviews. This allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of their attitudes towards beauty and luxury, and what they are looking for in cosmetic spaces. 

We discovered the following primary insights:

  1. Product > Brand: 72% of 50 consumers surveyed prioritise this. Improved shopping convenience will be achieved through switching the visual merchandising focus.

  2. Expert Thoughts: Interviews with beauty advisors at John Lewis + Boots believe store futures will be multipurpose, offering personalisation + education, leading to enhanced self-confidence in consumer purchasing decisions.

  3. Reaching the 16%: By focusing on promoting limited-edition stock = an incentive of a unique shopping experience for consumers that don't currently visit retail outlets.

4. Rounded Features: Competitor store visits highlighted 1 key feature of luxury spaces: rounded edges + circular fixtures. Circle theories signify direct connotations of: stability, community, collaboration. Switching to these features creates a welcoming space, combating the stigma of luxury retail being daunting.

Using these insights, we then used idea generation techniques to brainstorm a variety of different concepts. We considered everything from store layout and design, to product offerings and customer service. We concluded that the solution would be ‘To create an omni-lux experience revolved around you: design, digital, discovery’.

We focused on this because according to the experimental marketing theory, personal experiences, also known here as discoveries, lead to a stronger emotional connection between consumers and brands.

For the store re-design we focused on flexibility and circularity, and we divided our improvement areas into three sections:

1. Limitless spaces: shifting the in-store journey - DESIGN

We wanted the store layout to foster collaboration and appeal to a broader customer base, emphasising flexibility to accommodate TCCS’ unique selling proposition of never knowing what stock is coming in. This flexibility is achieved through features like LED window vinyls, adjustable curtains for events, and movable digital screens that display variable content relevant to the season, date, or product focus. These screens also serve as flexible dividers, allowing easy modification of the store's layout and focus.

In addition, we're introducing a circular theme in our branding and store design to symbolise wholeness, balance, inclusivity, and unity, enhancing the store's approachability and promoting a community feel.

Our collaboration with interior architecture student Emily Booth has resulted in a design that incorporates these elements into a functional, attractive space. Notable updates include product-based categorisation for easier shopping, a fragrance section organized by scent, a skincare sampling area with AI recommendations, and a cashless payment system for improved convenience.

The redesign, featuring curved layouts, aims to create a seamless, engaging shopping experience that encourages exploration and makes the store easier to navigate. This design strategy leverages psychological principles to influence customer behavior positively, encouraging comfort and confidence in purchase decisions.

2. Omni-lux tailoring: personalise your store experience - DIGITAL 

Apps play a crucial role in the omnichannel strategy. By integrating hyperphysical experiences it allows customers to transition effortlessly between in person and online. For example, customers can start browsing products on the app, add items to their cart, and later complete the purchase in-store or online. Push notifications can be sent directly to customers' devices, notifying them of new product arrivals, special promotions, and limited-time offers. This real-time communication can be highly effective in capturing customers' attention and driving them to make purchases.

By integrating a loyalty club into the brand, this can incentivise customers to make repeat purchases and engage further. The app can track customer activities, reward points, and offer exclusive discounts or perks to loyal customers, fostering stronger brand loyalty and increasing customer retention.

The three tiers, luxe, premium, supreme unlock customisable rewards.

3. Enhancing consumer' experience: specialist consultations and exlusive events - DISCOVERY

Discover in-store experiences. The store would focus on providing consumers with a comprehensive beauty experience beyond the typical product purchasing. The specialist consultations would offer personalised advice on skincare routines and makeup techniques, with trained staff members to help customers find the best products for their needs. These consultations could be offered as complimentary or at a fee, depending on the service provided.

In addition to the consultations, discover the retreats: a curated Event Programme offering unique, immersive and innovative beauty experiences. Makeup masterclasses and skincare workshops to personalised consultations and product launches, events are tailored to meet individual needs and desires. The bookable Retreats are in partnership with renowned beauty experts and innovative wellness spaces. They offer a chance to connect with customers on a deeper level and provide a unique and memorable experience that keeps them returning. Such events would be a great way for a brand to collaborate with hotels spas across the UK, beverage brands, restaurants or other lifestyle companies that would supply the events.

The #RevolvedAroundYou Campaign:

The campaign hashtag will be pushed through the new social media channels of Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. The meaning behind it is to focus on the store's omni-lux loop - an all-rounded, tailored experience for the consumers. This promotes the prestige status, and here promotion of the limited-edition stock and prices will be pushed.

Known exclusivity will generate a sense of urgency among consumers. It creates a fear of missing out, also known as FOMO - a term very commonly used within younger generations - benefitting the wide target audience range. This FOMO will drive impulse purchases and excitement, with the hopeful achievement being word-of-mouth and social posts to promote the USP further, and at a very low cost. Here we would suggest reaching out to wellness and beauty influences, both male and female, by offering paid partnership opportunities to further target both consumers further.

Strategy Timeline:

Our strategy timeline looks at the store development over three years.

Within 3 weeks, VM alterations should be achieved, and launching the brand socials and new branding can be achieved almost instantly

Within 2 years, the store refit, loyalty scheme and bookable consultations should be ready.

Finally, looking at long term plans, the focus would be  refined digitalisation features, the external out-of-store 'retreats' and the expansion of stores with a focus on city centre locations for improved accessibility.

Measuring Success:

Tracking footfall + sales

Analyse online store + app reviews

Audit event interests + signup figures