Clinique presents the laboratory concept at Macy’s – WWD

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One of beauty’s biggest players is reimagining physical retail, starting with Macy’s Inc.

Clinique, the largest prestige skincare brand in the United States, according to The NPD Group, as well as the second-largest makeup brand, launched a new retail concept at Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan.

Called The Lab, the concept is the product of a major overhaul of Clinique’s brand positioning, said Liz Nolan, Clinique’s global creative director.

“We started doing a lot of work redefining our brand positioning and our DNA, and the concept emerged alongside that brand definition work,” Nolan said. “It’s a tension between efficiency and optimism, and our goal in creating the lab was a retail concept that brought that to life.”

The space is divided into distinct zones, with an open and interactive approach to visual merchandising.

“Right now in retail, there’s a tension between in-person and digital experiences, as well as self-purchasing on the shelf. It encompasses all three,” said Sameer Agarwal, vice president of marketing at Clinique North America. “If you want our staff, it’s there. If you want people with digital interaction, this is it. If people want to do their own shopping on our shelves, it’s there. This design brings it all together.

Digitally, Clinique’s Clinical Reality technology scans customers’ faces to offer personalized product recommendations. In the center of the space, the Discovery Table offers a mix of heroes and novelties. Consultants also speak with customers at the community bar.

Agarwall added that similar concepts will be introduced at Clinique’s most important doors over the next three to four years.

The format was tested at the brand’s gates in China before coming to the United States. One of its advantages is that, given its modularity, it can be scaled up easily. “We can scale that from the largest full flagship execution to a single table on a back wall. When you have 25,000 distribution points around the world, you have to think about it,” Nolan said.

While this size has its strengths, it also presented creative challenges for Nolan. “The greatest blessing is our curse: we’re a brand everyone thinks they know,” she said. “It’s about creating something that people feel like they’ve never seen from the brand before. For this younger consumer, it might be, ‘Why don’t I know this brand?’ The goal was just to shape the perception.

Content also drove much of the merchandising. “There is a real wealth and depth of ingredient information, claims and that level of editorial content is layered throughout the experience,” Nolan said. “You can choose to engage or see a title and move on, and we’ve given different touchpoints for people to learn more about the brand.”

To that end, the discovery aspect also benefits Macy’s.

“We know our customers come to Macy’s for inspiration and advice to help them own their style. We are thrilled to offer our beauty customers this new Clinique experience in our flagship store. We are excited to continue to expand our strong relationship with Clinique and explore avenues to cultivate product innovation, providing our customers with best-in-class customer experiences and services,” said Nicolette M. Bosco, Vice President , cosmetics at Macy’s Inc., in an email.

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