Welcome to Glossy’s Beauty and Wellness Briefing. This exclusive and inside look at the beauty and wellness industries is meant to dig into the topics that really matter and shed light on the elephants in the room. Sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.
When Neiman Marcus debuted at Hudson Yards last month, one of the major draws of its new beauty department was the expansion of its beauty services offering. The retailer’s curated BLVD experience emphasizes standalone services, like blowouts and braids from Dreamdry, manicures by Valley Nails, eyelash extensions from Pucker and chemical peels and hair removal treatments by Spruce & Bond. Additionally, LED light treatment company LightStim’s beds and anti-aging lights (which are now being sold exclusively at Neiman Marcus and NeimanMarcus.com) are integrated in the retailer’s spa services.
Like Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue before it — both department stores have dramatically updated their beauty floors within the last year, with the help of new services — Neiman Marcus sees the “experience” as core to its beauty merchandising.
Coresight Research reported that in the first four months of 2019, U.S. retailers saw 5,994 store closures, compared to 5,864 closures for the entirety of 2018. Services in traditional department stores are being used to draw customers back into doors and increase engagement in these locations. What’s more, the hair styling and beauty treatments segment is booming. Between 2013 and 2018, the category grew by over 31%, and it’s expected to grow by more than 29% by 2030 to $89 billion in sales [using manufacturing sales price, or price minus sales tax, value-added tax and retailer and wholesaler markups], according to market research firm Euromonitor International.
“It’s bringing energy back into our store, and we’re seeing younger customers enjoy these curated experiences all in one place, versus having to go to multiple locations,” said Theresa Palermo, Neiman Marcus senior vice president over brand and digital marketing. “Five years ago, a customer may have wanted to have a specific beauty brand do a makeover, but now our services have evolved to have more of an experiential feel based on consumer demand.” Though the luxury retailer historically had an older clientele, Palermo said its customers today are younger: Fifty percent are millennials and Gen Xers.
Integrating standalone experiences into department stores is an interesting concept, considering what made the Drybars of the world successful is that they do one thing and do it well. Though Drybar, which does over 2 million blowouts a year and has over 100 locations, would not disclose financials, it was on track to surpass $100 in revenue in 2017.
“We wanted to offer the same great blowouts to every person, no matter where you went, so there was a level of expectation,” said Alli Webb, Drybar founder and CEO of the concept. “We weren’t interested in the business of multiple services.”
It’s worth noting that around the time Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards debuted with BLVD and LightStim, Webb unveiled her second standalone service experiment, Squeeze, a massage-only experience, in Brentwood, California. It exists outside of Drybar as its own entity, and Brittany Driscoll, former vice president of marketing at Drybar, serves as co-founder and CEO. “We know our strengths and weaknesses. We didn’t invent blowouts and we aren’t inventing massages, but nobody was doing it right. What we invented is a better, more customized experience that has quality control,” said Webb.
While Neiman Marcus would not share exact figures, it did say that through experiences like BLVD, it has seen an increase in time spent at its Hudson Yard location. Its Beverly Hills store is rolling out Chinese medicine treatments, like acupuncture and cupping through Vie Healing, this month. Interestingly, Neiman Marcus isn’t pushing additional product sales at these experiences, said Palermo. “There is no obligation for an additional purchase for the customer, so it is very different from what has existed for us in the past,” she said.
However, LightStim CEO Steve Marchese noted that now that its $6,500 pro-panel treatments and $65,000 beds are available at Neiman Marcus as of mid-April, it has sold two of the panel devices in less than a week. (The luxury retailer is the only other place outside of LightStim itself selling these devices.) “When we were thinking about places where we could sell something this expensive, we felt like Neiman’s and this store specifically was the only place it could work,” he said.
Stacie Bortek, Bloomingdale’s vice president and divisional merchandise manager of beauty and fragrance, shared similar sentiments of increased time spent and engagement within its expanded service offering. The 59th Street store now features six new branded spa rooms from the likes of La Mer and La Prairie, and an open skin-care format from Clarins within its ready-to-wear department. “Paid services are a growing segment of the business at Bloomingdale’s and across the board in beauty,” said Bortek. “Customers feel more engaged with a brand and our repeat visits and purchases are increasing.” In June, Bloomingdale’s will unveil its curated manicure and pedicure concept with OPI.
Some curated treatment concepts like SheSpoke, which creates customized lip and cheek products and offers professional makeup services, do see a strategic retail partnership with a department store as a way to increase awareness. “It would offer us the opportunity to test different markets and gives us more points of contact with customers,” said co-founder Stephanie March. SheSpoke, which relaunched in October 2018 from its prior iteration Rouge, has just one location in NYC’s SoHo neighborhood. Since last fall, the brand has found that around 70% of customers are repeat visitors. More locations, no matter the format, would accommodate for increased clientele.
Adam Ross, CEO of facial bar Heyday, is of a different mindset. “The idea of being a one-stop shop of being all things to all people has migrated, especially in markets like New York and L.A., because customers are more discerning,” he said. On April 24, Heyday opens its second California location in Brentwood, and it’s opening five more stores in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia this year. Services accounted for 70% of 2018 revenue (versus products sold in stores) and Heyday saw year-over-year growth in treatments reach 70% in 2018.
The facial brand has also recently seen that fostering their services via HeydaySkincare.com has helped significantly. At the end of 2018, the addition of its “Therapists” section of its website, which include biographies and imagery of its specialists increased time spent on its site by 20%.
“Specialization matters. For us, focusing on what we do unlike anyone else continues to work,” said Ross. “We don’t see ourselves as needing department stores to grow.”
— Priya Rao, beauty editor
3 questions with Erika Wasser, Glam+Go founder and CEO
Launched in 2015, blow-dry bar Glam+Go has found its footing in niche hospitality locations, like Equinox gyms and the Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel. In 2018, the brand expanded from seven to 14 locations — including three standalone stores — and earned $1.5 million in revenue. The company expects to double that in 2019 via expansion to 30 locations by the end of the year, in new markets such as Chicago, Boston and Austin. It plans to have 50 locations by 2020.
As it scales, the company is seeing traction with curated event activations. Glossy spoke with Erika Wasser, Glam+Go founder and CEO, to discuss how the brand is approaching a larger event strategy.
How is Glam+Go approaching in-store events?
We recently kicked off our events offering with a nationwide Girl’s Night Out event in March. Right now, we’re planning everything from networking to thought leadership [classes] to what we’re calling “beauty bunkers,” which are mini master classes where customers can become an expert in a smoky eye application or how to use a hair tool differently. A few weeks ago, our Brentwood location hosted an adoption event for shelter animals, so it runs the gamut. We are bringing this to our Tribeca location on May 25 and again to Brentwood in June, so this is already becoming a nice series for us.
Glam+Go began by partnering with gym or hospitality locations versus opening your own stores. Are you seeing more partnership requests from these types of places than in the past?
We built our reputation in the hospitality space, particularly in the high-end, luxury sector, so we’re seeing a lot of interest. When you’re looking to enter a partnership, it’s much easier for the other party to say yes when you can show why it’s not a risk. We’ve proven that we can be an asset to a property and be a valuable partner.
How are you marrying your new event strategy with these partners?
We always try to bring our [hospitality] partners in for these events. If we’re hosting an event within a hotel property, it makes sense to have them be a part of the event, whether that’s through food and beverage or even a DJ for a music event. Our partners also typically send invitations to the events to their marketing email lists, so having a presence at our events makes sense for them. We also have done fitness-adjacent events with partners like [co-working space] Luminary in New York, where we’ve executed post-workout blowouts for attendees. Working with partners helps the spaces feel cohesive within the property — attendees get a more holistic experience. Whether it’s highlighting the catering options available from our hospitality partners or offering fitness services, it helps reinforce where Glam+Go fits in a woman’s day. – Emma Sandler
What’s working now: 8Greens president and co-founder James Russell on repeat purchases
Earlier this month, wellness company 8Greens secured its first round of funding via an undisclosed minority investment from Prelude Growth Partners. With the influx of funds, the 4-year-old company has expansion plans on the horizon that start with a focus on digital and social marketing and also include an entry into other ingestible categories.
In 2015, 8Greens signature effervescent tablets were only available on 8Greens.com and at Nordstrom, but it is now sold on Amazon and at Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Anthropologie, Bergdorf Goodman and QVC. However, the brand’s own website continues to serve as a major sales driver without any digital marketing.
“In our first year, 52% of our sales were on our website, without doing any digital marketing,” said James Russell, president and co-founder of 8Greens. “We didn’t even expect to have sales on our website. We thought people would need to try our product before they bought it.” What’s more, the wellness company said over half of its 400% year-over-year growth is now coming from subscriptions or repeat visits, without any formalized sampling programs.
Russell declined to share further details about marketing, but 8Greens hired a new vice president of marketing, Kelly McDonnell, at the start of April. Her role will be to push new products out to market with a heavy focus on social media and one-to-one customer interactions. – Katie Richards
Inside our coverage
Sephora unveils its plans for its #SephoraSquad influencer program.
Wander Beauty sees its upcoming New York City pop-up as a way to drive e-commerce sales.
On our reading list
Dollar General launches Believe Beauty, its first private-label makeup line.
Unilever Ventures continues to invest in beauty. Australian skin-care brand Dr Roebuck’s is its latest target, following deals with Nutrafol and True Botanicals.
U.K.-based fast beauty brand, The Inkey List lands in the U.S. via Sephora.