Clinique is diving into experimental retail with the opening of its first-ever pop-up on Feb. 7. The store will be dedicated to its new moisturizer product, Clinique iD.
Clinique iD, which launched in December 2018, was created, in part, to seize on the surging customization trend, as well as bring renewed relevance to the 50-year-old brand. The 10-day pop-up, located in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, serves as a way to continue that messaging. It will also be a test-bed for consumer experiences like virtual reality.
Though the brand has been “disproportionately affected” by the closure of retail partners like Bon Ton, according to Estée Lauder Companies’ 2019 first-quarter earnings, Clinique iD sales have exceeded expectations in several markets.
“Something we talk about internally is that, despite the challenges in retail, retail [itself] isn’t dead,” said Van Vahle, svp of consumer engagement and e-commerce for Clinique. “People are spending money, but boring retail is dead.”
The pop-up itself is designed to showcase the innovation and technology-focused concept behind Clinique iD. When visitors first walk in, they can access a consultation bar with tablets where they can tale a skin quiz. The results are matched to 15 possible moisturizer combinations, composed of three different moisturizer bases (lotion, gel or jelly texture) and five “concentrations” that treat skin issues. Clinique iD is the only product stocked in-store during the pop-up, but customers can order other Clinique products to be shipped to them at the location.
After visiting the consultation bar, visitors can have a virtual reality experience that is meant to mirror its recent influencer travel campaign. The global campaign featured 50 influencers including Alyssa Forever (@foreverflawlyss, 618,000 followers) and Deepica Mutyala (@deepica, 188,000 followers) in far-flung locations. The pop-up VR experience features the Icelandic portion of the trip.
“We wanted to gauge people’s appetite to put on goggles and take this VR experience,” Vahle said. “People are [interacting] with VR, but outside the gaming environment, what role does it play in experiential retail?” VR is an experience that has begun appearing more frequently within beauty retail, with L’Occitane and Coty, Inc. both recently engaging the technology.
Experiential retail has become more important than ever: According to research group PSFK, 80 percent of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Additionally, consumers are willing to spend up to 16 percent more on products and services with companies that offer a better environment.
“Pop-ups can be extremely important components of any brand strategy because as we continue to evolve into a truly digital world, physical stores provide a touchpoint for brand loyalty and engagement,” said Maya Mikhailov, chief marketing officer and co-founder of mobile commerce platform GPShopper. “These stores are also crucial in helping them reach a different, and younger, customer base. Younger consumers are part of a new generation that craves unique experiences as much as the products themselves.”
In addition to the New York pop-up, the brand is planning to open a larger scale, global pop-up campaign. Throughout the year, Clinique will pop up in international markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, China and Japan. (The brand has existing standalone brick-and-mortar stores in markets like Malaysia and Canada; but Clinique declined to specify how many.) In the U.S., there will also be a traveling pop-up from Feb. 9 to Feb. 27 that will appear for a few hours in high foot-traffic areas like the Facebook campus and the co-working space WeWork in Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“[This] is not just another Clinique counter in another location,” said Vahle. “It’s about [finding out] how to show up in a place we aren’t already and meet customers in a fresh way.”