As digitally native cosmetics brand Morphe expands its brick-and-mortar presence, it’s leveraging in-store video content studios to drive foot traffic.
“We want to prioritize having a studio in every market — a space for [customers] to engage with artistry, equipment and community,” said Emine ErSelcuk, Morphe vp of global retail. “Wherever we can, we have tried to prioritize the [creation of] studios.”
Morphe is amid rapid expansion. In 2017, the brand had only one store, in Burbank, California, but it’s on track to have 50 stores in four countries, including Australia, Canada and the U.K. by the end of 2019. Presently, in select stores, it has 12 studios in operation. These spaces offer free services like a 20-minute makeup application with a makeup artist and masterclasses on makeup-related skills, as well as the ability to book the studio for the filming of YouTube videos. The studio, which must be reserved online, offers professional lighting and film equipment, as well as on-site staff to help with content creation. By the end of 2019, Morphe expects to have 20 store studios up and running. The brand declined to state studio build-out costs. In August, Morphe received an undisclosed investment from private equity firm General Atlantic, and it’s on track to earn $500 million in net sales for the year, according to WWD.
Morphe has been offering the 20-minute services in all locations (with or without a studio) since the second quarter and has been monitoring the spend of service recipients, as well as sales and traffic uptick in stores, said ErSelcuk. She declined to elaborate on figures. Meanwhile, masterclasses began in September and are expected to be held three times per quarter per studio, with focuses on the Morphe brand, partner brands such as Jeffree Star Cosmetics and “merchandising priorities,” said ErSelcuk. While driving foot traffic is the biggest opportunity for Morphe, there are other benefits to the studios, she said: Morphe will likely benefit from high-quality, user-generated video content and will develop better relationships with the up-and-coming influencers using the space. Morphe does not require users to publish UGC or use only Morphe products, although it is expected that they will focus on the brand.
“The services, for us, are a point of difference,” she said. “And we believe the mid-tier influencers want a more public space to activate their community.”
Morphe’s newly implemented strategy is in line with a larger trend of fashion and beauty retailers updating their interiors to attract customers in-store, and it comes during a softening in U.S. color cosmetic sales. Fellow digitally native brand Ipsy has also been aggressively looking at ways to engage and activate customers offline and has positioned its own content studio as a way to produce user-generated content.
“We have tried to learn from the lessons of the industry headwinds, but we’re in a growth phase,” said ErSelcuk. “We’re very nimble and are determined to adjust to the trends we are seeing.”
The brand’s global retail expansion has been directly informed by its e-commerce sales, said Jennie Laar, Morphe vp of wholesale. In September, the brand expanded to Australia, through both through multi-brand retailer Mecca as well as its own stores, with two in Melbourne. Laar declined to cite sales figures but said Australians, “spend more money on cosmetics, per capita, than any other country globally.”
Morphe also has plans to expand into New Zealand. However, no timeline has been set.