CoverGirl opened its first brick-and-mortar retail store in Times Square on Black Friday, the latest move in a revival plan that kicked off last year.
The new store features the first usage of four different technologies by CoverGirl, including augmented reality and machine learning. There are augmented reality booths made in partnership with Holition that allow customers to try on makeup looks and a virtual greeter called Olivia co-created with Google and employs machine learning capabilities, in addition to booths for creating videos and GIFs and a booth to personalize makeup bags or lipstick packaging with a selection of designs. It is also the only place where CoverGirl’s full assortment of 1,000 products is sold. As a mass brand that sells in third-party retailers like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, the brand will have the opportunity to reach the consumer in a new way and better direct its new messaging, according to Ukonwa Ojo, CMO for consumer beauty at Coty Inc., CoverGirl’s parent company.
“We wanted people to be able to interact with the brand physically, emotionally and digitally,” she said. “We really wanted to have somewhere in the country where people could see the brand come to life and have the opportunity to try our products at scale.”
Ojo spoke with Glossy about who CoverGirl is trying to reach with the store, how the brand is collecting and using the data insights to inform its retail partners and how the creating experiences for consumers will deepen the connection the brand has with them.
How do you see beauty retail changing overall?
We are in an experiential economy, and retail gives us that opportunity to create that. Online, we can create unique experiences online, but this store allows us to have both a digital and physical experience and deepen the relationship we have with the people who love us and introduce our brand to people who have never tried us. We will keep experimenting with different types of technology — we are debuting four different types of technology in this physical space already.
Who are you trying to reach with a brick-and-mortar store?
We have a lot of people who are loyal customers to a particular product or particular segment but still haven’t introduced themselves to the variety of products. We have over 1,000 SKUs for CoverGirl, and there are very few people who have tried every single product. So even for the folks who already love us, being able to come to a beauty program where you can try everything and can also afford the products — that’s not something you can say for every beauty playground that exists in the world. This is the only place where you will see all 1,000 SKUs, and you can buy them all here.
What data are you collecting in the store? How will you use it?
We have a number of ways to continue to have conversations with people using interactive touch points. If you interact with any of our digital stations, we have the opportunity to continue to have the conversation with you, if you choose, because you’re [giving us] your email when sending yourself a photo. We also view the people who work here as an opportunity to get real-time feedback. You don’t need focus groups to do that — you can just have an assistant pull someone over and get that immediate feedback.
We will learn a ton about the people who love us, the people that choose us and the products they are loving, the information they would like more of and the products they want replenishment on. I suspect this store will be a good source of insights for innovation, for new products and new stories we may tell in the future.
Do you plan to use the information you’re getting from the store to your wholesale partners?
We get to take the insights that we learn from this store and take that nationally. We can tell them what we have learned and tell them an interesting way for them to merchandise product or a way to introduce a product or position it. There might even be an interesting technology [they could use] that we have tried. Now we have a real-life playground where we can try things, and when we get learnings, we can share that with retail partners.