As 15,000 beauty junkies descended upon Meccaland in Sydney last weekend, they were hit with a vibrant feast for the senses: a giant tunnel of flashing lights, a bright pink Mecca-branded ferris wheel, a glittering disco dancefloor, a fabulous drag queen called Karen from Finance, joyful Mecca staff on rollerskates, 100 oversized inflatable lips suspended in the air and far more. The energy was palpable.
As Beyonce pumped over the speakers and Mecca staff danced and cheered through the night, attendees were led on a technicolour journey of discovery through five immersive worlds, featuring a plethora of Instagram-worthy activations from 40 covetable brands offering exclusive product. Brands offered complimentary facials, makeovers, massages and samples.
Attendees also had the opportunity to learn from and rub shoulders with more than 170 brand ambassadors and local and international influencers through a jam-packed program of educational masterclasses, workshops and panel discussions.
Mecca founder Jo Horgan described Meccaland as “the most extraordinary success” and she is thrilled with how the beauty festival unfolded over the weekend.
“Customers have an insatiable appetite for new experiences, education and access to brand founders. They just embrace every aspect of Mecca so wholly that the key question is what do we take from their behaviour and what they’ve implicitly told us?” she told Inside Retail.
“I cannot tell you the richness of material we can take from this and expand on. I feel like I’ve had a ‘retail of the future 101’ crash course over the weekend, and I feel like the consumer insights have absolutely hit me over the head in a way that no customer study could have done.”
Right now, Horgan is gathering insights from the event and considering where to take Meccaland in the future. As she explained, the business is constantly trying to challenge itself and innovate further.
“If we were to do this again in its current form, what would it look like? And if we were to push ourselves and innovate further, what would that look like? And if we were to completely blow it up and say we can’t in any way rely on Meccaland, what would we do?” she pondered.
“On one level, I’m dying to do another one. I have never been to a better party in my life. I just loved every second of it!”
Marketing expert Emma Sharley attended the event and was impressed by the brand’s ability to tap into their loyal community and create unique experiences specifically aimed at them.
“Meccaland represents retail of the future – blending immersive experiences and shopping through limitless creativity, high-impact surroundings, meaningful conversation, and human-centred technology,” she said. “Ninety per cent of shoppers are vocal about stand-out experiences. No doubt the effects will extend well beyond the weekend. Unique, tribe-building experiences can be one of the best ways to connect with today’s shopper.
A thank you to customers
While Horgan declined to share sales figures from the event, she did reveal that the festival certainly motivated customers to buy more product than they normally would in-store.
“We did not put Meccaland on to drive sales, because it was born from this idea on our 20th birthday [in 2017] of how we could thank customers for supporting Mecca all these years.
The idea mushroomed so much so that it became its own entity,” she said. “What I can say is that when you do engage the customer so completely, the customer instinctively knows you’ve gone above and beyond for them. They embrace every aspect of it and want to walk away with more than they would normally purchase in a traditional shopping experience.”
While exclusive products were available at the event, based on insights from last year’s Meccaland, it was clear that customers still wanted to access Mecca’s full product line-up so a store was built at this year’s festival, offering the majority of cosmetics “and it was absolutely slammed”, Horgan added.
When Meccaland first launched in Melbourne last year and 7000 tickets were sold, Horgan revealed in an interview with Inside Retail earlier in the year that 98 per cent of attendees transacted.
“If you looked at the stats, one in two women in Australia saw it on social. It had over 70 million impressions the four days it was on. It catapulted Mecca to have the second-highest engagement rates globally in cosmetics.”
While Meccaland took place in Sydney this year, the festival will continue in selected Westfield stores around the country and New Zealand this month, with various after-party events, including complimentary beauty applications, consultations, samples and free product offers.
“At Westfield, providing unique and memorable experiences for our customers is at the heart of everything we do, so partnering with Mecca to bring this experience to customers who may not have otherwise had the opportunity, is incredibly exciting to us,” said Bronwyn Cooper, head of brand experience content and programming at Scentre Group.
“The #MECCALAND After Parties will be an extension of the main event and will be tailored to each individual centre and the interests and tastes of its community. We’re looking forward to seeing the fun unfold across Australia and New Zealand next month.”