Kicking off on April 27, Meccalife will feature a series of 50 in-store and virtual services as an “ode to wellness”, including educational workshops with beauty brand founders, a movement masterclass with First Nations choreographer Amrita Hepi, an immersive fragrance tour and a panel discussion on gut health and superfoods with celebrity chef Donna Hay.
As part of Meccalife, two new services will also launch at the Sydney George Street flagship store, in partnership with luxury wellness destination Gwinganna Retreat and the Fertility Suite, which provides natural healthcare services to “help women reach their fertility goals”. Meanwhile, a living art installation combined with air purifying herbs will take over the George Street store for three days.
In addition, the brand will also launch its national in-store collection program with TerraCycle, where customers can drop in any brand of beauty packaging to be recycled. The launch is a permanent extension of Mecca’s trial with TerraCycle, which has been running in selected stores since 2019.
Beauty retail in the time of coronavirus
Despite Covid, beauty brands around the world have been upping the ante in the past year as sales skyrocketed through the roof and consumers indulged in self-care from the safety of their bathrooms at home. During the peak of the pandemic, savvy retailers like Mecca embraced livestreaming and experimented with virtual events and digital tools to continue engaging with customers.
“In a bid to cut through all the online noise, both retailers and brands are having to behave more like TV producers or networks, creating must-watch content, sharing stories, exclusives and a sense of ‘conversational commerce’ learning from the evolution of home shopping networks, because people are more likely to buy from a brand they can chat with,” said Michelle Bower, associate director from London creative agency Dalziel and Pow.
“Activities such as creating virtual platforms, communities, live streaming and offering tutorials from experts in their fields, have all created better engagement, connecting customers with brands and make-up artists. Recently, John Lewis and Charlotte Tilbury hosted the UK’s largest ever beauty masterclass with 10,000 people signed up to ‘brush along at home’. It’s been great to see retailers quickly facilitate online consultations, with bookable one-on-one with experts providing the same quality of service, just virtually.”
However, as restrictions lifted around the world, major beauty retailers have unveiled new bricks-and-mortar store concepts. Last year, Harrods launched its H Beauty store concept in Essex, complete with Champagne Bar and Insta-worthy installations; Ulta in the US announced its partnership with Target; Sephora’s flagship store in Sydney underwent a major design transformation and Mecca opened the doors to its four-storey flagship store on George Street. The one thing these bricks-and-mortar stores all have in common? A focus on services and experiences, from blowdries and ear piercing to make-up masterclasses, skin consultations and facials.
“Physical retail post-Covid is all about leveraging the unique aspects of physical environments and personal interaction to create a unique and engaging experience that consumers can’t get through other channels,” noted Dr Jason Pallant, senior lecturer at Swinburne University.
“It’s not about stores competing with other channels or trying to be everything to everyone. It’s about blending the strengths of stores with technology and experiences to create a compelling reason for consumers to close their laptop and leave their house.”
Bower added that modern physical retail still needs to work with the other elements within the brand’s wider ecosystem, from creating EDMs and social content that people want to read to desirable products they want to buy.
Pallant also pointed out that according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month, 94 per cent of people are still making one or more precautions against Covid and 66 per cent are still keeping their physical distance from others. It’s still crucial for retailers to continue making customers feel safe in their bricks-and-mortar environments.
Convenience still key
Convenience is top of mind for many physical retailers, especially as some consumers will be more cautious and conscious of how and why they shop. For example, now that Ulta has a presence in Target, its customers can take advantage of the discount department store’s free services, such as curbside pickup. The ideal physical store environment is one which supports convenience, experience and discovery, said Bower.
“[Convenience] may be around our perception of time and effort and can be viewed as ‘time well saved’– contactless payments, easy returns, stock availability and new locations all support this,” suggested Bower.
“In terms of the experience, shoppers will be considering whether it is ‘time well spent’. Does going in-store add value through elements such as discovery, services, consultation, social engagement or just pure escapism? The ability to service both mindsets and journeys, one driven by convenience and another by experience, but also allowing the two to blur if needed.”