How experiential beauty pop-ups are bringing customers back to the high street

Beauty retailers have been facing pressure from online and discount stores for years and are now finding creative ways to drive retail. Industry techniques in Insta-worthy pop-up shop design, limited edition products and live samples are bringing consumers back to brick-and-mortar. These innovations are creating social and intimate set-ups that capture more of the traditional salon than the harshly-lit cosmetics departments that we’re used to.

Customers are now finding the right product and receiving personalised consultations from trained make-up artists, a feature that gives retail the edge, while installations and limited-edition products are becoming powerful touchpoints for driving sales. These are the retail beauty brands making a true impact in converting customers to the high street.

Sephora’s Department Store Show

Credit: Daily Vanity

In 2018, Sephora’s Singapore Funhouse went full-circle with a department store set-up that showcased 10 brands’ boxed-sized self-expressions. Inspired by a fairground funhouse, this was an emporium of Insta shots designed for instant thrills and playful interaction.

After entering through a bespoke archway of giant lips decked over a rainbow pathway, guests were invited to experience live workshops by trained artists and explore each brand’s unique box. For, Tarte Cosmetics, this was an underwater rainforest, creating with a public pool filled with plastic orbs, azure lighting and marine props – an ultra-social experience with an aesthetic gesture to old-school bathhouses.

Chanel’s On-Brand Exhibition

Credit: Chanel

In their Le Rouge Pop-Up, Singapore 2018, Chanel curated an exhibition to the brand – a guided installation that showcased style, products and history.

The design was highly influenced by Parisian art deco bars showcasing interiors straight out of a cinematic smoking room. This spirit of 1920s indulgence was finished with a lip bar that encouraged fans to interact and exchange advice as they tried the products and received tutorials from guest make-up artists. The heavily-styled aesthetic provided great opportunities for selfies among bold brand designs.
The pop-up also incorporated limited edition products, including 10 super-size (30. 4 oz) Chanel No. 5 bottles – a true luxury for Chanel’s most loyal fans.

Glossier’s Cult Promo Drop

Images by Cayce Clifford

Set to launch their latest pop-up in London later this year, Glossier has positioned themselves as the cult beauty brand of 2019.

If their previous set-ups are anything to go by, their brand of ‘millennial pink’, which has dominated the palettes of their pop-up shop designs, will sum up the playful and carefree atmosphere inside. We can expect a bright and open setting, full of lo-fi havoc in keeping with their cult status. Their San Fransisco set-up was organised chaos, a free-for-all akin to a Highschool Girl’s Bathroom.

So, pop-up shop designs are revolutionising the beauty industry with important innovations for retail design. With DIY salon set-ups, they’ve created a super social environment – an unprecedented intimacy inside for fans. They’re also unrivalled in their ability to centre-piece products with limited edition sales and the try-before-buy salons, earning them an edge over online and discount stores. They can even facilitate old-style department store formats and create an opportunity for make-up artists. For the world of retail design, lessons can be learned from the current success of retail beauty pop-ups.