By  on March 4, 1994

NEW YORK -- While mass market retailers and manufacturers are staffing drugstores with cosmeticians to build an aura of service, many in the prestige arena are taking the opposite approach.

For a few years, companies such as Estee Lauder, Prescriptives, Christian Dior and Elizabeth Arden have been adding self-service displays to their department store counters.

Meanwhile, retailers such as Federated, R.H. Macy & Co. and Parisian are increasing open-sell options by building self-service bath and body boutiques or freestanding cosmetics displays.

"Open sell is something that is still pretty new to us," said Rita Burke, senior vice president and divisional merchandise manager of Macy's East. "Arden Spa was the first time we went into open sell, and we have been perfecting it ever since."

"Bath and body products really lend themselves to open sell," said Michelle Williams, merchandise manager of fragrance and cosmetics for Federated Merchandising. "We're finding that both the products and the self-service environment they are merchandised in seem to attract a younger consumer."

In the spring of 1992, Arden launched its Arden Spa line and became one of the first prestige manufacturers to integrate self-service with traditional department store techniques. The Spa collection is available both at the counter and in freestanding fixtures.

"We felt that the nature of the products made the Spa line conducive to self-service," said John Turcotte, vice president and general manager of the Arden Spa and Sunflowers brands. "These products don't require the same type of explanation and instruction that treatment or color do, and because of the bath specialty stores, people are used to being able to smell and touch the products."

Depending on the store, the stands are either positioned close to the Arden counter or near another high-traffic area in the store.

"Both positions have their benefits and their drawbacks," Turcotte said. "When it is near the counter, the cosmetician can more easily remerchandise it or assist consumers if they have questions. When it is in another area, it may not be fixed up as quickly, but it can draw another consumer who might not have been headed over to our counter.

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