MILAN — There’s always a reason to party.Estée Lauder had more than one in hosting a cocktail event at its new Italian store, which opened last month in Milan’s central Via Dante. The event was an occasion to celebrate the company’s first unit in Western Europe and enable Italian beauty aficionados to meet the brand’s global beauty director Violette, who counts more than 150,000 followers on Instagram.While her presence at the store dispensing makeup tips was an exception, local consumers can count on beauty experts and dedicated digital applications to get beauty suggestions on a daily basis.According to Estée Lauder’s Italian division director Fulvia Aurino, digital devices have been boosting sales at the unit in its first month. The executive said the store “is completely meeting what we had in mind” in terms of performance, but declined to disclose figures.“There are a few things we have [implemented] for the first time in here,” she said, mentioning Estée Lauder's YouCam app among them. Operative through a couple of iPads positioned on the store’s tables and color stations, the app enables women to try different shades of lipstick, without changing them, for instance.“We know that after two or three trials, consumers just get bored,” said Aurino, also underscoring the device’s social feature as users “can send to their own account the pictures with the shades they liked the most.”According to Aurino, this implementation impacted sales as the number of shades customers end up buying has increased.Similarly, the IMatch digital device allows customers to find the perfect shade for their skin type.“We will play more and more with these types of technologies, which are an integral part of the experience and of the service [we offer.] So they don’t replace the role of our beauty advisors but they just make the experience more fun,” said Aurino.The executive underscored the importance of offering experiences in the brick-and-mortar environment, also to diversify them from the online offer.“Online is growing fast and brings a lot of pluses in terms of convenience and, in some cases, also price advantages, but that’s not the game we want to play with our beauty boutique,” said Aurino.In particular, she addressed the heritage of the brand, tracking it back to “Mrs. Lauder, who created the company to actually offer the dream of making every single woman beautiful, and the way to do this is to know well the woman and offer the best possible advice.”The store offers beauty services — both free and charged — ranging from quick consultations with experts to one-hour treatments, including a Brow Bar service providing tips and suggestions for the care of eyebrows; quick masks trials; technical tutorials to eliminate under-eyes signs and specific lifting and rejuvenating treatments for face, neck, eyes and hands.“The way Mrs. Lauder created the brand was very much in welcoming people, and we still find that aspect in the boutique,” echoed Anne Troussicot, Estée Lauder EMEA’s vice president and general manager.Troussicot highlighted that consumers today are getting “back to basics” in requesting more attention to hospitality in stores, along with demanding “more authenticity and brands that are true to their DNA.”The executive explained why the company chose Milan to plant the flag in Western Europe. “Milan is the capital of fashion, a very influential city and it made a lot of sense also from a distribution prospective,” she said, adding that the beauty giant was “exploring new ways to bringing the Estée Lauder experience to life and this beautiful opportunity came up.”Aurino concluded by saying there won’t be other stores opening in Italy in the near future.
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