Over the past couple of years, Target has overhauled its entire beauty department in a bid to redefine the mass market shopping experience. But that was simply to set the stage of what was to come. In the last year, Target expanded its premium skin-care assortment, anchored by AmorePacific’s Laneige range from South Korea, and broadened its offerings of naturals and multicultural beauty and grooming products. Among the additions: lines such as Nuxe, S.W. Basics of Brooklyn, Charles Worthington London Salon at Home, Carol’s Daughter and Walker & Co. brands. The retailer also signaled its intent to double down in beauty, acquiring the Sonia Kashuk brand after more than 15 years as its exclusive retail partner. The move creates a platform for Target to strengthen its product design and development skills, and could mean more proprietary lines are to come. Said Brian Cornell, chief executive officer of Target, “This acquisition solidifies a key differentiator within our beauty business.”
Axel Dumas represents the sixth generation of his family to lead Hermès, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about his approach to retailing. In September, Hermès opened a next- generation Parfumerie in Manhattan’s Brookfield Place, its first store devoted solely to beauty and also its first to use extensive interactive digital displays. Why New York? Aside from the fact that the U.S. is one of Hermès’ largest fragrance markets, Brookfield offers luxury neighbors and plenty of foot traffic. “With the revitalization of downtown and what they are doing here at Brookfield Place, we thought it was a great space to do the first perfumerie,” said Robert Chavez, U.S. president, who didn’t rule out more openings. “Based on early reaction, it could possibly be a concept we would roll out to other parts of the U.S. and perhaps even other parts of the world.”
Ulta Beauty may already be one of the fastest- growing retailers in the U.S., but it’s just picking up speed when it comes to expanding its presence across the U.S. In 2014, sales reached $3.24 billion, a 21 percent gain over the prior year; total same-store sales, including e-commerce, gained 10 percent during the year. That’s exactly the path that chief executive officer Mary Dillon has strategized. “We are not complacent,” she said earlier this year. “We’re always going to be in a mode of testing and experimentation. We can’t stand still.” The chain expects to drive comparable sales in the range of 8 to 10 percent this year and aims to reach 1,200 doors by 2019. The effort is paying off. “It’s the best box out there,” said Oppenheimer analyst Rupesh Parikh, calling it the go-to place for suburban beauty enthusiasts. “It continues to enhance its merchandising, which is one of the keys to their success.”
Who says there’s fashion and there’s beauty and never the twain shall meet? Since launching the beauty category three years ago under the direction of David Olsen, vice president of global beauty and grooming, the high-style e-commerce site Net-a-porter has carved out a thriving beauty business. Its approach: Rigorously curate the best products from the most luxe lines, an approach that seems to be working. It’s amassed more than 380,000 beauty customers and counting, with an average household income of $300,000 and higher. Net-a-porter has also been successful in attracting a global clientele, with 40 percent of its sales coming from the U.S., 40 percent from the U.K. and Europe and 20 percent from the Asia-Pacific region. And while still small in terms of some more established retailers, Net-a-porter has proved it can move the merch — just ask Hourglass, whose Ambient Palette, all 1,000 of them, sold out in one day flat.