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Clinique Debuts New Retail Concept With Macy’s

The retail concept, dubbed "The Lab," will be rolled out to Clinique's top doors in the next three to four years.

One of beauty’s biggest players is rethinking brick-and-mortar retail, starting with Macy’s Inc.

Clinique, the U.S.’s largest prestige skin care brand, per The NPD Group, as well as the second largest in makeup, has debuted a new retail concept at Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan.

Called The Lab, the concept is the product of a deep rethink of Clinique’s brand positioning, said Liz Nolan, Clinique’s global creative director.

“We started to do a lot of work to redefine our brand positioning and DNA, and the concept emerged in parallel with that brand definition work,” Nolan said. “It’s a tension between efficacy and optimism, and our goal in creating the lab was a retail concept that brought that to life.”

The space is broken up into distinctive zones, with an opened-up and interactive approach to visual merchandising.

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“Right now, in retail, there’s a tension between in-person and digital experiences, as well as self-shopping from shelves. This embraces all three,” said Sameer Agarwal, vice president of marketing at Clinique North America. “If you want our staff, that’s there. If you want people with a digital interaction, that’s there. If people want to self-shop from our shelves, that’s there. This design brings it all together.”

On the digital front, Clinique’s Clinical Reality technology scans customers’ faces to offer customized product recommendations. At the center of the space, the Discovery Table offers a mixed bag of heroes and new products. Consultants also speak with customers at the Community Bar.

Agarwall added that similar concepts will be introduced to Clinique’s most important doors in the next three to four years.

The format was piloted in the brand’s doors in China before coming to the U.S. One of its advantages is that given its modularity, it can be scaled easily. “We can scale this from the greatest flagship, full-blown execution, down to just one table on a back wall. When you have 25,000 global points of distribution, you need to think about that,” Nolan said.

While that size comes with strengths, it also posed creative challenges for Nolan. “The biggest blessing is our curse: we’re a brand everybody thinks they know,” she said. “It’s about creating something that people feel they haven’t seen from the brand before. For that younger consumer, it might be, ‘Why don’t I know this brand?’ The goal was just to shape up the perception.”

Content drove much of the merchandising as well. “There’s a real richness and depth of ingredient information, claims and that level of editorial content is layered throughout the experience,” Nolan said. “You can choose to engage or see a headline and move on, and we’ve given different touch points for people to learn about the brand.”

To that end, the discovery aspect is equally advantageous to Macy’s.

“We know our customer is coming to Macy’s for inspiration and guidance to help them own their style. We’re excited to provide our beauty customers with this new Clinique experience at our flagship. We’re thrilled to continue expanding our strong relationship with Clinique and exploring avenues to cultivate product innovation, providing our customers with best-in-class customer experiences and service,” said Nicolette M. Bosco, vice president, cosmetics at Macy’s Inc., in an email.

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