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How Throwing a Beauty Festival Upped Mecca’s Retail Sales

Mecca cochief executive officer and founder Jo Horgan shares insights on Meccaland, Australia's first beauty festival, at WWD's 2018 Beauty CEO Summit.

In celebration of Mecca’s 20th birthday this year, cochief executive officer and founder Jo Horgan wanted to do something beyond the walls of a retail space. So she decided to throw a massive beauty party in a warehouse where Justin Bieber once held an after party.

In April, Mecca Brands hosted Meccaland, Australia’s first full-blown beauty festival. Following a week-long social media teaser campaign, Mecca went live with festival ticket sales and within the first 15 minutes, sold all 7,000 tickets, priced at 50 Australian dollars, or about $38, each. The brand enlisted five of Australia and New Zealand’s top beauty influencers to be the face of Meccaland and with their help, the social momentum continued throughout the festival’s four days — and beyond.

Meccaland saw nearly 10,000 visitors, who were granted access to 25 brand installations, selfie testing moments, a makeup artist competition, YouTube-sponsored sessions on how to become a beauty influencer, panels, dance troops, glitter artists and Mecca merchandise.

“We think we went through about three tons of glitter,” Horgan said. “I still find glitter and tinsel in my Meccaland shoes that I wore.”

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She estimated the sales conversion was 91 percent, with customers spending more than twice as much as they do in stores. Attendees — and the glambassadors — also generated plenty of social buzz.

Mecca received 1 million views across its own YouTube channel and those of its influencers. It also achieved 14 million Mecca-generated impressions over the four-day period, which translated to more than triple Mecca’s normal amount. It had a social reach of 2 million people a day — noteworthy, Horgan said, as there are only 4.5 million women on Instagram in Australia.

Overall, Horgan estimated that Meccaland scored a social engagement reach of 70 million across all of its platforms over the four-day festival period.

“Customers voted with their feet, their wallets and their phones and told us loud and clear that Meccaland is exactly the type of experience they’re looking for,” she said, adding that she and her team are now working on adapting this in their stores.

“Creating a physical festival with digital front and center paid off big time in terms of reach and engagement,” she continued. “It confirms what we all know and that is digital is critical to any and all activities — the more the better.”

Horgan said that inviting customers to share an experience outside of the retail space ultimately paid off sales-wise. In the month since the festival, Mecca’s sales across all of its 90 stores have increased more than 10 percentage points and even more online. Throughout the month of May, the physical stores are holding Meccaland after parties, which include in-store merchandise, limited-edition products, events, dances and DJs.

We have to think outside the retail box to make retail work,” she said.