Skip to main content

Lessons Learned at New York’s Story Will Translate Into Mass Retailing

For Coty, Story is a learning lab that will live on in brick-and-mortar and online retail partners.

More to the Story: Coty Shows
Shannon Curtin

Coty Inc. is ready to reveal the next chapters for four of its key mass-market logos — Cover Girl, Rimmel London, Sally Hansen and Clairol.

In fact, Coty is the sponsor of the ever-changing retail concept called Story as it unveils its first beauty installation. The company hopes ideas floated at the temporary space will spin off to retail doors.

“Beauty Story” opened on the Tenth Avenue site Sept. 7 and will run through Oct. 15. It is the 35th retail interpretation at Story, the brainchild of Rachel Shechtman, who merchandises the 2,000-square-foot space as an ever-changing destination for big and small companies to present their wares in a gallery-inspired format. In an interesting twist, Coty’s products are not for sale, rather they are there to be discovered. An array of other items such as Byredo, Diptyque, Indie Lee, One Two Lash, Patchology and Vintner’s Daughter are available for sale.

For Coty, the space yields a chance to give consumers — especially the throngs attending New York Fashion Week in nearby venues — a glimpse of how the company is being reworked since it assumed ownership of 41 former Procter & Gamble brands. Not only did Coty have to assimilate the brands, some of which had lost sales and shelf space, but it also had to put attention back into its own mass logos. There are some brands especially feeling the pinch. According to IRI data for multiunit doors for the 52-week period ended July 9, Cover Girl sales were off in just about every beauty subsegment. Rimmel’s report card showed some growth in categories such as concealers and brows, but declines in bronzers and powders.

You May Also Like

Coty likes to highlight some of the milestones over the past year — some of which are on display at Story. At the top of the list is Color Crave, a semipermanent and wash-off color that is bringing in a much-needed new target market to hair color, Generation Z. There’s also a new edgy social campaign in support of the bold Rimmel London line. For Cover Girl, the choice of some unexpected influencers such as male makeup artist James Charles and Nura Afia, an American beauty vlogger who wears a hijab, created a buzz.

Looking ahead, Coty believes the speed that it brought experiences to life at Story is indicative of the turbo-charged efforts to restore Coty’s luster.

WWD talked with Shannon Curtin, senior vice president, North America, Consumer Beauty at Coty about how Story can benefit retail partners down the road, the tweaks to the mass brand portfolio and how success isn’t only about the bottom line.

More to the Story: Coty Shows
Coty is the sponsor of “Beauty Story.”

WWD: How did Coty come to be part of Story?

Shannon Curtin: I had a chance to meet Rachel [Shechtman] about five months ago and went to Story and checked out the in-store experience. Being a former retailer [Curtin held executive roles at Walgreens and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.] I get lots of inspiration from in-store experiences. I liked how they were able to tell the story between product, experiences and inspiration in a way that walking through the store, it feels like you are in a magazine. Each section is as if you are flipping [through] the pages of a magazine and seeing how each section is curated. I asked if they had ever done a beauty story and they had not.

WWD: Why was the timing right now?

S.C.: Next month marks one year as a new company. It is a great way for us to celebrate the work we’ve accomplished for our consumers and our customers in a way for people to see the entire house instead of individual brands. It is a chance to celebrate the innovations we’ve launched in such a short period of time and show what we are working on for the future. Any consumer can walk in and see product from various price points. It is a unique way to start a social conversation and show the new Coty is doing something different and unexpected. We will carry forth when Story comes down within a month. It is a learning lab. The elements will live on in brick-and-mortar retail partners and online. When retailers say, “I want that, too,” we can say we know how to make that happen.

WWD: From start to finish, Story came together in 90 days. Is the speed in getting this together indicative of a Coty that will be able to bring innovations to the mass market faster and keep up with nimble indie contenders?

S.C.: Modern-day retail is about redefining speed. How you take a blank piece of paper and make something special and unique in 90 days is what it is all about. People are looking for experiences and to engage with product and share those experiences with friends. That’s what brought this together for me.

At Coty, we created a start-up inside our business around social listening, micro listening and we are able to turn that into a story format within 72 hours and get those stories out fast and unique to what we are able to do.

The speed that the indy brands have shown the industry has made all of us better and we continue to push that boundary. We are able to do what seemed impossible for a traditional company. We’re making that possible. We’re energized by the chance to show our speed, agility and creativity as has never been seen before.

WWD: Story has neat experiences, such as YouCam Makeup’s augmented reality Makeup Mirrors, Clairol’s interactive touch-screen system from Perch Interactive to showcase its Color Crave temporary and semipermanent hair colors and the Cover Girl station where guests can use the A1-Array 3D Photo Booth to take a selfie in front of an array of the brand’s products. For Rimmel, those who pose for a photo against a street art in-store backdrop will receive a complimentary Rimmel product from a Vengo Labs digital vending machine. Will these technologies be appropriate for retail spin-off?

S.C.: Some of our retail partners are going to be in town because of fashion week and we’ve invited them over. It is a chance to see and explore what’s possible in creating new experiences in stores. The future is not just about profit about per linear foot, it is the combination of sales and profits and experiences to linear foot that makes the difference for people coming in for multiple trips. We are showing a sample of what could be possible, especially how we brought our stories to life in the store. This is the right time to introduce new ways to engage with product.

WWD: Would you ever consider opening a stand-alone Coty store bringing the brands together with the technology?

S.C.: We’re always exploring what could be possible to have new experiences for our brands. We’re always looking at new and exciting ways to support our brands.