Lynne Greene is out to liberate the department store customer.

This story first appeared in the September 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

That was the point driven home earlier this week when the global brand president of Clinique, Origins and the Ojon brands at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. was giving a tour of her new 1,000-square-foot Clinique selling space in the heart of the still-under-construction main floor of Bloomingdale’s 59th Street Manhattan flagship.

At one end of the installation is a Clinique Express Service counter that promises satisfaction “in a New York Minute.” An overhead video screen flashes messages that can be changed to make good humored sales plugs like, “It’s 20 degrees outside; see Comfort on Call.”

“The idea is to relate to what is going on in the world or going on in New York,” she said. But the purpose of that bar is to service customers in a hurry. A beauty adviser, wired with a headset, was stationed nearby, ready to call for any product not readily available. “The ultimate service to the consumer is serve them in the way they want it, when they want it in the time they want it.”

The rest of the sprawling complex is designed for those less-harried shoppers who want to hang out and even fiddle with products. Seemingly every stockkeeping unit is on tester, each with a price prominently displayed. The foundations are arranged by color, rather than by formula, as is usually the case.

Products, such as eight different mascaras, are clustered and mounted on what Greene described as “a what’s new walls.” The display walls are mirrored to allow customers to see themselves more easily, while trying the product. Little wire baskets, like those found in upscale grocery stores, are provided, encouraging customers to pick up products, while they browse.

In addition to what Greene calls the “loyalty products” — foundation, mascara and skin care — the color cosmetics categories of lips, eyes and cheeks are also represented, with beauty advisers, trained as makeup artists, doing makeovers. Skin care is broken down into De-aging Solutions and Dermatological Solutions. The men’s wall is discreetly over to the side so men don’t feel trapped in a women’s shop.

Clinique’s white design manifesto has been livened up with seat cushions of different colors “to add some sexiness,” Greene noted. And the brand’s signature manually operated product calculator has been accompanied by a much higher-tech touch screen computer, which helps customers figure out what products they need, with the help of a beauty adviser, if needed.

“Good Service allows [the customer] to do it the way she wants to do it,” Greene said.

A lot rides on this installation, since Bloomingdale’s 59th Street has historically been one of Clinique’s most productive counters. Industry source estimate the brand does about $4.5 million at retail annually in that location, and it hopes the new counter will generate a 10 to 15 percent sales improvement in a depressed market.

One of the shoppers who dropped in during the tour was Estée Lauder chairman William Lauder, who described the new counter as “magnificent” and “state of the art.”


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