Innisfree is using its stand-alone retail stores as marketing vehicles to drive its burgeoning U.S. business.
The Amorepacific-owned brand launched in the U.S. in September 2017 with the opening of its flagship in New York’s Flatiron. The space is packed with Instagrammable moments — from a 450-square-foot living wall to an area called the “greenhouse,” to a wheel featuring Innisfree’s 14 shades of cushion compact foundation, to an interactive map of Jeju Island, the South Korean beach destination from where the brand sources ingredients, including its hero ingredient, green tea.
The direct-to-consumer beauty brand is “big in Asia,” said Julien Bouzitat, general manager and vice president of Innisfree in the U.S., with 1,500 stores across 11 Asian markets. There was awareness in the U.S., particularly with Asian-American consumers, but a boost was needed in order to diversify its customer base here. That boost is coming directly from the flagship.
The Innisfree flagship is designed as an immersive experience into the brand story — the temperature is cool to mimic an ocean breeze and it is scented with the brand’s signature green tea scent. Innisfree’s nine skin-care franchises — each rooted in an ingredient found on Jeju Island — are brought to life via installations explaining the benefits of each ingredient, from tangerine to orchid to lava seawater and green barley. A space on the mezzanine level called “the greenhouse” is home to makeup and skin-care master classes and events.
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“We truly integrate storytelling and brand equity into the store experience,” said Bouzitat, who referred to the store as a “social content creation hub. We let the store be our advertising, and we leverage the store to [drive] our social media content.”
Everything in the shop — from the design to special events — is meant to elicit a social media post from customers.
An example of this was the grand opening. Innisfree tapped Korean-American influencer Jenn Im for a meet-and-greet at the store. Lines wrapped around the block, and fans posted photos to social media. On opening day, 6,000 people visited the Innisfree store on Broadway — many of them were the brand’s core Asian-American consumers who posted about the experience to social media.
“We were the talk of the town and the neighborhood,” said Bouzitat, referring to the long lines outside the store. “The line wasn’t just seen by our neighbors, it was seen on social media. Two to three weeks in, everyone — different ethnicities, different age groups — came to see what the fuss was about.”
Innisfree is continuing to expand its presence in the market here — a second New York location is set to open in September on Lexington Avenue across from Bloomingdale’s.
Bouzitat said Innisfree’s U.S. stores will continue to host everything from makeup classes to sustainability programs for children — one of the brand’s core tenants is sustainability. Events are often live-streamed to the brand’s social media channels. “We’re maximizing our investment in the space to go beyond much more than selling product,” said Bouzitat.