It’s been out since summer 2012, but the excitement around the Clinique Experience Bar hasn’t waned a bit, said Wendy Liebmann, founder and ceo of WSL Strategic Retail.

Understanding the importance of self-service when it comes to beauty, Lynne Greene, Group President, The Estée Lauder Cos., broke the department store service model by introducing an interactive, self-serve experience that serves as a good example of how self-service and sampling can encourage shoppers to make a product selection on their own.And, since no hired beauty advisors are needed, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think this experience bar could live in a mass channel.

Located in NYC’s Bloomingdale’s flagship (and two locations outside the US), this new experience bar encourages shoppers to educate themselves, and to browse and sample products so they can make an informed purchase.

To sample a product, shoppers place their hand below the dispenser, and push the corresponding button. A musical chord sounds as the product is released – creating a multi-sensory experience.At eye level, shoppers will notice the variety of products that are available to test. Attractive backlighting and large buttons encourage shoppers to test and sample.

To research specific products, shoppers approach the bar, sit on a stool, and begin using an iPad to browse different skincare concerns (e.g. dark spots).The iPad explains the product’s usage, highlights benefits and features and clearly lists its price.

After browsing products on the iPad and taking the self skin-care consultation, shoppers receive a printout (that emerges from the counter) containing products recommended specifically for them.

What Works:

» Highly personalized service. A variety of options for service exactly how you want it

» An engaging and exciting experience with a variety of sensorial triggers – sight, sound and touch

» Multiple means of shopper education, from interesting product sampling to iPads for self-guided skin diagnostics and product information

What Doesn’t Work:
» For some, the experience might be a bit too techy, a little intimidating, not high touch enough.