Wendy Liebmann, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of WSL Strategic Retail, visited London earlier this month, from August 9 to August 15. While there she just had to visit Selfridges, a store she describes as a must-see for every person involved in the beauty industry.
“I think for anyone who plays any part in beauty retail or manufacturing, you have to go to Selfridges. It’s what a department store in the 21st century has to be. It represents why one should take a trip away from the computer and online shopping. Selfridges’ six floors is just a stunning shopping experience. What they’ve done is create this model that’s not as precious as Harrods, wherein almost every category they deliver some kind of good/better/best.
Beauty is located on the ground floor. There’s the traditional high-end section with prestige brands—Tom Ford, Shiseido, Lancôme, Estée Lauder—with the newest fixtures and highest level of service. There’s also a fragrance hall. Then, there’s another layer of beauty, The Beauty Workshop, which features brands such as Ren, Aesop, Cellex-C, Dr. Sebagh, Jurlique—the next tier down in beauty and personal care. There’s also a blow dry bar by Hershesons, a spray tan area by St. Tropez, a Paint Box nail bar, a brow wax bar and a threading station. They expanded the range of beauty products and services with masstige price points when they created The Workshop. Here, the shopper doesn’t necessarily need the beauty advisor; the area actually encourages shoppers to come and play, while a concierge will lead you to what will best meet your needs. The Beauty Workshop is a compelling experience different from the traditional side of the beauty floor, it’s more minimalist in design, less formal, less glittery, and with less chrome, silver and gold. And, it seems younger. What Selfridges is saying is ‘we are the experts in beauty whether it’s a $50 lipstick or a $12 lipstick.’
The third layer of beauty in global non-U.S. department stores is a pharmacy, and Selfridges offers up Lloyd’s Pharmacy, which has everything from products by Avene and Vichy to vitamins and medical equipment. It’s a continuum of beauty. They just keep refining the whole story of what is beauty and health, and recognizes smartly the different customers and demographics with this whole beauty experience. You could stay in there forever.
And, they are always utilizing an element of theatre. In the middle of July, Selfridges did a six-week theme around how everyone is beautiful, with imagery throughout the ground beauty floor, images depicting everything from gay to transgender to tattoos to piercings—all types of beauty was shown via these images. It was timely and topical and stunning. The display called out to passersby across Oxford Street to come see what was going on. When you talk about a flagship this is it. The power is that they have a global audience ranging from wealthy Russians to tourists from the Gulf. And, keeping in mind an everyday business, you can also go there for tea or to the boy’s section for a skateboard or jeans.”