When it comes to shopping— gen-z have grown up online. Instagram became shoppable in November 2016 and since then e-tailers like Sephora, Mecca and The Iconic have dominated the fashion and beauty landscapes. Between convenience, choice and same-day delivery, there is little to be desired when it comes to online shopping. And as far as modern-day retail shoppers, few are gen-z’ers venturing out to bricks and mortar stores to find what they really need. But for the generation who has access to everything — how does a brand stand out or make a connection with consumers? And is an immersive experience the only way to combat retail fatigue?
As one of the leaders in digital first beauty — initially opting to skip retail all together and sell exclusively online, Glossier almost immediately saw, and continues to see, insane levels of success. Case in point for millennial pink (but still chic and minimal) branding and a capsule collection-esque range, the brand, founded in 2014 saw 90% of its revenue come directly from online*. However, with the building of a cult-like online community, (think instantaneous and cheeky responses from the Glossier team to every single customer tag on social media) and really good products comes the potential to move an already engaged and committed audience offline…this is where Glossier really cemented its status.
The launch of their New York City flagship store in 2016 saw more than half a million people through its doors. The doors of which, at the time, were to the company’s office space, turned show-room. The key? Glossier’s founder Emily Weiss told the New York Times, “We’re not focused on selling you stuff,” she said. “We don’t have people working on a commission. When you’re in such a transaction time — a time of Amazon having engineers working on cross-selling and up-selling and better and better algorithms to get you to buy stuff — it’s really important to create spaces and experiences that help you feel things.”
Glossier has seen continued success. With perfectly curated pop-ups across major cities like Boston, Austin, and most recently London. Fitted with decor and merch shoppers can only find at said location — these pop-ups are just one example of the power of the exclusive and immersive beauty experience. One that goes above and beyond your traditional retail experience, and exists as a space for trusted brands to deepen their relationship with customers who have genuinely become part of their community.
Huda Beauty, another one of digital’s fastest growing beauty brands, has successfully executed a similar idea— her Cosmic Experience held at Covent Garden took place in November 2019 and was still written about months later.
Now, Australian luxury niche fragrance brand LUMIRA, is taking the immersive and exclusive beauty experience one step further with LUMIRA Journeys. In partnership with Encore Journeys, brand founder Almira Armstrong has created a personalised itinerary which will allow (a small group of) consumers to join her on tours of destinations that have inspired the brand’s fragrances.
“From our very first fragrance, LUMIRA has always been inextricably linked with the art of travel and every scent is inspired by a moment in time experienced around the world. For some time now, I’ve been searching for an even more meaningful way to share my love of travel. Now, I’m delighted to announce the launch of LUMIRA Journeys – a bespoke luxury travel experience to the places that have influenced my senses. First up Morocco in 2021,” Armstrong told Centennial Beauty.
In appealing to a generation that cares about the consumer experience as much as the ethics behind a brand, immersive beauty experiences are more powerful than ever. Plus, beauty is an intrinsically palatable category, meaning “experiential retail is the future,” says Armstrong. “Gen-z [particularly] love an immersive experience because they can get hands-on with the product” which is increasingly rare in an online driven shopping industry. Receiving insider access and being in a position to ask questions about the products they’re purchasing “are all elements that influence how someone thinks and feels about a brand,” she says. “It [allows the building of] emotional connections with shoppers. Our goal is to share our brand philosophy and build deeper connections with our community.” As seen with Glossier, online and offline communities developed by brand and consumer engagement is a surefire way to stand out. Establishing alignment between personal and brand values through a travel experience is a powerful way to develop a sense of community and loyalty amongst an educated, hyper-aware generation.
Time will tell if more beauty brands jump on the bandwagon, but as far as a Moroccan fragrance experience goes… we’re already sold.