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Casual brows

As competition hots up between internationals and local brands in the beauty category, NZ Retail and The Register editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn considers what comes next.

“Welcome to Sephora,” said a staff member waiting by the store’s front door. “Can I help you with anything today?”
“Just browsing, thanks,” I replied.
“That’s great!” she responded enthusiastically. “Over to your right is the Benefit display, they’ve got some of our most popular brow products and you’re welcome to experiment with any that take your fancy.”
Mix-ups between eyebrows and browsing aside, the new Sephora outlet on Queen St is a really interesting proposition. Like Farmers’ recently-opened flagship at Westfield Newmarket, service is an integral part of what it offers – engaged, authoritative service from staff who live and breathe the brand.
The other point that these spaces have in common is opportunities for customers to feel at home in the stores. Instead of focusing in on the sale, Sephora creates an environment where shoppers are enticed into increasing their dwell time. They can play and experiment with the product, find out the answers to any questions they have about it, and then when they’re ready, they can drift to the counter.
I wasn’t in a buying mood when I visited, but the friend who accompanied me emerged with a full face of expertly-applied make-up and a bag of products.
Farmers isn’t letting the French multinational take over New Zealand’s beauty category without a fight, however. Its beautiful flagship is home to the largest beauty offer of its kind in the Farmers chain, and includes its own row of interactive benches and mirrors for customers to “try before they buy”.
The Warehouse Group, too, has recently launched a very competitive marketplace-style ecommerce offer that encompasses everything from eyeshadow to ironing boards. TheMarket lets retailers manage their own price promotions, stock and shipping while providing group customer services and a standardised customer experience.
While international retailers are still launching left, right and centre in New Zealand’s metropolitan areas, New Zealand retailers of every scale are leveraging their home advantage to produce innovative business ideas that satisfy customers’ needs.
The NZ Retail team and friends took an evening to recognise the ongoing vitality of the Kiwi retail industry on September 26 with our Gem Retail Hotlist awards. Our editorial staff selected 55 finalists, from which a panel of industry judges chose 18 winners.
In a tough category like retail, you don’t need our acclaim to know that your business is special – your customers show their appreciation every day by continuing to spend their hard-earned cash with you, and that’s the most important recognition of all.
But if you did make the list of winners or finalists, we hope you’ve taken the opportunity to pat yourself on the back and share a little love with your team. Take a moment to celebrate your achievement – we’ll be cheering you on.

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 764 October/November 2019.

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