As the pandemic continues to weigh on the economy, many retailers have been forced to shutter physical stores around the world, but there are a few brands — and not just traditional retail types — that have been quietly moving in the opposite direction.
Among them is Condé Nast-owned Allure magazine, which is gearing up to open its first physical retail store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood during the fall, through a licensing partnership with STÔUR Group, which specializes in turning online destinations into physical retail and will manage operations.
When it opens its doors, the 2,900-square-foot Lafayette Street store will be set over two floors and will feature around 300 makeup, hair-care and skin-care products at any given time, curated by staffers at Allure, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The store will also offer augmented reality capabilities for customers to try on products, as well as smart mirrors, and when it’s safe for live events to return, Allure’s editorial team plan to regularly host in-store events, tutorials and masterclasses.
While opening a store for the first time during the current climate may raise some eyebrows, Markus Grindel, managing director of global brand licensing at Condé Nast, believes its “360-degree immersive retail experience” will be key to its success.
Valentino Couture Spring 2021
“There are many different reasons I think stores are closing and some of that is related to or accelerated by the pandemic. But I think brick-and-mortar has been struggling before because the concept in general hasn’t kept up with the change in consumer behavior,” he told WWD. “Stores these days still try to serve the pre-Instagram consumer that they have been serving for decades and I think consumers today shop through media, through headlines, through influencers and content. That’s really what is driving consumption and the store that we’re going to open is built entirely around that sort of future — this immersive environment which is created by the experts like Michelle [Lee, Allure’s editor in chief] and her team.”
Lee added that the hope is that the store can build off the success of its beauty recommendations and The Allure Beauty Box, a handpicked selection of editor-approved beauty products that launched in 2012, of which revenue has risen 20 percent year-over-year.
“It makes a lot of sense for us to have this physical space where people can shop our stories and our recommendations. There will be a section in the store always around Best of Beauty Award winners,” she said.
Allure is just one of a number of media brands branching out of traditional print and advertising revenue streams. Print advertising was an area that was already struggling across the entire media industry, only to be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hearst-owned Cosmopolitan magazine has released a perfume, a furniture line and a wine brand Uncorked, while Meredith’s InStyle has collaborated with a number of clothing brands under its Badass franchise. Elsewhere, The New Yorker, also published by Condé Nast, released new branded merchandise including playing cards illustrated by cartoonist Edward Steed, socks featuring the magazine’s monocled mascot Eustace Tilley, coffee mugs, pencils and notebooks, T-shirts and even a new baby onesie.
But while retail will play a bigger part in Allure’s future, Lee insisted that print remains core to the brand despite rumors that it could be the next Condé-owned publication to go digital only.
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