MAC Cosmetics becomes latest brand to open a new retail concept store in China

The Estée Lauder-owned brand claims it conducted half a year of research to understand Gen Z makeup purchase behaviours.

MAC Cosmetics has opened an experience center in Shanghai to provide an omnichannel shop for its customers.

The store, created with the help of Wunderman Thompson, brings together product discovery, social engagement and purchase for an interactive 'new retail' experience for customers.

The Estée Lauder-owned brand claims it conducted half a year of research to understand Gen Z makeup purchase behaviours through cognitive walkthroughs, exit interviews and customer focus groups. The results gathered were then used to form the store’s interactive design, touch screens and mobile interfaces to create engagements between digital devices and physical products.

After entering the centre, digital totems greet customers and invite them to scan for a check-in, using MAC’s WeChat mini-program. Customers will then be greeted with a personalized greeting and use WeChat in the store.

In the lipstick section, customers can try the latest shades via a virtual makeup mirror, letting them sample 18 lipstick colors in 30 seconds. In the eye shadow section, customers can choose from six influencer-created palettes and then tailor them to their own tastes.

Customers then scan the touchscreen with WeChat to pay and pick up a custom 3D printed eye shadow palette. The foundation section uses an infrared touch screen interface to create a shade match to the customer’s complexion.

On the second floor, there is an open platform space for master classes and influencer events, letting influencers create their own events and content.

“The MAC Cosmetics Experience Center has reinvented the physical retail experience, crossing the divide between the physical and virtual worlds,” said Mark Jiang, the brand general manager, at MAC.

“Despite our strong e-commerce presence, the true MAC experience is founded in a traditional retail environment.”

MAC is not the first foreign brand to try new retail, a term coined by e-commerce giant Alibaba in China. In April 2018, Italian high fashion brand Valentino launched a 3D online virtual store on Alibaba’s luxury shopping experience, Tmall Luxury Pavilion.

Alibaba also operates Hema supermarket stores which use new retail to enable consumers to shop, order groceries for home delivery and eat in-store, all via a dedicated Hema app, which is linked to Alipay.

In the store, consumers can scan barcodes to purchase items and make payments, all via the app. The app also enables users to order fresh food – including live seafood – to be cooked and eaten in-store.

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