Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Field Trip; "L'Oreal Boutique @ Bed, Bath and Beyond"

L'Oreal, the cosmetics brand behind Infallible Lip Color and Elnett Hairspray, is sold throughout the continental United States in beauty supply, drug stores and large box retailers. The products are endorsed by celebrities like Beyonce Knowles and Linda Evangelista who's enviable looks are created by big time makeup artists like James Kaliardos using, of course, L'Oreal products. The brand has implemented it's own youtube channel to give the consumer more information on using it's line of makeup, hair and skincare but there really is nothing like experiencing it for yourself.

Retailers like Duane Reade and Kmart generally offer the entire range, but no testers. No opportunity to feel, and experiment like you would at stores like Sephora or get professional advice from sales people like at MAC. And although the line is extensive and offers multiple formulas and textures, it's not likely that the average consumer is able to make an educated decision on purchases without that first-hand experience.

Last fall, I had read in Women's Wear Daily that the multi-national company was to release a boutique in Manhattan's Upper East Side that would remedy that issue and give consumers more insight to not only purchases but application as well. My curiosity piqued, I was even more taken aback when I learned the location, within Bed, Bath and Beyond. The press release boasted that there would be "L'Oreal Beauty Advisors" on hand to answer questions on products and even make recommendations for that perfect shade of red lipstick.

Last week, I decided to make the trip and see for myself what the location had to offer, anticipating a scene much like the one pictured above complete with swanky lighting and organized shelving units. And, even though it did have those features, there was something a bit amiss about it. Perhaps that it was located directly across from a display of toilet paper, but I wasn't as impressed as I think I wanted to be. There was a distinct difference between this shopping area and the aisles at drug stores, but with one major similarity; no tester display. When asked, the brand representative did reach down beneath a table where a hand-cart held multiple testers of items but with a limited amount of colors available for each formula.

I have previously become familiar with L'Oreal when they sponsored me at The Sundance Film Festival a few years back, but they have since released other items that I hadn't much experience with. A perfect opportunity to get some info by a trained professional. The brand reps are employees of both L'Oreal and Bed, Bath and Beyond but have specific training on the products in their part of the store only. Still capable of directing customers to other parts of the store, these sales people are chained to the boutique location. And while, not makeup artists per se, they have all the background information on products as one would expect from any other cosmetics boutique. It's a nice way to create intrigue on items the regular customer may not be familiar with as well and even allure them to the aisle of their drug stores when on another shopping excursion.

I haven't any word on whether or not L'Oreal has any plans on opening more boutiques either freestanding or within other retailers, but this one is worth the trip if you happen to be on the Upper East Side. Plenty of information and opportunity to view all the products they have to offer. But to stand apart from other retail locations, I'd rather there be a more extensive tester unit.

L'Oreal Boutique
@ Bed, Bath and Beyond
E. 61st Street and 1st Avenue

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