MILAN — Italian department store Rinascente has upped its beauty game by launching an initiative dubbed Beauty Fair.
Running through March 11, the project involves both established and indie brands across the makeup, skin care and fragrance categories staging pop-ups to present their latest collections, limited-edition or customizable products as well as offering in-store experiences, free treatments and master classes to customers.
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The format was implemented in Rinascente’s Milan flagship, at its Roma Tritone location and in its store in Turin.
In Milan it was set up on the sixth floor traditionally dedicated to home collections, therefore temporarily adding another space for beauty to its existing presence on the ground floor and the Beauty Bar area in the adjacent Annex shop.
“The main goal was to attract a large number of local customers and provide them with additional content and a different level of experience,” said Giuseppe D’Amato, Rinascente’s buying and merchandising director, on Tuesday.
“At first, we launched projects related to the world of home [in this space] but since last year we’ve been experimenting with product categories that aren’t usually displayed here,” he added.
Betting on beauty came naturally as the category’s sales are gaining traction across the retailer’s network of nine locations in Italy. Rinascente hit the 1 billion euro sales mark last year, reporting a 16 percent increase versus 2022 and 14 percent growth over its record year in 2019. Sales grew in all merchandise categories, with a particular focus on luxury accessories and beauty, which climbed 28 percent and 30 percent, respectively.
“In this store, beauty sales account for more than 12 percent of total revenues, and we expect this figure to increase more and more,” D’Amato said about the Milan flagship, which is Rinascente’s jewel-in-the-crown unit thanks to its strategic position overlooking the city’s Duomo cathedral.
“This is one of our main locations, followed by Roma Tritone, but all stores are reporting growth….Beauty sales specifically increased double digit at all our stores. We’ve reached a level of offering that is very interesting and quite unique in Italy, both in terms of the catalogue and exclusivity of the brands,” D’Amato said.
In Milan’s Beauty Fair project, one of the biggest pop-ups was set up by YSL Beauty, which installed its first Innovation Lab in the country with a focus on tech devices, in addition to showcasing its makeup and fragrance offering.
Estée Lauder, La Mer and Bobbi Brown all staged booths replete with cabins for skin care treatments and makeup stations. Upon reservation on the Rinascente’s website, customers can access free services and beauty consultancy. These include master class sessions to discover products and skin care techniques from an Estée Lauder expert; an exclusive treatment focusing on cellular rejuvenation and based on the Crème de La Mer moisturizing cream, and free Seasonal Color Analysis sessions by Bobbi Brown makeup artists.
Coming in popping red, the Shiseido booth also provided custom makeup sessions and skin analysis upon online reservation, while Acqua di Parma bet big on personalization, offering special engravings on fragrance bottles, embroideries on the brand’s home collection and custom decorations on its product packaging.
On the niche front, Amouage installed a pop-up to celebrate its 40th anniversary, showcasing also the perfumes launched to mark the milestone and dubbed “Dia” and “Jubilation.” On the experiential side, a series of events dubbed “Meet the Brand” will be staged to enable customers to discover more about the brand and the ingredients behind the formulations.
Amouage is distributed in Italy by Olfattorio, whose ties with Rinascente trace back to 2011 and are now further strengthened with a Bar à Parfums displaying artisanal fragrances by the likes of Caron, Goutal, BDK Parfums, Akro, Maison Crivelli and Ellis Faas, to name a few.
Spanish beauty brand Natura Bissé is among the brands making their Italian debut as part of Rinascente’s exclusives. The counter is flanked by an eye-catching inflatable “bubble” that acts as cabin for beauty treatments.
D’Amato said the experiential side of the initiative is proving to be the key driver, as all slots “are already fully booked for the whole month, and for most of the brands there are even waiting lists to access to these.”
“So going forward, we see ourselves acting more and more as content box. There will be counters with products and exclusives but we also feel the responsibility toward both our existing clients and new customers to offer something more, be it an experience or a new label to discover,” D’Amato said.
“We see our future undeniably linked to this aspect of entertainment, so continuing our overall strategy to perform as a media company, where we offer further spaces to brands to enable them to express themselves,” he continued. “Our goal is to have at least two multicategory projects per year and work on monthly takeovers, also by a single brand,” said D’Amato, pointing to Rinascente’s recent activations for the holiday season as an example. As reported, for the occasion the Milan flagship hosted the Chanel Wonderland concept, the most expansive takeover the retailer ever staged as it stretched across floors, store windows, facade and arcade.
The retailer continues to scout indie beauty brands, too, which are particularly highlighted in the Beauty Fair formats installed in the Roma Tritone and Turin units.
In Rome, the initiative is set on the basement floor and counts corners by companies like Appealskin, Eterea, Fler, Manucurist and Sobea, in addition to a multibrand space displaying the likes of Barberino’s, Espressoh, GHD and Paula’s Choice, among others. Olaplex, Nabla, Alkemy, Bigoodino and Coistel Beauty are among the labels spotlighted in the Turin store.
“But more than based on locations, our scouting process follows generations,” D’Amato said. “We’re very consistent for what concerns established names and exclusives. On emerging brands, we rely on what happens online, with names emerging either because they are launched by local celebrities or offer contents or values that garner the attention of new generations, like sustainability.”
“We launched the Beauty Bar in Annex here for this reason, and then developed it on all our other stores…because customers’ reaction was immediate and very strong. At first it was appreciated mainly by the Gen Z, but today it attracts the whole beauty audience,” he concluded.
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