Touch-and-Try Cosmetics Arrive

By Alina Matas Knight-Ridder Newspapers | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), June 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

Touch-and-Try Cosmetics Arrive


Alina Matas Knight-Ridder Newspapers, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


DEPARTMENT STORES' cosmetics counters, where beauty aids are neatly arranged behind glass and guarded by eager sales associates, are getting a makeover of their own.

Estee Lauder recently unveiled its new Color Library in some areas, touting the section's self-service, touch-and-try layout, a format the cosmetics giant is testing in several markets.

Bloomingdale's new stores in California have been designed with open cosmetics sections, where customers are able to grab lipsticks and eye shadow off the shelf, rather than ask a sales associate behind the counter to get it from under the glass. And Sears, which reintroduced cosmetics two years ago as part of its "softer side" revamp, has created its own cosmetics line, the Color Circle, all displayed in a self-service, touch-and-try format. Giving shoppers the option to skip the assistance from the beauty expert behind the counter signals an evolution in the cosmetics industry, retail and cosmetics executives said. Cosmetics makers, whose products also include skin care and fragrances, are devoting more space to color makeup, seizing on the craze of makeup-artist lines such as Bobbi Brown and M.A.C., which have widened color palettes to fit seasons and fashion trends. The new displays also aim to function more like the shelves and racks that display clothing, which consumers can see, grab, try on and pay for. No advice, unless you want it. "Women are changing, and the cosmetics industry very wisely is trying to understand the needs of women today," said Flori Roberts, former president of the Independent Cosmetics and Manufacturers Distributors, a trade association. "People are busier, they are more results oriented. Time is really very precious." Estee Lauder has been testing the new format for two years. In some markets, like South Florida, it only has added the Color Library section in high-volume stores, such as Burdines in Dadeland. But in five other department stores in New York, Canada and Orlando, it has eliminated all glass counters, a move that has increased sales 50 to 60 percent, said Robin Burns, president and chief executive of Estee Lauder, USA & Canada. …

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