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Allure X Ulta Beauty: Will More Retail Partners Follow?

July 7, 2022
July 7, 2022
Allure X Ulta Beauty

The Allure Store’s latest partnership could be its boldest yet since the experimental format opened last year in SoHo—a three-month installation of products curated by Ulta Beauty.

Ulta Beauty executives approached the Allure team about the idea that came to life in early July. Every month through September, new merchandise culled from Ulta Beauty’s assortment will be presented front and center in the store. The remainder of the 2,900-square-foot floor showcases hair, skin, makeup, and other products handpicked by Allure.

This is the first time Allure is teaming up with a retailer versus a brand. “People have heard about the collaboration and they’ve been running in [during the soft launch],” says Sonny Gindi, partner at Stour, which operates the Allure Store via a licensing agreement. “I’d be happy with Ulta forever,” he quips, but adds future retail alliances aren’t ruled out.

Maria Salcedo, Senior Vice President of Merchandising, Ulta Beauty added, As we continue to rethink beauty discovery and the future of experiential retail, we know the guest journey is no longer linear. Now more than ever, consumers crave fun, engaging experiences when shopping for beauty and our partnership with Allure Store is helping us provide this and more in a unique and immersive way. Our authority, coupled with Allure’s trusted expertise is a winning combination that offers many possibilities. We’re thrilled to highlight a curated selection of some of our most coveted brands and products and look forward to inviting new and existing guests to explore our unmatched offering like never before.”

An added perk: Ultamate rewards members earn their points associated with Ulta purchases. Non-members of the program can sign up and receive a discount of $5 off a purchase of $10 or higher. Ultamate is widely considered one of the best in the business because every dollar spent is good for a product or beauty service rather than specially selected freebies.

The partnership is viewed as a win/win for both parties. With only two stores in Manhattan—on the Upper East Side and Herald Square—Ulta Beauty benefits from exposure to local customers, according to an Ulta Beauty representative on site for a recent press and influencer. Ulta Beauty can gather intelligence to support the potential of expanding in the SoHo neighborhood, which has become a beauty hotspot.

“We chose this neighborhood in part because it is the entrance to Nolita, the new beauty capital [Le Labo, Credo, and The Abnormal Beauty Company have shops there] and is linked to the fashion of SoHo,” Gindi explains.

Ulta Beauty is also experimenting in other markets with shops within Target Stores—there are now about 168 Ulta Beauty at Target installations. For the Allure Store, Ulta Beauty offers the traffic-pulling power from one of the biggest names in the beauty business, especially for emerging brands.

Fittingly, the majority of items are culled from Ulta Beauty’s specialty areas including the Wellness Shop, Sparked at Ulta Beauty (discovery brands), its Conscious Beauty assortment, and BIPOC owned or founded lines.

Themes will be carried out each month with appropriate demonstrations and products. “Ulta is telling their story for summer through the store,” says Gindi, who describes the retail space as a “stage.”

Products highlighted in July include celebrity- and influencer-backed brands such as r.e.m. beauty (from Ariana Grande), Billie Eilish Fragrance, Halsey’s about-face, Fenty ,and a scent launched by social media star Charli D’Amelio called Born Dreamer.

Newcomers like Glamnetic join fan favorites such as Morphe, Drybar, Olaplex, and Juvia’s Place on the featured display at the entrance. The back wall is devoted to Ulta Beauty’s own brand, Ulta Beauty Collection. There is a tower at the entrance labeled “Ulta Beauty Skincare Faves You Need This Summer,” housing Tula, Maelys, Peter Thomas Roth, The Ordinary, Beekman 1803, and Supergoop.

In addition to on-site sales experts in pink jumpsuits (or white, depending on the day), the Allure Store is loaded with interactive tools that include iPads where shoppers learn about products and order by scanning a QR code. Rather than grab off a shelf, orders are placed via phones and products are delivered at checkout. The result is a clean, inviting space versus cluttered and confusing shelves.

The Allure Store was envisioned as a space for events rather than a traditional retail footprint. Gindi says there have been more than 500 events since it opened. The first tied to Ulta Beauty was slated for July 8 featuring an Ulta Beauty makeup artist (and ice pops). The theme in August will be about clean beauty based on Ulta Beauty’s Conscious Beauty collection.

The unique business model calls for beauty companies to pay an entrance fee to be on the shelves. From there, all of the proceeds funnel to the brand. Gindi sees the format as the new world of retail that takes into account sales drivers like TikTok and bringing what resonates online into the physical environment. “The store was built for Allure’s favorite brands to tell their stories,” he concludes.

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