Colorlab by Watsons concept boosts L’Oreal China

International health and beauty retailer AS Watson has teamed up with L’Oreal to launch Colorlab by Watsons, a new concept makeup store in China.

The first Colorlab launched in Shenzhen early this year as a trial, followed by more openings in Guangzhou and Shanghai. Now the company has revealed plans to roll out a further 50 stores across China by the end of this year. The stores feature modern black interiors to convey a fashionable and trendy experience-led makeup space, with access to on-hand makeup artists.

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L’Oreal brands occupy more than 30 per cent of retail space, and such an arrangement is exclusive to Colorlab.

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With the rise of online shopping and changing shopping behaviours of younger customers, it is expected that the focus on innovative physical spaces and refreshing shopping experiences will help attract younger buyers.

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AS Watson Group COO Malina Ngai said: “Makeup was identified as a huge growth area for Watsons, and working with L’Oreal on the development of this new store concept meant that we had the expertise of an established makeup supplier at the forefront. Colorlab stores put the customers experience first and rather than just purchasing makeup, we wanted to give customers access to advice and expertise from skilled makeup artists, as well as the opportunity to try out different looks and play about with new products.”

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Veronica Wang, associate partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said colours is one of the fastest-growing categories in personal care or skin care and clearly L’Oreal will continue to invest and drive growth in this growing category.

“The partnership between AS Watson and L’Oreal is interesting. There is an emerging trend of convergence of brands and retail. With e-commerce/online and offline channels, retailers look for exclusiveness, while brands seek opportunities to provide differentiated consumer experiences beyond just products and packaging.”

Wangs says both L’Oreal and Maybelline have traditionally focused on selling through beauty counters in hypermarkets and department stores.

“With the channel shift, partnering with Watson to drive a new customer experience through Colorlab could be an important part of L’Oreal’s future growth and refreshing the brand. Clearly with the impact from e-commerce, traditional retailers need to have exclusive brands or products that are not available elsewhere.

“In addition to L’Oreal, Watson would focus on its own brands or private label, which used to have a low penetration rate in China, but will be critical in driving differentiation and also profit margin in the country in the future,” Wang concluded.

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