Target is liking the results of its recent beauty section revamp, which began rolling out late last year.
Meant to follow the format of popular specialty-multi retailers like Sephora and Ulta, the redesigned section is meant to better spotlight trendy items, encourage product testing and ramp up one-on-one service. It’s an acknowledgement of the fact that the repetitive, endless-aisle format that mass retailers are known for no longer cuts it — especially in beauty, where competition is increasingly steep.
After debuting in 70 stores last October, the brand was slated to roll out the new setup to 330 more stores by the end of this year. It now expects to exceed that number, said Christina Hennington, the company’s senior vice president of merchandising for essentials and beauty.
“We are really pleased with the results to date,” she said, though she couldn’t comment on sales. “Guests are enjoying the new space, and love the ease of discovering new items and trying out products.”
To foster that, Target has replaced the straightforward aisle format with an open-concept layout featuring themed and branded “shops.” Here, key brands like NYX and E.l.f. Cosmetics, and popular categories including natural beauty, bath products, cosmetic tools and beauty accessories, are highlighted. Illuminated black-and-white fixtures, more flattering lighting and digital product information boards have also contributed to the new look.
So far, the most popular section has been what Hennington calls “the minis table,” an area devoted to roughly 100 lower-priced, trial-size, trend-driven products, from masks to texture spray.
“Guests today love discovering new products, [and this makes it easier],” she said.
Target’s new beauty section at its Harold Square location in Manhattan
Also making it easier is Target’s upgraded Beauty Concierge service, which originally launched in 2012 and centers on a group of brand-agnostic beauty experts. According to Hennington, more experts have been hired at each store to ensure there’s enough beauty guidance (such as foundation shade matching) to meet demand. Target currently has a dedicated service station, which makes it easy for shoppers to locate Concierge members. In the near future, it plans to ramp up the number of demonstrations and events the team hosts.
Although Target doesn’t break out results by category, Hennington said, so far, it’s seen the strongest results in natural skin care, multicultural hair care, bath and body products, and cosmetics.
“Our guests continue to gravitate toward natural, better-for-you products,” she said, pointing to brands like Acure, Pacifica, Pixi by Petra, SheaMoisture and Raw Sugar. The retailer’s partnership with the Korean beauty company Glow Recipe on a special Glow Studio for Target line is also likely seeing dividends.
“As consumers continue to gravitate toward premium skin care, K-Beauty continues to see significant growth,” she said.
Also seeing success is its new men’s grooming destination, which was rolled out in 40 stores at the same time of the larger revamp and follows a similar open plan. Alongside traditional men’s legacy brands like Dove and Axe, Target has introduced more niche labels like Rebels Refinery, Beardbrand, Byrd Hairdo and Duke Cannon to the assortment. With sales in the category booming, said Hennington, Target expects to expand the station to roughly 150 stores by the end of 2018.
Though she stayed mum on details, Hennington hinted that there is more transformation to come for Target’s beauty department. “We’re always looking for new ways to excite our guests,” she said.