How do you crown a stellar year? With a makeover, of course.
Ulta Beauty, whose sales increased 21 percent in the first quarter of the year and nearly 17 percent in the second, has unveiled a new store design that significantly revolutionizes its traditional approach to merchandising.
Instead of segmenting brands by price and channel, meaning prestige, mass, and professionalism, Ulta’s new design presents brands in a category-by-category approach with a format that allows the retailer to present their own point of view more clearly. clear.
“We always want to reimagine and rethink, and most importantly, look at what our guests share with us,” Monica Arnaudo, director of merchandising, said of the impetus behind the new store design. “We want to help our customers better navigate our stores and inspire them along the way. We wanted to bridge similar categories, what we call intuitive adjacencies, and create an aspiration for our guests when they walk through the door.”
Cue the New is the first area guests see upon entering.
Richard Cadan Photography
The new format is noticeable at the entrance, where Ulta is taking a more thematic and less promotional or brand-focused approach to merchandising. “We have elevated and updated the aesthetic. What stories do we want to tell? What are the issues we want to talk about?” Arnaudo said. “We are embracing what the brands bring us, but sharing it from an Ulta perspective. It’s more themed and easier for guests to navigate, and more inspiring.”
As before, the store is divided into two sides, but instead of being divided into prestige and mass sides, as is currently the case, each side of the store will now house different categories.
The first area guests will encounter is called Cue the New, with three dedicated gondolas where brands being launched will be featured. The gondola design is flexible and can be adapted to several different configurations. “So if we have three big brands launch, it could be three. If there are five, we can accommodate that; it could be three makeup brands and two fragrance brands, for example,” said Arnaudo.
Directly behind Cue the New will be skin care, located on the left hand side of most stores. Prestige skincare will be further to the fore, flowing into masstige and derm brands directly behind it, followed by mass skincare. The total amount of space dedicated to skin care has also increased, Arnaudo said.
Body and bath care follows skin care, where the Wall of Well-being is also located. From there, the mix moves on to hair tools, hair accessories, and hair care.
On the other side of the store, the right hand side in most places, will be the live makeup. As with skin care, brands will flow from prestige to mass, with Ulta’s own brand on a shelf that is a “transition from prestige to mass,” Arnaudo said.
Ulta executives have also rethought the center of the store, the “heartbeat,” as Arnaudo called it. Here, there will be elevated shelves for Clinique, Estée Lauder and Lancôme, allowing each to market makeup and skincare together.
Behind them are MAC and Benefit, so-called service brands, where shoppers can partake in makeovers and brow services, leading to a new area: The Beauty Bar.
“Here, we will have the ability to do events; They could be brand events or category events. There will be many activations,” said Arnaudo.
The Beauty Bar leads to Impulse, for travel and trial products, which then goes to the checkout area, which is at the rear of the store. Other featured sections include Conscious Beauty, for clean brands, as well as a new skincare “heroes” wall, highlighting best-selling or most-loved products from multiple brands.
Services will take place in the Beauty Bar.
Richard Cadan Photography
Ulta’s lounge, which has been updated with more ambitious visuals, a seating area and a prominent menu, will be behind checkout.
Throughout, Ulta has modernized the visuals and graphics, and added high-level navigation to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for. “The constant feedback we received from guests was that they wanted better navigation,” Arnaudo said. “We want our guests to be able to spend time playing and discovering, not trying to find where something is. They want it to be easy and intuitive.”
Ulta will open or remodel about 44 stores in the new look this year, including in Jacksonville, Florida; Fairfax, Virginia and Austin, Texas. The new stores, of which 50 are projected to open next year, as well as those slated for renovations, will have the updated design.
Arnaudo said that so far the reaction from the brand has been positive. “They love the cohesion that we are bringing. They understand that we sell many brands at different price points and that we need to help guests navigate,” he said. “At the same time, we are very respectful of our prestige and mass brands and the way they flow. It’s not a mashup. It is not a confusion. It’s very reflective in the flow.”