Zee Report::Fashion news M·A·C Launches Flagship on the Champs-Élysées
The Champs-Élysées in Paris is one of the most famous streets in the world and the most valuable retail artery in Europe. Come February 2013, M·A·C Cosmetics joins the legion of luxury retail and fashion names lining this exclusive strip with the opening of the brand’s third global flagship location following the success of Times Square and Fifth Avenue, New York.
“As a trendsetting brand, we have been waiting for just the right opportunities to present themselves in these fashion capitals,” says Karen Buglisi, Global Brand President, M·A·C Cosmetics. “We anticipate these to be high volume doors for the brand, due to the large number of visitors they attract from around the world. Each year, approximately 167 million people travel to the Champs-Élysées.” Business expansion model aside (the fact that the 128 stores housed on the Champs-Élysées generate a sales turnover of 1 billion euro per year is hard to contest), as a branding strategy, M·A·C’s decision to invest in the Champs-Élysées is specific: in a move far ahead of the creative and commercial curve of its competitors, the Champs-Élysées flagship demonstrates M·A·C’s ability to react and respond to trends in consumerism in a manner unrivalled by any other cosmetics brand.
Firstly, Paris is internationally synonymous with style and creativity, drawing a multicultural audience impressionable to the city’s fashion capital heritage. Every season, between the fashion capitals of New York, London, Milan and Paris, M·A·C supports over 200 shows, from emerging to established designers. Living and breathing fashion and trend is an inherent part of M·A·C’s DNA. Opening a distinctive, prominent and impressive flagship store in the fashion capital of the world only strengthens the brand’s fashion message and trend authority. Indeed, “our global flagship strategy supports the idea that M·A·C behaves more like a luxury fashion brand, but captures a much larger audience as a result of our commitment to creating products that appeal to All Ages, All Races and All Sexes,” explains Buglisi.
Secondly, the Champs-Élysées, particularly for the French, represents the quintessential celebration location and global focus for the city. No other locale in Paris can match the visibility, traffic and prestige of an address on the Champs-Élysées. “No makeup brand is more global and more equipped to cater to such a diverse and important audience than M·A·C,” adds Buglisi. “This new flagship store will make an incredibly strong, very exciting brand statement.” Hence the 362m2 (total space) store, which M·A·C has developed over two floors at 78 Champs-Élysées.
In respect of design, the Champs-Élysées flagship is unique. “There’s a look and feel to M·A·C’s design aesthetics but the cultural and spatial context of every M·A·C store is always thought about sensitively. We don’t ever want to be ‘cookie cutter’,” explains James Gager, Senior Vice President, M·A·C Cosmetics. “Despite being in Paris, we did not want to evoke anything particularly cultural with the store design. The focus was on giving the structure a sense of magnificence, working with the fact that architecture in Paris is innovative and risk taking,” he explains. “Which is why we decided to make this amazing shell within the store,” explains Gager of ‘the dome’ – a cascade of black mirrors which plays with the grandeur of the double-height space. The dome “reflects and refracts the graphic and colour-saturated LED animations projected in the store, fragmenting their shades and shape. The idea is that they generate a visual interest at street level which captures the imagination and draws people inside,” he explains. “The rest of the store design is very simple, but with the dome we wanted to gain attention in an appropriate way, to create real ‘wow’ factor. M·A·C is a very theatrical brand and we wanted to reflect that.”
“Consumers in such high traffic destinations as the Champs-Élysées demand spectacle and a level of elevated aesthetics. We therefore strive to create unique spaces that individually feel important, inspirational and striking,” continues Gager. “It’s about creating a memorable architectural experience as much as a memorable M·A·C experience.”
Always mindful of the brand’s founding principal – All Ages, All Races, All Sexes – over 30 makeup Artists will be working at the Champs-Élysées with an international profile, relevant to a mix of consumers via language, experience and background. The presence of so many Artists is demonstrative of the fact that M·A·C is, first and foremost, an artistry-led brand.
“We don’t have ‘beauty consultants’…we have Makeup Artists,” confirms Gordon Espinet, Senior Vice President, Artist Training and Development, M·A·C Cosmetics. “What makes the M·A·C experience so unique is that we have extreme diversity in the people who work with us. However, irrespective of age, language, culture, background or ethnicity, they are all genuinely passionate and talented makeup artists who have an innate desire and ability to positively connect with consumers and constantly rethink the potentials of makeup.”
Vital to this point is M·A·C’s ethos of internally promoting and retraining its Artists, which equates to an extremely low turnover rate. “We educate our Artists and certify them,” explains Buglisi. “The Artist behind the counter is our first customer: if you can convince them and inspire them, they will share that with customers. Hence, what we can offer to the consumer feels different from what the consumer gets from another brand that has a higher rate of turnover.”
Speaking to the fact that the Champs-Élysées recruits consumers from all over the world, the product offering at the flagship has an equally multicultural relevancy. In addition to the full M·A·C range (over 1200 SKUs including new colour collections and M·A·C store-only exclusive collections), additional product collections with a global appeal, previously only available to specific M·A·C markets, are also a compelling offering.
With 360-degree consumer engagement via the ultimate in high-touch and high-tech retailing in mind, the M·A·C Champs-Élysées flagship features innovative retail experiences such as the first Lash Bar in France (the full selection of lashes are displayed and back-lit on a vertical surface at worktop height, enticing customers to play with their picks of lash looks) where all lash-essential accessories and products are readily to hand.
The 12 makeup stations (eight in a central hub on the ground floor, two more in the VIP area and in the private makeup area) have a bespoke feel with professional lighting and fully adjustable seating, while the continual animation around collections makes for an immediate and tangible way to step in and experience the brand. The focus is clearly on attracting customers in and inviting them to stay. “We are trying to be more cognizant of the customer who wants to play for a while,” says Gager.
The Champs-Élysées flagship will also serve as an industry event space. Key functions include the flagship forming an ‘industry hub’ for editorial broadcasting activity, filming and VIP appointments, hosting PR events for bloggers and makeup applications for local and global media during Paris Fashion Week, in addition to serving as a venue for Masterclasses and M·A·C’s seasonal Trend Presentations.
In keeping with the brand’s strong alignment, and support of, the industry as a whole, the store will tune in to M·A·C’s strong relationships and involvement with French cinema and film festivals by participating in related events on the Champs-Élysées via in-store animation, premiere parties and makeup appointments. With many of Paris’s famous nightclubs nearby, local French socialites will also be invited in for pre-party makeup applications, complete with an in-store DJ on occasion.
“What we have created with the Champs-Élysées’s store – as with our other flagships – is a unique and special retail experience,” concludes Gager. “Addressing the shopper is the best way for the brand to evolve. As our flagships demonstrate, as our customers evolve, so will we. We are a brand that always likes to keep moving.”