By Sandra Creamer
Sandra Creamer looks at how elf cosmetics has reinvented its image for its flagship store.
Consumer products companies occasionally take brands from the shelf to a freestanding retail store to elevate their offerings in the eyes of consumers and establish a stronger connection.
The Chobani store in Soho, Spanx mall outposts and the McCormick World of Flavors store in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are three terrific examples that have helped each brand boost its caché.
In the beauty category, we’ve seen prestige brands go from shelf to store, but for mass brands this is less common.There is one value brand in particular that is breaking this prestige shelf-to-store mold in a very big way: e.l.f. Makeup & Cosmetics.
e.l.f. cosmetics Opens Its Flagship
Drugstore makeup brand e.l.f. (which stands for eyes, lips, face) opened a flagship called e.l.f. Studio this past spring in New York City.
e.l.f. was once a small, independently owned brand, started by an NYU student and a veteran of the cosmetics brand Hard Candy, that first offered products online before getting mass distribution. The story goes that a major beauty magazine wanted to ensure, prior to providing national PR for the brand, that e.l.f. products – at that point only sold regionally – would be available nationally to their 2MM+ reader base.
To do so, e.l.f. quickly established an online outpost and was on its way. It was 2004, after all. Interest grew, and e.l.f. was able to gain distribution at mass retail. Then, quite a few years later – May of 2013 – e.l.f. officially opened its flagship doors.
Enhancing the Brand’s Image
What makes this shelf-to-storefront tale so unusual is that e.l.f. had launched originally as an “extreme value” brand, with most products at $1 or $3.
Opening a flagship would seem unusual for such a low-cost brand, except for this fact: Having real estate and a retail presence would enhance consumer perception of the brand, and allow e.l.f. to showcase new, more expensive product lines that might seem out of place/difficult to merchandise next to cheaper products at, say, a Target or a Walmart.
Much like the shelf-to-storefront objectives of other category brands, the e.l.f. Studio environment serves to up e.l.f.’s cool caché and enhance the perception of the brand.
The store vibe is clean and inviting, with shiny floors, white fixtures and a row of flat panel screens flanking the aisles reminiscent of the Saks or Bloomingdale’s cosmetics floor.
The product packaging also paves the way to reach for the premium pricing tier: Sleek solid black packs are on par with the standard for premium products set by M*A*C, Chanel and popular European brand FACE Stockholm.
For a brand such as e.l.f., which is seeking to expand beyond its value play, opening a flagship store serves a very strategic purpose.
It not only connects with the consumer in an upscale, controlled environment, but it also allows the coexistence of low and more expensive lines to tackle the barrier of up-selling for a value brand, which is very challenging indeed.
Value brands should take note!
Originally printed in Beauty Packaging.