Story, the retail boutique with revolving themes and tie-ups, has partnered with Coty, grooming startup Harry’s, sunglasses brand Shwood’s, and other cosmetic and accessories brands for its "beauty" issue, which opened its doors Sept. 7 and runs for five weeks.
The choice is especially intriguing for Coty and its brands, which include mass market mainstays like Cover Girl, Rimmel, Sally Hansen and Clairol.
Coty SVP Shannon Curtin, (who has also once worked at Walgreens and Walmart, two retailers likely to stock many of Coty’s mass brands) told Ad Age that the company’s involvement with the cultish retail location is an opportunity to try a new method of marketing.
Modeled on the changing content of a magazine ("point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery, sells things like a store"), Story changes up its theme, partnerships and merchandise every four to eight weeks. The whole "story" concept fits with the kind of resonance that retailers are after these days, and the Manhattan boutique has found eager partners in the likes of Target, Benjamin Moore, The Home Depot, American Express and General Electric, among others.
The beauty sector — with its opportunities in service as well as products, multi-faceted marketing potential based on a wide universe of lifestyle themes, and an army of influencers and makeup and hair professionals happy to take a turn at a lively Chelsea boutique — is especially well suited for Story. It’s the ultimate pop-up, in a way: a temporary retail experience that can yield loads of data and lessons learned, but in a spot where, for the past six years, city shoppers have come to expect fun experiences, compelling merchandise and a fresh set of pretty much everything every few weeks.
It’s also the latest sign that consumer brands previously dependent on retailers are willing to go it alone when it comes to selling and showcasing their goods. Many brands have learned from Amazon that selling directly to consumers allows them to control their brand message and distribution, although they’re also unearthing a lot of intelligence for Amazon to sift through, too, to potentially use to develop its own private label competition. And shows how a mass-market stable like Coty, now merged with CPG giant Procter & Gamble's beauty business, is unwilling to let the disruption that's happening in the space (including subscription-based and private label upstarts) go unchallenged.