Makeup shopping at beauty stores and counters has always been an experience of trial and touch. Shoppers look forward to trying on different lipsticks all over their hands and testing out foundation shades on their wrists, looking and searching for that perfect one. Store associates and makeup artists have always been there to generously help customers, whether it be for a full-on beauty makeover or to test out a new product on the skin. Now in this post-pandemic after Covid-19 world that we are living in, what will become of beauty stores, and how will they adapt?
Allure.com recently spoke with experts in the beauty industry about how stores and people are coping with pandemic induced changes, covering everything from the future of in-store shopping to the prominence of beauty sample boxes. Infectious disease experts predict that in-store sampling might simply cease to exist, given that they were never very sanitary in the first place. The pandemic has become the nail in the coffin for “try-me” products with stores and customers reluctant to ever bring them back. The concern here is how in-store beauty shopping will adapt to this, as trying out products has always been a big draw for shoppers.
Stores like Ulta and Sephora continued to stay out of the so-called “retail apocalypse” in recent years, remaining a bright spot in malls and on high-streets. Many experts believe this has to do with the in-person experience of seeing, touching, and testing each product, as opposed to blindly buying it quickly online. The new no-touch policies of these stores make it less appealing to venture to a nearby mall to see the products when the same can happen easily online. Realizing this dilemma, Sephora has made it possible for customers to try onetime disposable samples of select products, along with other intense safety measures to try to lure back shoppers to the in-store experience. Associates in the store aren’t allowed to assist customers with any forms of touch and are all wearing masks while keeping all products safe and accessible. The reopened Sephoras also require that customers wear masks at all times.
Allure predicts that artificial intelligence could thrive in this post-pandemic world. With increased technology, customers could start to see how various makeup products look on them without them actually trying it on. It could be almost like a real-life video game experience where you “dress up” your own face to avoid contamination and touch. Ulta Beauty wants to push a program called GlamLab, a digital app where people can “test out” products. Apps such as GlamLab have already seen an increase in user ship amid the pandemic. Expectations suggest that technology will grow due to demand for services such as “artificial digital makeup.”
Another somewhat surprising result that industry leaders expect to see is the rise of mail-in sample boxes. Programs and companies such as BirchBox and Ipsy have remained stagnantly popular throughout the years since subscription boxes became a new phenomenon ten years ago. However, the “stay-at-home” orders and increased economic strain for many Americans make the boxes more popular since they offer a fun and cheap way to receive makeup in the comfort of your home. While the store experience continues to change, consumers continue to adapt, leaving the pre-pandemic world behind (we will miss trying every single lipstick shade though, tbh).