Retail, Now with Tour Guides

Despite following the beauty industry pretty closely, I was unfamiliar with Winky Lux until I read they had opened a New York “store.” It’s not called a store, but The Winky Lux Experience, a “pop-up, designed to spark imaginations, create shareable content and foster opportunities to connect with fellow beauty lovers and friends.”

“Shareable content” of course means 101 made-for-Instagram vignettes, and Winky Lux overdelivered here (and in a kid-friendly way, as you can see). Where the experience overdelivered, though, was on education and a level of interaction that doesn’t come from selfies alone.

The 7 rooms behind the public portion of the store are small enough that not more than a few people could go through the time-slot ticketed tour at once. In this case, it was just us and a dedicated, enthusiastic, VERY knowledgeable guide. In each room, she shared the details of all the product, answered my questions in personal ways, and explained the decor’s connection to a particular collection (e.g. the meditative sand box and rake was tied to a matcha lip balm, the rainbow room a more colorful palette). A natural evangelist.

All of this was specific to Winky Lux and cosmetics, but it makes me think about how many other brands could create - and benefit from - such a high-engagement shopping model. The 10-15 minutes I spent on the tour was less than many others spend, I imagine, but still left me informed and more than intrigued. My $10 ticket was credited to a purchase, though I might have bought something anyway.

If  more stores can capture people’s attention in similarly-immersive ways, then reserved and tour-guided retail could be part of the definition that I think today’s “retail as entertainment” hypotheses sorely need. This experience captures consumer attention when it’s hard to come by and forces a product imprint that could drive long-term customer value. The question that remains is how many stores will make that brand investment and stay patient.

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