Counter Intelligence: How We're Shopping Now
For the three or four months at the peak of the pandemic, online shopping was our saving grace. Yet rather than returning to our old routines, the lifting of lockdown finds us adapting to an altered beauty landscape, and a lot has changed. Our skincare dilemmas have shifted, our signature staples have switched, a mask is now a must and queuing is likely. Welcome to the new normal…
The VIP Experience
With reduced numbers allowed in store, there is a different feel to shopping. But different in a good way, offering a more personal experience. You can browse at a relaxed pace, there’s plenty of space and you have our experts at your disposal (well, one metre away). “We’ve found that limiting people in-store has been really productive and we can offer more of a VIP experience,” says Jane Nottingham, manager at Space NK’s Harrogate store. “Lots of our customers have commented on how relaxed they feel and how it’s helpful that they can discuss their concerns more freely,” she adds.
“Skincare has always been one of our store’s best-performing categories, but that has definitely increased since reopening.”
A Surge In Skincare
If there’s one thing we all learnt in lockdown, it’s that less is more – particularly when it comes to makeup. Many of us have chosen to focus our efforts on our complexions instead. “Skincare has always been one of our store’s best-performing categories, but that has definitely increased since reopening,” reveals our Brent Cross store manager, Darren Seale. “Customers are taking this as an opportunity to fix their skincare issues and use less makeup. Many are rethinking their whole routine.” As Space NK’s store manager in Bath, Heather Hodgkinson has also seen skincare boom. “Our regular customers have not only been restocking their usual essentials, but also looking for new launches to treat themselves to. ReVive has been our top-selling skincare brand in store since we reopened and we’ve seen a bigger demand for NuFace tools too.”
While foundation and complexion-improving formulas can be bought online, there’s something reassuring about being colour-matched in store, with experts on hand. “We’ve seen a big rise in customers wanting new foundations or revised colour matches here in Bath as a lot of us have been spending more time in the sun or want something with lighter coverage,” explains Heather. Sam Walshe, Space NK Sevenoaks’ manager, echoes this and believes the fact that we can still offer samples and testers is a huge bonus. “We have adapted our protocols so that customers can apply the products on themselves with disposable applicators. This has meant we can still offer our usual high level of one-to-one service and customers can leave the store confident that they’ve got the right formula and shade for them,” she says. The new socially distanced colour matching has also allowed customers to gain a new level of confidence. “Guiding the customer in the way to apply the product themselves allows them to get used to the technique, so they leave with the knowledge of how to recreate the look themselves,” adds our Cambridge store manager Alys Britton.
When hair salons announced their closure, many of us went into panic mode. How were we going to cope without our regular trims and colour refreshes? With this in mind, at-home hair treatments became much-loved lockdown staples. “As soon as we opened our doors we saw a flurry of activity as customers rushed to restock favourite products they’d been stretching out during lockdown, as well as seeking help with new beauty dilemmas – particularly relating to their hair,” says Sam Walshe, adding, “Olaplex has been a firm favourite as it works wonders on distressed locks in need of a cut a well as helping to revive coloured hair.” Alys, too, has felt the love for Olaplex, amongst other hair heroes. “I’ve noticed more customers shunning chemical treatments and seeking new products that enhance their natural colour and texture,” she reveals.
Appreciating the small things, such as the uplifting comfort of a scented candle or diffuser – has been another lockdown lesson that we continue to follow. “Spending more time at home has meant many of us have focused on creating a calm living space and we’ve seen a big rise in home-fragrance sales,” says Sam. “Lighting a candle is a great way to instantly change the ambience of a room and it’s a self-care ritual in itself – great for those working from home or anyone feeling stressed in these uncertain times.”