MAC Opens Doors To Digitally-Driven Concept Store In Queens, NYC

October 6, 2020 by Dave Haynes

The beauty brand MAC has launched a new digitally-driven brick and mortar concept store in the gentrifying Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York.

The store uses plenty of digital display, including a stacked set of skinny bezel LCDs and what looks like an LED halo over part of the open floor plan. But the big feature is 16 customer stations set up with augmented reality virtual try-on mirrors.

Like some other technologies that have grown from novelty to essential, the AR mirrors let women (and I guess some men) try on makeup-y things like eye shadows and lip glosses (wildly out of my element here) without touching or using sampler product that might have been used by someone else and could, I guess, harbor COVID.

Early AR for trying on outfits and clothes was predictably bad, but is now accurate and lifelike, and MAC has seen a big uptick on virtual tools for mobile and online since the pandemic started.

The Mac Innovation Lab: Queens Center drafts off a similar store already set up and successful in Shanghai. It is the first U.S. iteration of the concept.

Philippe Pinatel, global brand president of MAC Cosmetics, told Women’s Wear Daily:

Though MAC was forced to close its stores due to the pandemic, the company has seen “very high double-digit to, sometimes, triple-digit” growth in its e-commerce business. Virtual try-on is also drumming up online consumer engagement, which has increased threefold, he said.

Innovation Lab will follow local regulation regarding COVID-19. A limited number of shoppers will be allowed into the store at one time. They won’t be able to touch products without assistance from MAC employees.

“This concept takes more than a year if you want to do it well, so it’s been in the works for quite some time,” Pinatel says. “The opportunity to launch it during COVID-19 was to understand with the rapid shift in commerce that we see today during this crisis, what will be the store of tomorrow that will work in a commerce where online and social have taken a much bigger part of consumer interest.”

I used to stay in Long Island City when I went to NYC on business because I could get a nice hotel room for $150 instead of $350, and it was 2 subway stops off Manhattan. But five years ago, high-end retailing was a Subway franchise. It’s evidently gentrified in a big way.

  1. Scoob McMasters says:

    Nothing says premium brand like shouting “#1 PREMIUM BRAND” from an LED ticker display.

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