Beauty subscription service, Birchbox, is set to unveil its second permanent physical location, this time in Paris.
Hot on the heels of several successful pop-ups in the French capital, including within Le Bon Marche and Galeries Lafayette, it will open at 17 rue Montmartre this spring.
It follows the first Birchbox store opening in New York in July 2014, which is referred to by the team as “a powerful way to connect with our customers”. Shoppers to that store go on to have a three-times higher lifetime value with the brand, the press release explains.
“With 90% of beauty still purchased offline, we wanted our French team to have the same opportunity to interact with their customers in the physical world,” it adds.
The Paris store will mirror that of the New York one, which is an extension of the online experience. The aim is to deepen relationships with French subscribers, introduce Birchbox to new customers, and build partnerships with new beauty brands.
France is its biggest market in Europe, ahead of the UK, Spain, Belgium and Ireland, where it also operates.
The news comes despite two rounds of staff layoffs at Birchbox during 2016, which it said were the result of it needing to get to profitability quicker than planned because of a shift in how investors are valuing growing, but money-losing, startups, Recode reported last summer. It since raised a $15 million “lifeline” from current investors.
According to Birchbox, it saw a particularly strong holiday season, with US sales more than 10% ahead of its acquisition results year-on-year for the month of December. It also says it plans to open more stores in the US in the foreseeable future.
What better time of year for something a bit fun and interactive than at Christmas. With an increasing movement towards more in the way of technology that actually resonates with consumers, we’ve seen all sorts of campaigns deployed this season to enhance the festive experience in both physical and digital spaces.
From chatbots to virtual reality devices, not to mention increasingly clever applications on social media, all things digital are proving key for successful holiday seasons to come.
Here we’ve rounded up all of the best of this year’s initiatives across the fashion and retail space. Don’t forget to also check out our best picks of the festive films for 2016.
Technology aids in merging physical with digital
The evolving presence of tech in the holiday season was first spotted when John Lewis launched its Christmas campaign in the UK a few weeks ago. Included was an in-store activity where visitors could experience its Buster the Boxer commercial through virtual reality headsets.
Shortly after, eBay opened a two-day pop up in London that aimed to be the first store run on ‘emotions’. Visitors could browse gift items and select the ones they responded to the best, according to bio-analytic and facial technology.
Next we saw Hearst Magazines teamed up with Blippar to create the world’s first ‘augmented reality retail district’ in Covent Garden. Magazine editors worked with 35 participating retailers to bring to life beauty and fashion gift guides that are only available to view through the Blippar app. Further gamification included using the app over the district’s Christmas tree, located in the famous Piazza, to unlock retailer and restaurant discounts.
Meanwhile in New York, department store window displays are being celebrated through a campaign from Google called Window Wonderland, which allows users to experience 18 displays, from the iconic Bergdorf Goodman to Macy’s and Tiffany & Co, also through the magic of VR. Each can be zoomed in and even come with audio guides from some of the store creatives talking about this year’s work.
The experience was produced by Google’s Art, Copy & Code team by taking hundreds of high-resolution images of each store and then stitching them together so they can be viewed via a web browser, on a smartphone or tablet, or through a VR headset.
In a nod to the lesser trend of wearable technology this season, Samsung is celebrating the launch of its new G3 smartwatch in Piccadilly Circus from Dec 1 until Christmas Eve, with one choir performance a day, showcasing holiday spirit from around the world. Aiming to bring Londoners and visitors together, each choir comes from a different culture or country, ranging from France to Bangladesh.
The key part however is that selected choir members will wear the new smartwatch, which will measure their heartbeats, movements and calories burnt. The biometric results have then been transformed into visuals, displayed on eight screens around the stage.
Social media spans chatbots to live video
Beyond creatively deploying technology in physical environments, brands are taking to social media to explore new and different ways they can engage and encourage followers to get excited for the season.
Conversation was also the name of the game for Agent Provocateur this season, albeit in a human capacity. The lingerie brand took to Whatsapp for a campaign led by its agency Cult LDN. Referred to as a Ménage à Trois, it helped couples choose ideal gifts by chatting within a group.
In a simpler way, we’ve also seen retailers like Macy’s pushing its “The Santa Project” campaign over social media with ads on Facebook Canvas and Instagram Marquee, while also encouraging followers to record their own videos explaining why they #Believe in Santa.
Also deploying video is Barneys New York, which has promoted a stylish Secret Santa featuring a group of influencers, from Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine to DJ Mia Moretti. #BarneysUnwrapped lives on the retailer’s Instagram page, where each participant stars in an individual video unwrapping their gift, subtly encouraging viewers to buy said items at Barneys, of course.
Needless to say, there’s also been a big focus on Snapchat this season with retailers such as Kohl’s taking the tried-and-test route of Sponsored Geofilters and John Lewis a Sponsored Lens themed to Buster the Boxer.
Sweet, Hearst’s Snapchat-only media channel, meanwhile ran a two-day pop-up ‘shop’ sponsored by Maybelline. It released a gift guide with over 100 snaps, ranging from affordable to expensive, with Maybelline ads running in between. While Sweet’s editorial team worked on the extensive gift selection, it also developed fun and shareable content such as GIFs and catchy phrases, hoping viewers would screengrab their wish list items and send to friends.
Despite the success of a Snapchat giveaway campaign during this year’s Black Friday, US beauty subscription box Birchbox experimented with Instagram Stories in a “12 Days of Christmas” initiative for the holidays instead. It revealed prizes and discounts from partners such as Hilton and Athleta, in a campaign hosted by actress Sophia Bush.
This sort of staggered giveaway as a strategy, has been deployed by a number of other American retailers this year, including Target for Black Friday, and JetBlue with another 12-day campaign in a bid to get customers to come back and interact day after day.
Meanwhile with live video on a steep incline, Facebook Live has been the focus for a lot of brands ahead of the holidays. UK retailer Primark, an active user of the feature, has recently promoted a series of giveaways under the “Go, Get and Gift” headline, where viewers who answered questions correctly the quickest would be rewarded discounts and gifts.
ASOS ran a similar campaign that grabbed viewer’s attentions by asking them to guess what was packed inside mysterious bags as tips and hints slowly unfolded, with all the right answers entering a prize draw.
What this also proves is that with digital media so embedded in customers’ lives, brands are particularly embracing chances to grab audience attention while they’re willing to join in; during a positive and festive time of the year. The holiday season, unlike its divisive younger sister Black Friday, is the perfect opportunity for them to convey a message of unity and fun, while experimenting with all that the newest tech has to offer. Look out for much more of this ahead too however.
If there’s one thing that’s grabbed everyone’s attention this past fortnight, it has of course been Pokémon Go. The augmented reality mobile game has reportedly gained as many users as Uber and Tinder, topped Twitter’s daily users, and started seeing people spend more time with it than in Facebook. It also caused Nintendo’s share price to increase by more than $7bn.
Beyond that, the news to know in the fashion, digital comms and technology space this week (and there’s a lot of it!), spans everything from an experiment with DNA in textile design to the plethora of changes at the helm of the industry’s luxury houses, the impact artificial intelligence might have on brands, not to mention how we’re faring with virtual reality so far…
Fashion that gets under the skin – designer creates leather prototypes grown from Alexander McQueen DNA (as pictured) [NY Times]
There are lots of updates this past week on interesting textile developments – from the spider silk of Bolt Threads to Spiber, both of which have announced new deals with Patagonia and The North Face respectively. Also worth a read is the anonymous social media exec spilling secrets to Digiday, not to mention the idea that we will all indeed be buying our designer clothing in the future on Amazon. If that’s not enough, further fashion and tech news from the past fortnight spans Birchbox’s use of Facebook Live to a breakdown of how brands are using Snapchat. Read on for all…
L’Oréal invests in Founders Factory digital start-up incubator [BrandChannel]
Bolt Threads raises $50 million to brew spider silk, inks deal with Patagonia [TechCrunch]
Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: ‘We threw too much money at them’ [Digiday]
People will eventually buy their designer clothing on Amazon, because they buy everything there [Quartz]
Everlane’s Shoe Park interactive pop-up offers self-guided shopping [Footwear News]
How Birchbox uses Facebook Live videos to engage consumers [Retail Dive]
How Frank + Oak built a modern loyalty program for men [Glossy]
You may remember Google launched a series of shoppable Hangouts on Air with brands like Diane von Furstenberg, Rag & Bone and others late last year. Now, it’s introducing an app called Showcase, which will enable anyone to incorporate content alongside their live broadcast, including links to websites, merchandise, YouTube videos and more. All of it will appear in a panel on the right hand side of the Hangout.