How Barneys, Saks and Neiman Marcus are tackling luxury beauty

Luxury beauty has always been about service, exclusivity and personalization, but as the beauty industry has grown to include clean ingredients, wellness trends and game-changing indie brands, retailers have had to change their definition of luxury to accommodate changing consumer values. Over the past year, the luxury department store’s beauty counters have undergone transformations. Saks Fifth Avenue moved its beauty department at its New York City flagship to the second floor to make space for more services and brands, Barneys New York added a wellness category, and Neiman Marcus began using its millennial employees to find new brands. The luxury beauty industry reached nearly $18 billion in 2017, a 6 percent increase over 2016, according to research company The NPD Group.

This year, Neiman Marcus re-positioned its internal buying team and beauty department floor layout to cater to the indie beauty market and entice millennial buyers. Starting in January 2018, the retailer assembled a task force comprised of 25 assistant buyers, merchandise planners and coordinators for the beauty merchant division. The internal team finds new brands that fit within Neiman Marcus’s three interest groups, focusing on wellness, trendy beauty categories like CBD and its events partnership with the Indie Beauty Expo. The force operates by searching for innovative indie brands by browsing social media and reading editorial content, in addition to pulling from their own real-life shopping experiences. The task force has identified and brought in over 75 brands this year, including Hero Cosmetics, Cannuka and Sunday Riley — Neiman Marcus added another 75 new brands to its beauty department through its traditional merchandising team.

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