The first H Beauty store opened in Essex, UK, last month, with a second penned to open soon in Milton Keynes – another large shopping hub outside of London. Harrods said the stores offered consumers a “new beauty experience” and destination “to see and be seen”, stocking over 90 brands across makeup, skincare and fragrances and featuring masterclass and treatment zones and a champagne bar. Harrods had also launched its H Beauty concept online.
Harrods H Beauty is ‘all about experience’
Fflur Roberts, head of global luxury goods at Euromonitor International, said the stores took Harrods one step further in its goal to upgrade how consumers shopped the beauty category, beyond the work already achieved with its iconic London beauty hall unveiled last year.
“These stores will add much excitement around the world-famous Harrods brand and will also go some way to cement Harrods’ position as a leading retailer in beauty and wellness on a global stage,” Roberts told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
“…The H Beauty store concept is all about experience and is essentially taking the essence of what’s great about the new beauty halls in Harrods and making this accessible to a far more broader audience and demographic,” she said.
Stores to attract consumers ‘from all income groups’
Roberts said the H Beauty stores would stretch Harrods beyond its regular clientele because of the out-of-London locations and strong focus on in-store experience.
“The affluent consumers and high-net-worth individuals in these more local areas will, of course, be attracted to Harrods’ new H Beauty stores, but [the stores] will attract consumers from all income groups – especially in the lead-up to Christmas and the holiday season.”
The inclusion of a champagne bar set to serve a variety of drinks, cakes and small dishes, for example, would draw in local shoppers looking to have that Harrods experience outside of London; providing a welcome alternative to travelling into central London during COVID-19, she said.
“I see H Beauty being hugely successful and it could not have come at a better time for the retailer. For consumers to make an effort to go to an actual brick-and-mortar store, there needs to be an element of in-store experience on offer.”
H Beauty taps into the ‘specialist retailer’ boom
Roberts said that the stores also tapped into ongoing consumer trends amid the COVID-19 pandemic; they were increasingly interested in specialist retailers and e-commerce platforms versus larger department stores for product discovery and purchases, for example. And for beauty specifically, she said specialist retail was particularly important for sales – representing 15% of total global beauty and personal care sales in 2019 alone.
“Whilst H Beauty falls under the Harrods umbrella, this trend is very much in favour of Harrods’ new concept stores,” she said.
However, Roberts said Harrods would have to prioritise the inclusion of products and segments that consumers were seeking out, post-COVID.
“Whilst high-end, luxury brands will always be sought after in these new retail locations, many consumers will be looking toward products that offer health and wellness benefits,” she said.
H Beauty would also do well to keep in mind that many consumers were now looking to cut down on costs given “difficult economic conditions”, she said, and so products that spanned various price points would be welcomed.
Roberts said it would be important Harrods catered to all new post-COVID consumer demands and carefully blurred online and offline, perhaps offering social media points of sale, contactless services, in-store pick-ups and virtual experiences beyond the traditional store experience.
A retail move to create ‘benchmark’ for luxury beauty
Roberts said the launch of H Beauty marked an important move in the wider luxury beauty market and would be watched closely by other retailers and brands in the category.
“With many consumers likely to retain home habits after the pandemic-linked recession, catering for those needs in the form of product formats, accessibility and experiences will need a strategy rethink. Many retailers in the overall luxury beauty space will lean towards Harrods as a benchmark and learn from their experiences during this time,” she said.