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Beautyque NYC Founder: ‘Being Inauthentic is Going to Guarantee Failure’

Few purchases need to be as tailored to an individual shopper’s needs as beauty products, and this need for granular personalization extends beyond the products themselves to the type of experience the shopper wants. Beautyque NYC aims to bring beauty retail to the next level by offering immersive, personalized experiences to its customers no matter where they are — through both its immersive 3D virtual store and brick-and-mortar pop-ups.

“What we see, and what many other companies are seeing as well, is shoppers are looking for personalized, immersive experiences when they engage with beauty brands,” said Sonia Khemiri, Founder and Owner of Beautyque NYC in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Beauty and beauty brands are very personal. [Customers] seek that genuine connection and they value the brands that prioritize transparency, inclusivity and sustainability. The customer appreciates the tailored recommendation, the interactive content, the opportunities to learn about new products and techniques with tutorials, live events and virtual consultations.”

Beautyque keeps up with its customers’ demands in multiple ways. One of the key components of this strategy is the brand’s Beauty Club membership program, which provides a direct connection to shoppers, along with results from focus groups Beautyque runs. Khemiri also puts an emphasis on authenticity and transparency, since without those elements you don’t have trust, and trust is central to how Beautyque appeals to its customers. This extends to how the brand looks at its marketing campaigns; Beautyque doesn’t use paid influencers and it ensures that all product testimonials offered are real.

Being authentic doesn’t guarantee our success but being the opposite — being inauthentic — is going to guarantee failure,” said Khemiri. “For us it’s better to be authentic and go slow. That way the trust is never broken.”

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Beautyque: Founded with Personalization in Mind

Beautyque NYC has had its fingers on the pulse of beauty customers since its inception. Khemiri, who has a background as a financial analyst, and Co-founder Sylvie Giret were finalizing a lease for their first SoHo store in March 2020 — right at the start of the pandemic. This left beauty customers with few choices for a proper hands-on shopping trip, but the technology was in place to help them have at least some of that experience at home. Khemiri knew that during the time of lockdowns and shelter-at-home orders, shoppers wanted an experience, and Beautyque’s virtual store gave it to them.

Doing a regular website was out of question, [but] 3D virtual technology already existed,” said Khemiri. “I had the chance to work in the video games industry for a few years, so I knew the technology behind it — not from the technical side, but I was immersed in it. I was just asking questions with my co-founder about how [we could] use this, and by accident or chance we had a 3D plan of the store we meant to open.”

The retailer also offered a highly curated selection of products from the start, which made the aforementioned methods for enabling personalization an important part of running the ecommerce side of the business. Understanding what shoppers want, both in terms of experience and selection, has been a vital part of Beautyque’s success.

Pop-Ups Offer Further Personalization Opportunities

Pop-ups also have been an important part of the Beautyque NYC experience, particularly in the post-COVID environment, and the retailer has participated in more than seven over the past three years in both New York and Los Angeles. Its current space in SoHo, created in partnership with Doors.nyc, was designed to provide exposure for its curated brands.

The store started as a six-month venture but has become a flagship for Beautyque. The Doors.nyc experiential pop-up concept will continue hosting other retailers, as well as future activations with Beautyque, but the SoHo space gives the retailer’s most loyal customers a physical meeting place to connect.

Many of these shoppers are part of the Beauty Club, which has 5,000 members that form the core of Beautyque’s personalization efforts. Members share information about themselves in questionnaires, and many choose to participate in focus groups and access free products in return for feedback. A brick-and-mortar space where they can come together for events creates even more opportunities to learn from them.

“The 3D virtual store brought a lot of curiosity, and in the future we will be able to leverage more technology for it, but it’s not going to connect us with the customer,” said Khemiri. “Since we have the pop-up shop, we can invite them to be in our physical space a lot because we want to see them, we want to meet them and we want to hear from them in person. They play an essential role for us because they give us feedback that nobody else will give, and we can refine the offering and create a more personalized experience. If not for them, we couldn’t have done it.”

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