I was talking to someone last week, when I was told that a couple of luxury beauty brands will be setting up freestanding shops soon. Now, most of us would have been used to seeing freestanding luxury shops for leather goods or clothes or accessories, but not many for beauty right?
In recent years, I did notice some beauty brands breaking away from being housed in multi-brand department store beauty halls. Clinique is a noticeable breakaway with some standalone counters, and Shu Uemura has long had its own shop for a while as does Kiehl’s and Bobbi Brown. From the luxury brands, I have noticed that Chanel has its own beauty store in 2 major malls locally, and soon, Dior will join in with their own standalone Dior Beauty store.
So it got me thinking (Dangerous business, this thinking thing…)
Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?
Do you prefer to shop in a department store beauty hall, with the different brand counters surrounding you for variety and choice? Do you prefer somewhere like Sephora or Sasa which is just dedicated to all things beauty (albeit pretty much like a department store beauty hall) with different brands in one place? Or do you prefer going straight to a specific brand’s standalone counter or store outside of a beauty hall?
Curious minds want to know! 😀
For myself, I prefer shopping in a multi-brand environment.
My first choice will always be a department store beauty hall (specifically Isetan) because I am a loyalty card member and I can collect points for rebate vouchers. That’s always a plus point – getting something back from all the money I spend in there! 😀
Shopping in a beauty hall allows me to browse different brands in one place, in a comfortable environment, and quite often, different levels of service from the different counters and brands mean that if I don’t get the service I expect from a brand/counter, I quite quickly move onto one that will serve me. I’ve discovered new brands and products this way. Also, it’s easier for me to just swatch and run, because I can always say that I’m browsing and move off to a different counter.
Multi-brand beauty stores like Sephora or Sasa are fine but I find the former a little boring and the music too loud and the whole place just has a pop feel that I can’t relate to (I know, weird). The latter has a service problem so I only go in there for brands that I know I can’t get anywhere else, or unless they are on sale. I do like niche stores like Ken’s Apothecary but if I can find their brands in a department store, I buy in the department store. Points take precedence!
As for single brand standalone stores, I don’t patronize them as much simply because most times, the brands already have a counter in a department store. So, if I were to buy something, I’d buy it in the department store so I can collect loyalty points or GWP promotions. The few times I do, it’s because the brand isn’t available anywhere else, e.g. NARS.
Secondly, they intimidate me. Yes they do! When I walk into a single brand store like Chanel or Benefit, I feel intimidated because I can’t really browse, knowing full well all there is in there is just products from that specific brand. It’s not browsing friendly, and most of the time, the SA will hover like a mother hen, clucking away at you to try this and that or giving you the evil eye for messing up their display. In a department store, I can just drift away to another counter. In a standalone store, I have to physically walk out. You could say that I feel much more comfortable in a luxury designer brand’s leather goods store than in their beauty store. I just handle myself better when I’m surrounded by bags or shoes that cost thousands, instead of beauty that costs hundreds LOL
So, when I was told that most brands are setting up standalone shops because consumers now prefer to shop at a boutique as opposed to a department store/multi-brand store, I did wonder if it was the case. So, it’s now over to you to help answer my question!
Do you prefer to shop for beauty products in a standalone brand boutique? Or do you prefer a multi-brand beauty hall or store?
I’d pick a department store beauty hall first, then a multi-brand store and finally the standalone beauty boutique unless the latter is the only outlet available for a particular brand. That said, I’ve started doing a lot of my shopping online so I’d actually love if brands started setting up online stores instead! I think that’ll do better 😛
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Hani Lutfi says
I like shopping at department stores like Sephora (especially Sephora) & Sasa because I find it more convenient to look at things and buy things. I enjoy pondering over the shelves and being able to look at stuff without the salesgirls bugging me (I get very annoyed with salesgirls often). If I go to a stand alone boutique, I tend to get very shy. However, I still enjoy going to MAC because I like the brand. If it was Shu Uemura or some other high end brands though, that’s where I’m most shy & I don’t even know why. Maybe it’s the pressure of getting judged or something.
Paris B says
Gosh, don’t you get bugged by Sasa SAs? They really put me off browing in there even though there are so many interesting things and brands I might want to check out! Sephora is much better in that regard. I can browse in peace 😀
I love Sephora! Besides Watsons, Sephora is one of the few places that lets me swatch in peace!!
Sasa is a great place but the salespeople can be quite scary.
I prefer a place like Sephora because all the products are lumped together loosely by category e.g. skincare, nail polish, makeup (even though each brand gets their own stand) – at least that way I can zigzag back and forth between brands (repeatedly!) without getting hounded by the staff the way it would be at a departmental store. Plus some brands have Sephora-exclusive deals/packages e.g. Benefit’s beauty kits.
The only standalone store I frequent is MAC.
Thing is, in Singapore MAC can ALSO be found in Sephora, truly an under-one-roof deal :p
p/s Having said that in Sunway Pyramid I discovered a store called Muse, under Watsons. It’s supposed to be more upmarket and it carries fragrances as well as Yves Rocher. Compared to the original Watsons though, the sales assistants have a Sasa-like side to them if you get what I mean 😉
Paris B says
“Swatch in peace” Haha! That should be Sephora’s tagline 😀 I love browsing Sasa but their SAs really really bug me to the extent I won’t even step foot in there anymore! Puts paid to my discovering more brands that’s for sure 😛 I’ve only been to Muse once and you are right Haha! They do carry some interesting stuff in there though I wasn’t too keen on browsing either 😉
My preference is in the same order as you – department store beauty hall first, then multi-brand stores and finally the standalone beauty boutiques. I prefer department store beauty halls due to beauty vouchers and loyalty card member points especially since I am an Isetan card member. Great to see so many interesting comments here and I have learned several new information such as the Bioderma buy 1 free 1 promotion from Isabel and the Parkson offers from Jennifer 🙂
As for multi-brand store, Sephora is doing a really good job with the variety of brands on offer although there is not much perks from buying stuff there unless during sales. For Sasa, the one in BSC is pretty big for you to browse without wanting to run out quickly due to the pesky SAs compared with the smaller outlets. LOL. On standalone beauty boutique, LM is pretty good and I have received some good consultation from their SAs. Planning to get myself acquainted with the NARs SAs at Pavilion soon 🙂
Paris B says
It’s funny you know Victoria. Most of the people who have commented here say they prefer a multi-brand environment compared to a standalone boutique yet more and more standalone stores are popping up. I wonder if they’re trying to change our shopping habits? That said though I have also been told that sometimes they take it to a standalone store because it’s not always as profitable operating within a department store due to commissions and fees I suppose. I suspect that’s more the reason why, than customer’s shopping habits if us consumers are anything to judge by LOL!
I love the Isetan rebates too. It allows me to go and indulge in the household department! Bedlinen and kitchen ware can be incredible expensive so every rebate voucher helps 😛
I would prefer shopping at DFS since it’s value (usually many brands have travel exclusives or bigger sizes) and houses many brands under a roof so I can pick up everything in one place!
Paris B says
Oh absolutely! I love shopping at DFS too but I’ve been grounded in recent times so it is but a far off dream for now LOL Then again whenever I am at DFS I never know what to buy 😛
Effa Haniza says
I love doing online shopping at the moment just because we don’t have that many choices here. So whenever I’m abroad, I’d go to Parkson or Sephora to get all my beauty fixes (both make up and skincare). I even went to the same standalone brands in different places (Pavi, then Mid Valley and KLCC) just to see if the SAs would treat me better. Haha and I can’t wait to visit all these new brands in KL soon!!!
Paris B says
Online shopping is the best! If I could I’d just shop online for everything LOL Ah KL has suddenly exploded with beauty in recent times and I’m curious just who’s buying coz so many people still aren’t wearing makeup! LOL
I really much prefer a multi-brand environment. It’s much more convenient. You don’t need to go into different malls to get/browse/swatch, it’s all in one place. And much more promotion/sales! After joining the Lane Crawford beauty membership I feel so stupid not doing it earlier! You can collect points to redeem cash vouchers, and Lane Crawford does promotion so often whereas independent stores hardly ever do that!
Paris B says
Ahhh Lane Crawford is an amazing place! 😀 Do you shop at places like Facesss? Everytime I step in there, it’s always so busy and so much beauty in one place is amazing! 😀
Tine @ Beautyholics Anonymous says
Like Geek, it really depends. I’ve had good service in one single-brand standalone store but I’ve also had crappy ones in other single-brand stores. Needless to say, MAC is bad. Not a single store (even at the departmental stores) gave me good service. They prefer to serve the locals first regardless of who came first. The blatant disregard of customers who are not Caucasians is horrifying.
I’ve had great service at a standalone Chanel beauty store but not the departmental store one. Sigh. Can’t win. My favourite to date is still Mecca Cosmetica (like Sephora or Space NK). I always get top notch service and I’m never pressured to buy anything.
Paris B says
Ugh don’t get me started on MAC. There’s a reason I don’t even bother with the brand anymore much less walk into their store. Call me prejudiced. Meh 😛 Did we go to Mecca Cosmetica? I can’t remember >.< But I seriously don't get why SAs need to be so snooty. Everyone is a potential customer and who knows if they drop a ton of cash and earn you big commissions?! 😛
I never used to shop @ Mecca before I followed your blog. So you are totally responsible for all those spending money 🙂 I live in Adelaide by the way. I can’t wait to check out Oskar hair salon that you mentioned many times.
Sorry I have to ask you the question I ask everyone at the moment, do you think HK is better for cosmetic or Singapore?
Hi lovely Paris B,
I live in Australia and I am sure when you travelled here you noticed that cosmetic things are pretty expensive. I buy in departments totes if they have gifts going on. I also buy online a lot as I love some UK brand like Emma hardie.
I am going to Singapore and HK this year, do you know if Singapore is cheaper or HK?
Paris B says
Hi Grace, yes I was quite horrified by the prices of products and cosmetics in Australia. Revlon in particular shocked me because it’s almost dollar for dollar with prices here which are about a third of what you would otherwise pay there! As for whether prices in Singapore or HK are cheaper, I’d say it depends. I think they are pretty much on par, with HK maybe having the edge in Asian brands as they have many cheaper stores like Sasa, Bonjour, Angel etc that sell them cheaper than in department stores/pharmacies and Singapore having the edge for Western brands as I found them significantly pricier in HK. I can’t speak for prices in Singapore which I find higher than in Malaysia for certain items, so I’d say it’s pretty much on par with HK depending on what you’re looking for and where you buy it.