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Atelier Beauté Chanel: The Experiment

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Stores in which the shopper can experiment and in which an immediate pressure to buy is absent are pretty thin on the ground. Yet visit the just-launched Atelier Beauté Chanel in New York’s SoHo and this is almost entirely what the store is about.

Visitors to this one can wander through a series of in-store zones, each aimed at allowing experimentation with a particular part of a beauty regimen, lips, eyes, skin and suchlike. And to enhance the experience Chanel asks shoppers to create an online profile of themselves, on which they can save their product preferences (as well as buying and saving favourites), in order to make shopping a little easier.

The real point about the store however is that there is advice waiting to be given (for a relatively modest fee) at almost every turn from in-store ‘experts’, but again the requirement to buy something does not make itself felt.

All too often, the end-point of any retail ‘experience’ is the moment at which money changes hands in exchange for a product. This is certainly the unstated aim in this store, but at the heart of it all is a more leisurely and relaxed process, which may involve several forays before any decision is finally made.