Wander Beauty is the latest beauty brand to get into the pop-up fray.
On April 25, Wander Beauty will open its first physical retail outpost, on the Upper East Side in New York. Contrary to what’s typical, the 4-year-old beauty company is not using the pop-up as a step toward opening standalone stores quite yet or as a way to diversify from its wholesale store partnerships, which include Sephora, Nordstrom and Birchbox. Instead, the new location is meant to drive traffic the brand’s direct-to-consumer e-commerce site, said co-founder and CEO Divya Gugnani. Currently, Wander Beauty’s wholesale-to-DTC split is an even 50%, according to Gugnani.
While the beauty pop-up lever is one that is often flexed during buzzy events — think YSL Beauty at Coachella — or for product or category launches, as Shiseido did with its color cosmetics relaunch and Nars did with its mascara re-tooling, it’s not usually a direct play for e-commerce customers.
Wander Beauty, for its part, plans to use its pop-up to increase its online sales and engagement. At the pop-up, the beauty brand will taking a twofold approach: First, it will be collecting customer data for its text and email lists. It will also be engaging in IRL crowdsourcing to develop deeper customer relationships and brand loyalty. Wander Beauty said it experienced a 321% year-over-year net revenue growth between 2017 and 2018, and industry sources told Women’s Wear Daily that the brand should exceed $30 million in retail sales in 2019.
To start, the beauty company is communicating the pop-up heavily through its text messaging service for shoppers in the area (the text service launched in July 2018) and via email. Though average product basket sizes on WanderBeauty.com are around $60 for non-text and email subscribers (products start at $11 for a lip and cheek gel and reach $68 for a skin-care trio kit), text and email participants’ shopping carts are about 30% higher, according to the brand. Text notifications connecting to Wander Beauty’s e-commerce site via specific links, specifically, have been a win for Wander Beauty, much like Dirty Lemon. After its trial period from July to September 2018, it signed up 15,500 new subscribers to the service, and it is now signing up around 500 people a day.
When customers visit Wander Beauty’s pop-up beginning this week, they will also be asked to enroll in the text service to get access to weekly giveaways, consumer-facing classes held at the store and new launches, including a new skin-care-meets-makeup hybrid that debuts this summer. Text subscribers will be able to the purchase the product several days earlier than non-subscribers via a WanderBeauty.com link, said Gugnani.
“These multiple connection points allow us to keep a relationship with a person over the long term and engage with them in the ways that work best for them,” said Gugnani.
At the pop-up, Wander Beauty will be showcasing its largest product assortment, of 31 products. At Sephora, the brand sells 28 items and Nordstrom only sells 24 products. The pop-up will also be a test bed for new products and an opportunity for the brand to further build out its community base. At the store, a portion of the space will be dedicated to creating a hero, evergreen makeup palette, set to debut in 2020. Until now, all of Wander Beauty’s palettes have been limited edition and seasonal. Customers will be asked to bring photos and other pieces of inspiration to the store to create a large-scale Wander Beauty mood board during May and June, said co-founder Lindsay Ellingson. Wander Beauty text and email subscribers will be able to send photos digitally via email. In July, all participants and the brand’s existing community will vote on the resulting shades, as determined by the brand.
“After choosing the shades, the people who came up with these ideas will then be included in marketing and digital campaigns to really show our commitment to co-creation and our customers,” said Ellingson. Until now, the brand has only used digitally crowdsourcing for product development. In 2017, the brand surveyed 300,000 shoppers for shades of its Lipsetter Dual Lipstick and Liner, which is a brand bestseller. Last year, for its BRB Multipolish, it polled 10,000 skin-care and beauty enthusiasts in a closed Facebook group and 500,000 shoppers via text, email and its social channels. By bringing its co-creation capabilities to a real-life setting, Ellingson said it would be an opportunity to connect with loyalists and new customers alike.
“If you look the expansion of DTC brands today, like Casper, Allbirds and Warby Parker, they have taken their DTC presence and expanded it into physical retail to then drive to their sites,” said Gugnani. “In beauty, we haven’t really seen that experience come to life in the same way, because it’s about purely selling or just social engagement. We think our pop-up can mirror our site and all the ways we are already communicating with our customers.”