In an unexpected move, Barnes & Noble College is rolling out its own store within a store beauty concept called The Glossary to select college campus bookstores in the US.

The Glossary covers a range of mass and prestige products from brand names such as CoverGirl, Burt’s Bees, and Maybelline to Smashbox, Philosophy, and Lipstick Queen. The Glossary is among a wave of newer store formats, including pop-up shops and small showrooms, which provide more convenience to shoppers and clearly demonstrate how channel lines are blurring.

58% of beauty shoppers age 18-24 prefer to look up products on their phones vs ask sales associates

In its initial research, Barnes & Noble College discovered that students prefer self-discovery concepts over on-site beauty consultants, so several product displays inviting customer interaction and experimentation are featured in the beauty store. Mintel research reinforces this, as beauty consumers age 18-24 are the most likely age group to prefer to consult their phones for advice rather than ask a sales associate. These consumers are also heavy buyers of beauty products, and convenience and store location are key drivers that influence purchase decisions among younger consumers.

While consumers may never have thought to buy beauty products at a bookstore, the idea makes sense. In addition to added convenience, it makes popular name brands easily accessible to receptive audiences. These kinds of formats will shape the future of retail. The overall beauty market is experiencing slow, yet steady sales momentum, and unique store formats are becoming more popular, and necessary, as retailers strive to stand out. What’s more, this concept gives consumers a reason to shop in-store, which combats the general shift toward online shopping.

And while in-store, younger adults (age 18-24) are highly interested in digital technology when shopping for beauty products. According to Mintel, in addition to the majority redeeming coupons on their smartphones while shopping for beauty products, younger adults welcome innovations such as receiving rewards on their smartphone by scanning receipts. Needless to say, The Glossary stands to gain from being infused with technology. Free samples wouldn’t hurt either, as just under half of female consumers are interested in more samples at beauty stores.

Another distinct advantage for The Glossary is its access to male consumers. Men are taking a more vested interest in their appearance and purchasing more beauty and personal care products. The Glossary’s placement inside a store frequented by most, if not all, male and female students makes beauty products more accessible to everyone. It also makes it easy for men to shop for beauty products as they might otherwise be shy, and unsure of where to go or what to buy.

Diana Smith is a Senior Retail and Apparel Analyst at Mintel. She brings a unique background and perspective having previously spent her career growing up in advertising agencies, specializing in media planning and strategy.

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