With products that are all about image, it’s no surprise that cosmetics brands have some of the best tactics in retail merchandising. The industry has been pioneering visual merchandising in-store for years with several effective techniques. Here, we’ll go through three of the biggest merchandising lessons retailers can learn from the cosmetics industry.


Offering free samples encourages customers to buy and return

The thought of giving away some of your product for free can seem daunting and counterproductive. After all, every freebie could be seen as a loss. However, cosmetics retailers have proven that giving free samples can dramatically increase your sales. If you do it right.

Lush stores famously offer free samples of any of their products and in-store demonstrations of how they work. Sales assistants are put through extensive training to ensure they have in-depth knowledge of every product, to deliver the service Lush is renowned for. This enables them to chat to customers and find out about their needs, allowing them to give free samples of ideal products, with the aim of eventually encouraging customers to make purchases.

It’s not just Lush. Most cosmetics brands offer free samples to customers. Brands tend to have mini sizes of products on hand to offer to customers, to drive eventual sales of the full size versions.

Regardless of the business type, free samples can be incorporated with any retail merchandising. Samples of food and drink are often effective, and stores that sell products less obviously given away as samples can instead give money-off vouchers to first time customers. All of these approaches allow customers to try before they buy, and create a positive bond between brand and customer before money even changes hands.


Interactive experiences stimulate shoppers

Cosmetics have always had more interactive product placements than typical stores. Customers need to be hands on when shopping in order to find the right products, and the shelves are designed in such a way to encourage shoppers to pick products up and test them.

As mentioned, cosmetics sales assistants often test out products on potential customers, incorporating products they may not have known about to encourage sales. Lush, again, are a perfect example of this, as sales assistants bring a more interactive element to shopping, like showing off bright bath bombs in large sinks worked into store designs.

Employees gather customers to show off how the products work, and get them involved with testing the products in-store. This theatrical element, along with the free samples, has given Lush an almost cult-like following. The loyal customer base gives Lush the chance to sell products for premium prices: a bar of soap can sell for as much as £10, while toothpaste can set you back around £5.

This same concept can be applied to various retail stores, including supermarkets. Having interactive cooking classes available in store can help customers see how to use different ingredients, as well as introduce them to new recipes they may not have tried. Fashion stores could incorporate styling tips, as well as exclusive previews of collections for dedicated customers.

High-street fashion giants Oasis invited its customers to a preview of its autumn/winter 2017 collection in a bid to get to know the customers better and offer an immersive brand experience. This helps to build a buzz around the new collections, encouraging customers to purchase the pieces upon the collection launch.


Visual campaigns can help to drive sales

When it comes to cosmetics, visual campaigns are crucial. This is only natural, as the industry is oriented around its image and the image of its customers. On social media, television, and billboards, adverts for cosmetic products are extremely common. Imagery from these campaigns is often incorporated into the design of cosmetics stores and pop-ups—large posters of ad campaigns are placed around the store to promote the same products even further in a familiar way.

The idea of incorporating out of store marketing into in-store design can work in other sectors. Halifax found awareness for their brand rise exponentially after utilising the nostalgic cartoon Top Cat in adverts. The campaign was promoted extensively on the radio, TV, and billboards, as well as visuals outside and inside the banks themselves.

Retail merchandising can be tricky to get right from the get go, but with these helpful tips from the cosmetics industry, business owners can begin building relationships with customers, and encourage sales.