Written by Jessica Schiffer
Like everyone else hoping to maintain relevance with today’s consumers, Barneys New York has caught the wellness bug. This week, it introduced its new Conscious Beauty category in stores and online, comprised of “clean beauty” products and ingestible beauty supplements.
“The wellness trend has evolved and grown, and everybody’s talking about it,” said Jennifer Miles, Barneys’ vice president of cosmetics.
Indeed, the market is expected to be worth $13 billion by 2023, according to a recent report from Research and Markets.
“Customers are so savvy about ingredients, and very aware of what they’re putting in and on their bodies, so we really wanted to tap into that,” she said.
At this point, Barneys is playing catch-up to department store competitors. The news is reminiscent of similar endeavors launched last year by retailers like Neiman Marcus, with its Wellness Shop, and Goop’s pop-in shop at Nordstrom.
“Late or not, they’re recognizing that wellness is the new luxury,” she said. “Gucci- and Prada-heeled consumers are snapping up health and wellness experiences with the same enthusiasm as this season’s latest fashions, so it’s no surprise that Barneys is getting more aggressive with this strategy.”
Although Barneys had already begun selling some of these so-called clean products over the last few years, 10 new brands have been on-boarded, and the supplement subcategory is a first. In total, the category includes 400 products at a medium-high price point, though the actual in-store inventory will vary by location.
Barneys.com will sell the entire range, comprised of skin care, supplements and cosmetics, but store shelves will be dedicated only to skin-care and supplements for now, due to lack of space at its beauty counters.
The in-store setups will be separated from other products and involve open shelving to facilitate discovery, said Miles. Shelf-talkers (small signs conveying product details) are also being used by Barneys for the first time, to provide more information about each brand. “We felt like it was really important to have, them because this category can seem overwhelming and confusing to the customer,” said Miles. As in the rest of its beauty department, sales associates will be on hand to help customers test the new products.
As for how Barneys defines clean beauty — an elusive term in the industry — Miles describes it as products made with “pure, naturally-derived ingredients” that also have scientific research and clinical trials to back them up. “It was crucial that these brands are actually effective,” she said.
While being organic is not a key criteria, all brands in the assortment are free of synthetic ingredients. A great brand story was also crucial, said Miles, citing the small-batch, handmade narrative as particularly appealing. Luxe-looking packaging was important too.
The brands that made the cut include supplement companies like Elle MacPherson’s WelleCo and the cult-loved Moon Juice, as well as De Mamiel, a U.K.-based skin-care brand, and Grown Alchemist, a botanical beauty brand from Australia.
To further promote the new category, Barneys is following in the recent footsteps of other beauty brands that have used in-store events to drum up foot traffic.
Starting on March 3, with an appearance by MacPherson herself, the retailer will hold six events on Saturdays at its Madison Avenue location throughout March and April, featuring a combination of educational demonstrations, treatments and personal appearances by the brands’ founders. “It’s such a new, emerging category, so we wanted to let shoppers hear the stories behind the brands and ask questions directly to the people who created the lines in the first place,” explained Miles, of the thinking behind the series.
“Wellness lends itself nicely to experiential retail,” said Mikhailov, “and by incorporating these elements to the launch, Barneys is positioning itself as a destination not just for fashion, but for lifestyle trends, as well.”
Taking it one step further, a special Conscious Beauty menu will also be on hand at two of Barneys’ New York-based restaurants: Genes Café at the Madison Avenue location and Freds at the downtown store. Shoppers can expect to find snacks and drinks infused with the supplement powders being sold, like the “Brownie with Benefits,” featuring Moon Juice’s “Spirit Dust” and “Sex Dust.”
According to Miles, this first rollout is a test for the category, which the retailer expects to expand significantly going forward. “This category is going to explode in the next few years, and what we’re hearing so far is that customers are loving it.”