The Shopping Experience: Premium Cosmetics & Skincare

August 16, 2011 at 5:11 am 7 comments

The format we will follow in this post is the same as in the last post : begin by specifically mentioning those stores/brands that we think were good examples, and then give a few instances (without naming the brand) of those that were average or less than satisfactory.

Impressive : Lancome, Mac

Both brands had a lot in common – highly knowledgeable staff that were persuasive without being pushy, and were sensitive to consumer problems and preferences.

Lancome: Allow you to take your time examining products on the shelves, answer your questions and gently nudge you towards discussing your skin, it’s health and your skin care routine. From there it’s just a small step to using the viewer- with-magnification (that’s what I call it) to show you the blemishes / defects on your skin. And that device is effective ! It took every ounce of my self-control to walk away without buying a bushel of products.

(Note : My friend returned a few days later, along with a relative, and bought bucket-loads of stuff; I’m still holding out.)

Mac: Spent time with us, showed what would suit our skin the best; also, taught us how to use some of the products.


Satisfactory : Clinique, The Body Shop, Forest Essentials

These stores had knowledgeable staff, but not in the same class as the two mentioned above.


Not-so-good, a few examples of what we didn’t like :

  • Overall, little product knowledge. The sales assistant at one store started showing me sunscreens when I asked about moisturisers; at the same store, another sales assistant did not know the difference between various anti-ageing products
  • At another store, the sales assistant had no knowledge of the difference between products from two different ranges that were priced a few thousand rupees apart. After much prodding, she remembered that the expensive one had a different ingredient but she could not explain the benefit of this ingredient to us. Finally she told us that it was more expensive and that was the only difference!
  • At one store, when I picked up a bottle of moisturiser and asked about the price, the sales assistant told me that I should use a product meant for older women only, but then didn’t give me any details as to how it would benefit my skin (even my 5 year old nephew knows enough to say, “big people’s things are for big people only, and small people’s things are different”, but from anyone older, I expect details).
  • Unheeding to client needs/ preferences – either don’t know enough to respond to these or are just too lazy to check

Our verdict : The performance of staff at stores in this category was so varied that we’d hesitate to give an overall grade. Some stores get an A+, the rest get a C-.

[Disclaimer : This post deals mainly with one aspect of the shopping experience – interactions with the staff. Also, the list of outlets visited for the purpose of observation is not exhaustive.

Outlets mentioned in these posts will differ widely in terms of pricing, degree of premiumness and image; for the purposes of these blog-posts, we are still tackling all these outlets together.]


Escape Velocity Team

Entry filed under: Branded Retail, Luxury Goods, Observations, Retail. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

The Shopping Experience: High Street Apparel and Accessories The Shopping Experience: Travails at Health and Glow

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. CS  |  August 16, 2011 at 6:26 am

    she called you ‘older’ to your face?!


    • 2. escapevelocityblog  |  August 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

      Sighhh, yes, she did. and in a tone which made me feel about a million years old.
      You’re enjoying this, aren’t you, you mean person !

      Nevertheless, nice to have you visiting and commenting on the blog.



  • 3. Jannah Hagens  |  August 24, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very useful information and I care for such information. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.


    • 4. escapevelocityblog  |  August 24, 2011 at 4:54 am

      Hi Jannah

      Thanks for your comment and wishes. Glad you found it useful.
      Keep visiting or subscribe to our blog to receive email updates.



  • 5. anita  |  August 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    I totally agree about the Mac experience. I buy ‘special ocassion’ make-up from them since they are the only one who test it out on me and show me how to use it.
    I love Body Shop’s products but their sales people in some stores are very good and in some are not all that good. I guess they are still working on their consistency.


    • 6. escapevelocityblog  |  August 27, 2011 at 6:15 am

      Hi Anita,
      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


    • 7. escapevelocityblog  |  August 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Anita,
      Nice to see your comment – a) validates our experience / market work and b) adds one more data point to our knowledge of how women buy cosmetics.
      Keep reading,



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