Physical SpacesOctober 8, 2020

MAC Cosmetics’ NYC Concept Store Signals ‘New Age’ for Beauty


In a 1962 episode of The Jetsons, matriarch and style-queen Jane Jetson is jostled awake by the raucous wails of her videophone. Alarmed that she might appear less-than-chic, Jane swiftly scurries off to put on her “morning mask”—a slip-on, made-up version of her own face—before answering the call.   


And while we may still be lightyears away from an IRL instant-face, global beauty brand MAC Cosmetics is giving its shoppers the Jane Jetson treatment—and then some. Unveiled last week, MAC’s New York City concept store is a futuristic playscape for beauty gurus, beauty beginners, and everyone in-between.


Located in the iconic Queen’s Center shopping mall, the new store enables shoppers to become creators of their own experience. Blending high-glamour, space-age design, and innovative digital technology, MAC’s new concept store has upgraded the customer experience with ultramodern flair. 


Developed in collaboration with Valtech, a global business transformation agency, the store houses eleven virtual mirrors that equip customers with the power to transform themselves into hundreds of new looks—all without batting an eyelash. 


Queens, NY. MAC Cosmetics retail store at Queens Center.


Those seeking out staple items, such as foundation, no longer need to worry about swatching scores of shades before finding the perfect fit. Instead, in-store shoppers can use a skin tone-matching, infrared touchscreen to find their ideal foundation shade. 


The store’s new virtual features come at a time when the beauty industry has had to rethink in-store try-on services: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the beauty industry had seen tremendous growth of its physical footprint, largely due to customer demand for touch-and-feel experiences.


MAC and Valtech kept this preference in mind when designing the store’s ‘pick and try’ feature. Powered by augmented reality, data analytics, and RFID, this new digital tool allows customers to pick up any lipstick in-store and watch as it instantly appears on the lips of their own reflection. 




[Listen Now: RETHINK Retail Podcast with MAC’s VP of Brand Technology, Chris Silver:]


When they like what they see, customers can save their looks to a digital ‘Mac Pass’ profile that can later be accessed at home. 


Jon Hingston, Valtech’s vice president of connected experiences, told RETHINK Retail that the new concept also offers a unique, ‘localized’ store online experience to customers, where shoppers can now access information about their local store.


“Not just opening hours, but artists’ creative profile and bookings, new product and looks drops, and customized messaging,” Hingston revealed. “It’s a fantastic way to keep in touch with customers in a hyper-localized, preference-targeted way.” 


Custom eye palettes for ultimate self-expression


Other key features of the store include an eyeshadow palette station where customers can select from 108 colors to create the perfect custom palette as well as options to customize product packaging with images, text or stickers. 


“With retail and online merging, businesses need to present a consistent brand experience wherever they engage with the customer,” Hingston said.  “But the experiences should be light and playful, providing immersive, instant ways to try-on and experience the brand.”


Although what comes next for beauty is yet to be seen, if MAC’s new concept is any indicator, Jane Jetson’s morning mask may not be so far off after all.