“The idea of the Next Big Thing has always intrigued us, because I think everyone wants to know what the next big thing is about,” said Nancy Berger, vice president/publisher of Marie Claire. “It’s been a platform we’ve focused on editorially for the last few years. We even dedicated an entire issue to the Next Big Thing last January. We thought we could take that content and create a retail environment that would bring Next Big Thing to life.”
Step into the Marie Claire world
The shop is divided into three areas, named after content pillars in Marie Claire: at Work, at Play, and at Peak, with curated collections of apparel, accessories and innovative gadgets for women in their professional lives, in their down time, and for their health and nutrition. “It really brings our brand to life,” Berger explained. “I think that as a magazine brand, we think about being on different platforms. We do a lot online, we do a lot socially, so this really takes it to an experiential level. We’ve always provided content that is inspires purchasing, this takes that to a whole other level.”
The goal of the pop-up shop was to get women to play, to try on, to use the technology on display and experience the Marie Claire world. “The buying part is a benefit,” Berger said. “We wanted women to experience our brand.”
Berger calls it a terrific collaboration between the brand and their partners Mastercard, Neiman Marcus and Clarins, each company sponsoring an area of the store.
The retail space is also interwoven with technology, from experience to purchase. Visitors to the pop-up shop will be able to seamlessly make cashless transactions from anywhere within the store, using the The Next Big Thing Concept Shop app. “Mastercard is our presenting partner,” she explained. “We worked very closely with them on their ability to have consumers transact seamlessly and in a cashless way in-store.”
The space also features smart mirrors from Oak Labs that recommend additional accessories for outfits brought into dressing rooms, and Clarins’ Sensor Mirror Pro, a virtual skincare mirror by Memoni, that recommends products.
Not only is the shop a retail space, it’s an experiential space with events, activities, and other things happening every day. “Each night we have some kind of event that we ‘re hosting,” Berger explained. Programming includes visits by the Headshot Truck, a mobile photography studio, speakers including Alyson Charles, a New York-based latte artist who draws portraits in latte foam, meditation sessions and on-site nail technicians, all of which are listed on the shop’s dedicated microsite.
Berger explained that the pop-up store was a big collaboration between the business side and the editorial side of Marie Claire, as well as their partners.
Partnerships between brands and advertisers are incredibly important for a variety of reasons, according to Berger. “One, obviously we only do these things if we see it is a profitable endeavor, which it is,” she said. Marie Claire’s partners Mastercard, Neiman Marcus and Clarins also brought different things to the table in the process. “All of our partners are all retail-driven companies. They’re also testing new things, so I feel like they want to come and see Next-Gen solutions to their retail experiences.”
“This is a massive effort, this was a big undertaking,” Berger said. “But you know, brands now, we need to be bold, we need to do things differently, we need to experiment and try. It’s what we all have to do.”
For other publishers looking to delve into bricks and mortar retail locations, Berger says being able to curate merchandise and knowing who your customer is going to be, is important to consider. “We thought about the women who would be most receptive to this, and curated for that audience,” she said.
Asked whether Marie Claire would pop-up again in a retail space, Berger said: “I think year-one is always the hardest because you don’t always know exactly what to expect. Year two, you take the learnings from the first year and you can grow it in a lot of different ways. If I was a betting woman, I would say, yes, we’ll do it again.”
The shop is open September 23-October 12, located at 120 Wooster Street in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, and open seven days a week from 11:30 am to 8:30pm.
Mobile app: marieclairenextbigthing.com.
Images: Cindy Ord/Getty Images
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