Experiential retail: Glossier’s San Francisco cafe takeover


At WGSN, we’ve reported heavily on experiential retailing (subscribers, head here for our Interactive Play: Experiential Retail Strategies report), and beauty industry disruptor Glossier has come up with an  interesting retail experience initiative to consider.

The make-up brand has opened ‘Glossier at Rhea’s Cafe’, a pop-up cafe in a month-long sales and marketing push in San Francisco that mixes both food and beauty products.

The mainly-online brand has launched previous food collaborations in New York but this is the biggest one yet and involves a complete takeover of Rhea’s.

Products from the beauty brand are displayed throughout the location and can be tested and bought on the premises.

While the beauty products are very visible, they don’t feel intrusive if you’re there to eat. The make-up, for instance, is displayed on counters next to fresh flowers. And the props used to display the make up are traditional restaurant ones which offers up a feeling of discovery rather than regular self-service retail.


Glossier Instagram

The food itself can be eaten on-site but also comes in compostable takeaway packaging that was created specifically for the collaboration. And it comprises only the cafe’s most popular items such as its buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, Korean steak sandwich chicken katsu sandwich, fries, and two salads, to keep things simple.

The cafe owner James Choi said he thought Glossier was mad when it first approached him as he hadn’t heard of the brand until a number of female friends gave him glowing reviews. Of course, he was partly convinced by the exposure the pop-up would give to his business.

But it’s clear that the two brands have a lot in common. As well as reaching out to socially-minded Millennials, they were also founded with the same thinking, the entrepreneurs wanting to offer something that wasn’t already out there in the market. And this collab certainly takes a novel approach to marketing as well as retail for both brands.

The cafe is open until April 15 at 2200 Bryant Street in San Francisco.

For more on experiential retail, subscribers can read all our related reports on WGSN Insight. 

Liked this? Read our Social Media Case Study: Glossier report.

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