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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, the store houses sixteen virtual mirrors featuring a plethora of new looks, which the consumer can try in a contact-less manner —all without batting an eyelash.


MAC and Valtech kept this preference in mind when designing the store’s ‘pick and try’ feature. Powered by augmented reality technology in collaboration with MAC’s technology partners.


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: https://rethink.industries/podcast/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.”


Notably, Engagement Increased by 200% in the First Month

In the first month, store engagement increased 200%. This is average store engagement with comparable digital tools versus this store (i.e., an average of all the engagement rates at each experience).


The MAC PASS saw the strongest engagement with more than a third of consumers in-store leveraging the capability.


In the centre of the new MAC Cosmetics store, professional makeup artists are more than ready to provide their expertise. This access to professional artists has long been one of the things that sets MAC apart from the competition, and it was crucial that the new concept store not lose that. Instead, through aggregated preferences within MAC PASS STUDIO, Artists are better positioned to serve customers than ever before.


Some Feedback:

  • The lip “tap and try” experience has been called the best section of the store due to ease of navigation, clear shade imagery, and connection to Virtual Try On (VTO).


  • Eye VTO is fun and engaging, so much so that we are amplifying this section with individual eye shade try on (vs. looks).


  • Custom Printing is a favorite element of the store, with customers loving the ability to make the lip bullet / eye palette their own.


This new experience brings exceptional levels of personalisation. Everything from adding personal touches to the final packaging of purchased products to completely bespoke palettes created from the customer’s favourite colours have been considered in this push to give the user a completely unique cosmetics buying experience. And new features are planned to be rolled out in the near future. MAC is at the forefront of the future of the cosmetics experience and Valtech is proud to partner with them in bringing that future to life.


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.