Ulta Beauty is opening its first Manhattan location, on the corner of 188 East 86th St. and 3rd Ave. The location will be only the second Ulta Beauty to feature Skin Laundry, a mini-facial experience for consumers on the go.
FierceRetail spoke with Jennifer Diaferio, the general manager at the new location, to hear more about what shoppers can expect from the new Ulta Beauty experience.
FierceRetail (FR): Why Manhattan and why now for this store opening?
Jennifer Diaferio (JD): We are all things beauty, all in one place, and we are confident that Ulta Beauty will be a magnet for beauty enthusiasts across Manhattan. We offer more than 20,000 beauty products from more than 500 brands across all categories and price points, as well as an array of beauty services. New York is such an important market for beauty, and we felt our growth plans supported a store in the heart of the city. We truly believe that now is the right time to open our Manhattan location. We’ve grown our brand awareness, we’ve gotten even better at site selection, and we continue to create an even more compelling merchandise assortment for our guests.
FR: What will make this location unique?
JD: Our Manhattan store, like other recent urban stores we’ve opened, will represent the same look and feel as Ulta Beauty stores across the country. The store was designed to showcase well-established and emerging beauty brands and our full-service salon. Our Manhattan location will also offer brow services by Benefit, skin services by Dermalogica, the Skin Laundry 15-minute Laser & Light Facial, and M.A.C. makeup artistry services and products.
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FR: Tell us a little bit about the new Skin Laundry and its success thus far?
JD: We are incredibly excited to offer Skin Laundry services and products in our Manhattan store. The innovative Skin Laundry 15-minute Laser & Light Facial deep cleans, brightens, releases wrinkles, treats acne and stimulates collagen for clearer, younger-looking skin. Perfect for people on the go, our guests love that the two-step facial takes 15 minutes with zero downtime, which is already being offered at our Michigan Avenue location in Chicago.
FR: What do you think has helped to fuel such a large physical expansion in 2017 when so many other retailers are closing brick-and-mortar locations?
JD: Beauty is highly experiential. Our guests gravitate to our stores because they get an experience they can’t find anywhere else. We offer more brands, categories and price points than any other retailer. On top of that, our guests can get hair, skin and brow beauty services in all of our locations. Brick-and-mortar has been vital to our growth because beauty is a people business. Ulta Beauty is about humans serving humans with hands-on "see, touch, feel" experience you can’t get anywhere else.
FR: It seems you're planning to expand to more New York locations?
JD: Ulta Beauty wants to make the best of beauty accessible to more consumers across a variety of markets. We will continue to penetrate suburban markets by focusing on convenient, off-mall locations in lifestyle centers, but we know that urban locations also represent another important growth avenue. Our rigorous analytical approach to site selection is a core competency and has contributed to the success of our stores. By the end of the year, we will have more than 40 locations in New York including new stores in Brooklyn and Greenvale.
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FR: The "experience" has become such a big part of the retail success process. Tell me a little bit about what the experience will be like for a customer walking into the Manhattan store?
JD: We like to say that we inspire beauty butterflies from the moment you step into our store—and that will certainly be true of our Manhattan location. Guests will experience all the best beauty products in a bright, open store that feels fresh, fun and real. We offer testers across mass and prestige products, which allows our guests to experiment and escape in a world of beauty. Our guests can also get pampered with hair, skin and brow services in a fun and inviting environment.
FR: What can you tell me about the vision for the future of your stores?
JD: Our new Manhattan location is one of 100 stores we will open this year. We currently have more than 1,000 Ulta Beauty locations across the country. Long-term, we project a range of about 1,400 to 1,700 stores, giving us confidence that we can continue to add about 100 stores a year for many years to come.