istyle's approach aims to entice customers back into brick-and-mortar outlets by infusing a sense of fun and excitement.
“I feel that the experience of the coronavirus pandemic has increased the desire of consumers to shop at fun stores. The value of @cosme STORE is that we offer many opportunities to enjoy discovering various brands and encounter new products that are difficult to create in regular stores. Now that the coronavirus has subsided, I believe that this is being recognised as a value,” said Hajime Endo, representative director, president, and COO, istyle Inc.
‘A virtuous cycle’
Creating enjoyment beyond shopping has organically created buzz on social media, which in turn has attracted others to their @cosme stores.
“What people are looking for has shifted from simple shopping to an enjoyable experience. And people have posted about this on social media, and many people who see this are attracted to @cosme STORE and come to the store. This creates a virtuous cycle,” said Endo.
Endo elaborated that this was evident with the launch of @COSME TOKYO, which opened in January 2020 in the fashionable Harajuku district.
“As we aim to be a store that is highly compatible with social media, we are creating a store where people can have fun, so people naturally gather. And by having people spread the word about the experiences they have enjoyed, that becomes content and entertainment, and we can create even more products. attract people. I realised how important this cycle is as I watched the Harajuku store grow.”
Its 1,300-square-metre store houses a large selection of cosmetic products from mass-market brands to luxury brands.
Shoppers can discover new products through the @cosme Best Cosmetic Awards zone, a hall of fame for the most-loved products of @cosme members. There is also a Weekly Ranking wall, which ranks the most popular items on the @cosme website weekly.
Additionally, the store makes it easy for consumers to test products at the tester bar. Shoppers can also drop off their bags at the in-store lockers and drop their kids off at the play area to freely shop around.
Furthermore, @cosme app users can also access the third floor, which houses a lounge, a powder station, as well as an oxygen capsule.
The company credits the social media appeal of @cosme TOKYO as one of the main reasons it bounced back from the COVID-19 crisis sooner than expected.
“I believe that the value of the Harajuku store as a marketing tool was one of the major reasons why we were able to emerge from the coronavirus crisis sooner than other companies. This is the result of the fusion of media and retail creating great synergy,” said Kei Sugawara, director, vice chairperson and CFO.
Expanding store network
In 2020, the global spread of the new coronavirus had a significant impact on istyle Inc and its brick-and-mortar stores.
As of 2023, however, the firm has seen the light at the end of the tunnel with the return of shoppers and to a certain extent, the return of tourists to Japan.
According to the firm, not only are more customers visiting their stores, but the purchase rate and the number of items bought are also on the rise.
As of November 2022, sales at existing stores were almost the same as pre-coronavirus levels.
Furthermore, the company has been expanding its store network. Most recently, it unveiled @cosme OSAKA, its first flagship store in the Kansai region. This followed the launch of @cosme TOKYO.
The company had originally planned to expand @cosme STORE to at least five major cities in Japan.
In addition to launching these directly managed stores, it has also partnered with other retailers like MiSUGI to open cosmetic speciality stores.
According to the firm, it has also been approached by Japanese beauty retail companies, Cosmetics Sydney and Tokyo Komachi by MIZ Ltd, and will be working with them to expand its offline footprint.