Boots is a national treasure. The nation’s favourite pharmacy has been ticking along for donkey’s years (since 1849, to be exact), is a reliable source of all things medical and has provided a rite of passage for generations of teens dipping their toe into make-up for the first time.
So familiar are its aisles that an estimated 90% of the UK population live only 10 minutes away from one of its 2,485 stores.
Now though, the beauty chain is having a 21st century revamp to revive dwindling footfall on the high street and reinvigorate the way we shop in store. Starting from this month, the new look will roll out in 24 of its beauty halls nationwide.
But, why the change? Given more of us are choosing to shop online from the comfort of our sofas, Boots has had to think of increasingly creative ways to make its offering in store a luxe and alluring experience with benefits you can’t access at home.
"Our beauty customers are changing, they want new ways of shopping and new brands," shares Commercial Director and VP of Beauty and Gifting at Boots UK, Joanna Rogers. "They’re looking for conscious choices and better experiences from a store environment. Most importantly they want to touch, test and play with products when they are in store."
“The ambition has been to shake up our current beauty offering to create an open and inspiring environment where customers can explore,” adds Rogers. So what can we expect from the high street beauty hero?
1. Beauty counters are out, ‘zones’ are in
For starters, they’ve done away with old-school counters, replacing them with open furniture where you can sit down and consider purchases. "Together with the brands we are removing the big brand counters and making our stores a fun, inviting, inspirational space," says Rogers. Instead, you’ll be able to shop from curated ‘zones’, such as the Discovery Zone, where Boots will introduce customers to incoming trends - like K-Beauty, vegan beauty - and newly launched products.
2. You can swatch freely
One of the main reasons for choosing in-store shopping over online is the ability to see and feel the products. That said, when it comes to make-up, limited testers make trying on products tricky. Boots are discouraging stealthy swatches made behind the make-up counter in favour of its new beauty studio, where customers can take a seat in front of the mirror and try the make-up out. What’s more there will be a central Pick N Mix area filled with beauty minis and travel-sized products, so you can get a taste of products before investing in a full size.
3. Beauty specialists will help across all brands
Alongside the existing brand experts, Boots will be introducing non-brand specific beauty specialists who can provide help across all brands and categories (like an in store beauty editor offering impartial advice). “We really wanted to create a community of like-minded individuals who love their jobs and give our customers a wonderful experience,” says Rogers. “The way they’ve been recruited has been revolutionary, even down to being given the opportunity to showcase to us how passionate they are about beauty.” The unique training includes an empathy module where beauty specialists learn how to connect with customers.
4. Free masterclasses and live demonstrations
For added interest in-store, beauty specialists alongside outside experts will be creating live demonstrations and masterclasses to answer questions about products, inspire more creativity with your make-up and give practical tips on everything from application to new skincare ingredients.
5. There’s more brands than ever before
Finally, they’re working harder to bring us a new wave of modern brands, such as the top sellers from across the pond and niche skincare. Over the next 6 months, 20 new brands will be introduced to Boots’ arsenal, with 805 new products launching throughout April and May alone. More reason than ever, it seems, to get yourself down to Boots.
"This is just the start of a very exciting journey for us," say Rogers. "We have chosen the 24 stores carefully to ensure that these are geographically spread out across the regions. But all of our stores will benefit through our latest plans, for example some of our new brand launches will be available more widely. Customers can also shop all of our new, exclusive and existing brands on Boots.com and collect their beauty goodies from their local store the very next day."
5 new-to-Boots brands to try
This Danish skincare brand has a cult following around the world, but until recently, it was hard to get hold of in the UK. Now, it's one of Boots newest recruits, launching there in February to a 11,500 person waiting list. The Banana Bright Eye Creme, £30, is magic at brightening dark circles and seeing off fine lines and wrinkles.
Too Cool For School
This may look novelty but the technology behind K-beauty brand, Too Cool For School is pretty innovative. Their Dinoplatz Twisty Tail Mascara, £22.50, provides a customisable wand that can be twisted in order to change how curved the brush is, giving you the option to choose how much lift you need.
With instant fixes for stressed out skin, Skyn Iceland is a mainstay in most celebrity make-up artist kits. Ten minutes with the antioxidant packed, radiance-boosting Hydro Cool Brightening Face Mask, £12, on, and you'll feel like a new woman.
Nude By Nature
Aussie brand, Nude By Nature is already the best seller Down Under. Now Boots are bringing their 100% natural, synthetic-free make-up to you. For healthy-looking skin, the new Beach Glow Liquid Highlighter, £19, gives a delicate sheen when patted along cheekbones.
Home-grown British brand, Grounded, was first brewed up in the seaside kitchen of its founders. Made with sensitive skin in mind, the Grapefruit Coffee Scrub, £7.95, smells delicious and leaves skin feeling silky-smooth.
Are you looking forward to the Boots beauty transformation? Do you think this style of beauty counter is more appealing than what they have now? Do you enjoy a more personal experience when shopping for beauty products? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.