How might we design the digital-first, flagship retail store of the future?

Future-proof InnovationInspirational Insight


MAC’s Innovation Lab combines the power of digital with local insight to create a retail space that adapts to market trends in real time


MAC case study post it

MAC’s Challenge

Revenue from bricks and mortar stores is declining due to increased pressure from online retail. MAC, as a leading voice in the cosmetics sector with plenty of brand equity, wanted to develop a digital-first, flagship store where it could maintain its voice, benefit from higher direct-to-consumer margins and develop more personal relationships with its customers.

They knew that to deliver a future proof store it would need to offer something that e-commerce couldn’t; an exclusive and personal connection only possible in-store. Working with Valtech, we were approached (having previously worked on Nike’s House of Innovation) to gather insights that would ensure the output was a destination that resonated with consumer .


The Sense Worldwide Approach

To deliver robust actionable insight we would need to cast our net wide and drill down deep; working closely with people who see things differently and think differently. We needed to talk to trendsetters and those with knowledge of creating brand loyalty in a modern landscape.


How The Sense Network Shaped The Future of Cosmetics Retail

We gathered unconventional perspectives from every continent (except Antarctica)! These Sensers became our team on the ground; gathering intel on what they were seeing and giving us insight into leading edge experiences happening in beauty, retail, digital and beyond.

From a hip hop festival organiser to an industrial designer, a cultural studies graduate to a classical singer; these radical thinkers highlighted the importance of playing an active role in the local community; giving us best-in-class examples of how brands were working with their community to co-create a more tailored experience.

MAC Innovation Lab


The Outcome

In October 2020 the MAC Innovation Lab opened its doors in New York City’s Queens Centre. It combines the power of online influencer culture, with cutting edge technology and overlays it with MAC’s knowledge and expertise. The store is unique to its neighborhood so, when MAC opens new locations, each is as unique as the customers that shop there.


The Result

The MAC Innovation Lab is a destination store in the heart of one of New York City’s trendiest neighborhood. The retail experience is crafted around the local community and what is trending in real time. This ensures customers get a unique, tailored and relevant experience every time they visit the store, as it adapts to changing fashions. It delivers everything from virtual make-up suggestions, new product and look drops, customized messaging and in-store samples, all based on timely looks created by local MAC makeup artists.

The store is delivering the ability to adapt to the local community and will present content and looks that speak to the local community.

Philipee Pinatel, Global Brand President of MAC Cosmetics


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