So how many Shoppers Optimum points do you get for buying a $1,060 bottle of eye cream? Now consumers can find out. Shoppers Drug Mart has just launched an upscale new chain called Murale that will not only offer exclusive cosmetics, such as pricey $1,000 lotions from Natura Bissé, but will pamper customers with a luxury in-store spa.
Murale launched with a 7,000-sq.-foot store in Ottawa in November, and last month it opened a 8,200-sq.-foot location in Montreal. Both feature pristine white interiors, curved walls and boutique-like displays. In addition to luxury brands and niche products, Murale employs “beauty masters” with at least three years of “artistry” experience. The stores also house a spa where shoppers can undergo everything from antioxidant treatments to cellulite removal to facials. The philosophy, says spokesperson Tammy Smitham, is that “a customer’s basket size increases following a treatment.”
The plan for Murale was hatched over a year ago, when analysis showed an untapped market for exclusive cosmetics. “We truly felt that there was a void in the Canadian marketplace,” says Smitham. But just how successful the venture will be in the throes of a nasty recession remains to be seen.
Hard numbers won’t be available until the company reports its earnings in mid-February, but with five to seven more locations planned for 2009, Smitham insists “performance in both Ottawa and Montreal has exceeded our expectations.” Indeed, according to Rotman School of Management professor David Dunne, the desire to indulge in small luxuries in tough times actually makes cosmetics relatively recession-proof. That said, the financial collapse touched “many people at the higher end of the economic spectrum,” says Dunne. “It’s not a slam dunk by any means.”