Saturday, 5 November 2011

Counter culture: Clinique take the pain out of counter encounters with shopper wrist bands

I'm seriously impressed with Clinique's new initiative for shopping on-counter. It's a long-overdue update to the typical cosmetics counter model, where sales assistants approach everyone with the same scripted sales pitch.

Instead, shoppers will be able to wear colour-coded wrist bands to send a wordless signal to the sales assistants, telling them whether they're in a rush and need quick service, happy browsing alone, or have time for an in-depth consultation on what they should buy.

Clinique's Service As You Like It "traffic light" system goes like this:

Green: I have time, let's talk
White: Time is of the essence
Pink: Browsing and happy
I love this idea so much - imagine how much better it will be for both sales assistants and shoppers to be able to interact in a way that fits the customer's needs.

Instead of awkwardly fending off a traffic-stopping approach when you really just want to swatch, you'll be able to display your band and carry on molesting the testers in peace, allowing the sales assistant to concentrate on other shoppers.

Instead of sheepishly clearing your throat and trying to make eye contact when you're desperate to make a purchase in a rush, you'll be able to fast-track your lunch-hour splurge by wearing the appropriate band.

And if you are one of the lucky few with both time and money to spare, you'll be able to proudly display your "I have time, let's talk" band and enjoy a leisurely discussion on what sort of primer or mascara you should choose with an assistant who will, hopefully, be more happy and relaxed as a result of the new system.

Counters designed just for swatchers
The wrist band initiative will be accompanied by some changes to the counters themselves, also geared to the way real people shop. There'll be hands-on "play and pay" areas, dedicated to the swatchers amongst us, guided self-service and edited best-seller displays for the time poor, along with a 90-second computer-based skin analysis, complete with a print-out recommendation list to take away with you.

I can't wait to see how this works out. I'm optimistic, although I can't help thinking they will have trouble keeping the pink ones in stock. The wrist bands are on counter now at Selfridges Oxford Street, House of Fraser Meadowhall, House of Fraser Glasgow, Debenhams Leeds and Fenwick Newcastle.

What do you think? Is this a good system, or would you rather see things done differently?


  1. As someone who likes to browse without being hassled by irritating sales obsessed assistants, I think that this is an absolutely brilliant idea, and hope that it proves to be a success so that other brands might feel inspired to follow suit ;)

  2. What a fantastic idea - I really dislike being disturbed by pushy sales assistants, so anything that stops that goes straight into my good books! Will be interesting to see how successful this is.

  3. If it works then its a fantastic idea. I HATE being harassed by annoying sales assistants!

  4. This is a brilliant idea, I always have the same problem no help or too much and I go to the Clinique counter a lot. Love it!


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