For the first time, Chinese shoppers buy more frequently on mobile than they do in traditional stores. In fact, 24% of consumers now say they shop less often at physical stores as a direct result of Tmall, China’s online retail giant.

That leaves traditional retailers in China asking themselves the same question: What’s the role of physical stores today?

MAC Cosmetics has been a traditional retailer in China for over a decade, and they found great success through their highly successful eCommerce launch on Tmall. Taking a cue from these learnings and insights, MAC proceeded into Phase 2 of their new retail revolution.


In the age of Gen Z consumers and increased competition from influencer-driven, digitally native brands, it was time to rethink the entire physical customer experience. The new retail must combine online interactions, data insights and precision targeting with traditional retail experiences.

MAC’s new forward-thinking flagship store integrates both the online and offline brand experience into one customer journey, blending product discovery, social engagement and purchase into an immersive brand universe.

Segmenting footfall traffic into different need states depending on the consumer’s past interactions with the brand, MAC created specific consumer journeys that delivered not just the best experience, but optimal conversion as well.


The result of six months of development, we began with a deep dive into shopper behaviour using cognitive walkthroughs, exit interviews and customer focus groups to understand how Gen Z buys makeup in store.

Utilizing intensive development of CX, interaction design and technical innovation, our in-store touch screens and mobile interfaces created highly interactive engagement between digital devices and physical products that eliminated purchase barriers and pain points. These were tailored to three key product categories for MAC: Lipstick, Eye Shadow and Foundation.

The entire MAC store experience is seamlessly integrated between physical and digital via WeChat. Upon entry, digital totems greet you and invite you to scan for a WeChat check in, instantly displaying a personalized greeting. This is just the start of an integrated online-to-offline experience where the MAC WeChat mini-program becomes your passport to everything the brand has to offer, from gesture-initiated AR interactive device engagement and product personalization to social content from Little Red Book.

Because Gen Z consumers dislike being pestered by sales staff, the entire store experience is almost entirely self-served, from discovery, engagement and validation to purchase and payment via their WeChat wallet.

And because every in-store engagement is digital, every consumer action becomes part of their data signature, allowing MAC to accurately drive them to the next experience, raising effectiveness and cross-sell opportunities. The digital integration also allows the brand to leverage TenCent’s smart retail system, targeting high propensity lookalike consumers in the vicinity of the store, driving footfall traffic, and retargeting consumers post-visit to repurchase via the WeChat mini-app, effectively taking the “e” out of eCommerce.

Another key part of this revolutionary social commerce business model is the second floor of the MAC store. Furnished as a makeup bar with professional makeup artists, it became an open source platform for influencers to come in and freely create their own events and content, all powered by MAC. This professional user-generated content is then added to the store experience as content for future consumers.


Revolutionizing both the way MAC Cosmetics operated retail stores and how consumers purchase makeup in store, the new retail pilot store created a social storm, driving massive hype without any media spend. MAC is now ready for expansion across APAC.

MAC NEW RETAIL Feel the Color

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2019 China ROI Award

2019 China ROI Award

New Retail