Cosmetics in a self-serve context:
POP display makes shopping for makeup convenient
Inspiration, tips and tricks


Manufacturers, and retailers, want to present their offer as cleanly and orderly as possible. But the makeup items are divers, small, irregularly shaped with atypical packaging; the risk that something goes wrong in a selfserve scenario cannot be underestimated. Retail displays are an important part of the beauty industry. What’s the recipe for the most glamourous of all display materials.

1 900 words
10 minutes



In ICI PARIS XL’s play corner sales associates are like best friends, searching together for the products that will make you even more beautiful. It doesn’t even feel like a sale.

Shopping for makeup and cosmetics is one of the most intimate, yet sophisticated, buying experiences. You can get them in a variety of settings: self-service supermarkets or hypermarkets, jammed-with-stuff drugstores and pharmacies, chic department stores, specialty beauty chains or glamorous experience stores, where visitors can play first before moving on from salesperson to makeup artists.

The category includes items that improve the appearance and health of face, eyes, lips, and nails. They include lipstick, foundation, blush, mascara, eyeshadow, eyeliner, nail polish and complimentary products for everyday, medical, or glam purposes.

At the point of sale, brands are always looking for effective ways to stand out, arouse curiosity, enhance their reputation, showcase their products, build consumer loyalty and sell more.

The items are divers, small, often irregularly shaped, with atypical packaging; the risk that something goes wrong in a self-serve, or open-sell, scenario cannot be underestimated. And the more choices we have, the more freedom we have, the happier we get, right? What if it doesn't? Overwhelmed by choice the shopper can quickly reduce to zero her willingness to spend her valuable time exploring an offer. If it takes too long to find what she's after, she may give up, leave frustrated and buy nothing. This is especially true for the omnichannel consumer who is used to fast browsing in online shops and values time highly.

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“During a typical shopping trip, shoppers visit only a fraction of a store’s departments and categories, examine a small subset of the available products, and, in some cases, make selections in just a few seconds“, Identifying the Drivers of Shopper Attention, Engagement, and Purchase - Raymond R. Burke and Alex Leykin (source)
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Central double-sided makeup gondola for Yves Rocher ©Pilotes


Manufacturers, and retailers, want to present their offer as cleanly and orderly as possible — also during a Saturday afternoons. Dreaming of that little extra glamour, buyers don't object to that. Always in a hurry, they want to navigate the assortments within seconds, pick up, manipulate, and scrutinize the products, find what they're looking for and be on their way as quickly as possible. Shoppers seeking experiential play with products are not always a clean and orderly impulse. This is the high-pressure school of makeup selling.

Well-designed hands-on product displays, such makeup fixtures, play an important role to present and stock the merchandising in a self-service no-pressure environment. Clear, bold and direct — so that shoppers can immediately spot the brand, each manufacturer develops a proprietary layout to optimally showcase its range, and even to try them under the most favourable conditions.

The makeup fixture has become a great big three-dimensional advertisement for itself. Design, space management, shelf organization, signage, imagery and graphic assets, all make it more likely that shoppers can grasp, and want to grasp, every item on display, can examine comfortably and easily the merchandise, to finally shop from the brand.

What’s the recipe for an effective makeup fixture? Since many years we have been appointed by manufacturers and retailers to create, develop, and make cosmetics fixtures. We are happy to share some key-takeaways for the most glamourous display solution, but let’s start academical first and define the makeup fixture.

Before you move on


Central double-sided makeup gondola for Yves Rocher ©Pilotes

For 25 years, we have combined imagination and industrial know-how to help brands and retail present products. Always looking for the latest trends, we offer relevant and sustainable display design solutions, multi-material in a combination of wood, metal, plastic, etc. We study the retail context and the brand's challenges, considering technical, aesthetic and budgetary conditions for 100% customised, durable materials.

The makeup fixture: a definition

The makeup fixture is an exceptional type of display. To lure shoppers, any cosmetics brand that sells through physical retail spaces makes use of display. In this category the role of merchandising has always been great. It’s usually the merchandising specialists that develop and implement the display solutions. They make sure that they withstand intensive use on the busy floors of shops over the expected lifetime.


Two types of cosmetics fixtures for Léa Nature, a free-standing floorstand and a shelf-on-shelf module ©Pilotes


In most cases a consumer has been made aware of an advertising message broadcasted through of-store media. Once in the store, the makeup fixture takes over: the presence of the material stimulates relevant memory structures and seduces shoppers towards the location of the product, consciously or not. This advertising tool stocked with merchandise activates the offer in the physical environment by making it more visible, accessible, reachable.

In the beauty sector, great attention and energy are devoted to the development of the most appropriate material. The key to an effective device? 100% customisation, because the solutions are multiple; there are many supports and fixtures, many variants of POP materials.

The point-of-purchase materials can be free-standing — or stand-alone; they exist separate from the fixed store installations, which allows for attention-grabbing shapes, bright graphics, vibrant colours, smiling faces, and, above all, a flawless interaction with the merchandise being presented and stocked.

Sometimes the fixed store shelving can be adapted to the specifics of the merchandise. Instead of investing in standard or monotonous shelving, makeup brands can develop tailor-made designs that allow for a more dynamic presentation and a memorable visual experience.

If replacing store fixtures is not an option, a shelf-on-shelf display module offers the solution for makeup brands to permanently host their assortement in the aisles.

1. Organize the battleground


This shelf for Le French Make-up is made of metal with interchangeable visuals. It is also equipped with led-lighting and storage. Le French Make-up has been successfully launched out in supermarkets and hypermarkets with three types of shelfs: 650 and 950 mm wide, and a power wing. ©Pilotes

In retail, everything is a battleground. The competitive makeup category is no exception. Brands are looking for ways to distinguish where it counts, on the floor of the store.

Uninteresting, unclear, inconvenient, or messy product presentations are overlooked. They require more effort and reduce buying intention. Shelf organization, together with signage, informative or educational messages — without overloading, please, bring in a relaxed, pleasant, no-pressure experience for shoppers, and sales promotion. Customers understand the offer and they are able to make informed decisions. And as they experience a sense of expertise and quality, they will be motivated to build a closer relationship with the brand on display.

Remember that all commercial messaging should be direct, quick and consistent. The browsing shopper always focuses on the physical product. He doesn’t want to make an effort to understand and remember your message. Telling too much is probably the biggest slip up, the shopper is already gone before the end of the story. One messaging too many and you've created a black hole where no communication manages to get through.

2. Measure in millimetres


End-cap for Sephora's private label Formula X for nail polish ©Pilotes

While the number of brands and articles is constantly increasing, physical retail remains limited in space. Moreover, product visibility is not assured. Slightly above eye level to about knee height, top-selling items are within quick grasp of shoppers. Much above or below shoppers may not see the products, unless they happen to be looking intently.

Retailers, and their instore materials, that make inefficient use of space will not last. When the luxury of space is lacking, sales per square millimetre is one of the most important indicators of the success of presentations. Typically, makeup displays host a diverse range of types and colours. So plan your display carefully with a planogram. It lays a solid foundation for your investment.

3. Testing leads to buying


Makeup bar for the brand Dr. Pierre Ricaud ©Pilotes

Successful brands know that testing cosmetics leads to buying, and so they encourage it by making it possible, which is understandable considering how expensive makeup is and how it differs in appearance depending on skin.

Remember that everything must be super user-friendly, with testers and mirrors placed on the most prominent spots. Before shoppers are willing to put your product on their face or hands, everything has to be secure and extremely well maintained.

Also, the fixture should be build considering that shoppers need simple amenities like tissues, for instance, which improve the overall neatness the presentation.

4. Differentiate your brand with materials


Tester for the brand Dr. Pierre Ricaud ©Pilotes

Having a rich brand has become crucial for makeup manufacturers to differentiate themselves. Composed of primary and secondary elements, such as logo, design language, graphic assets, colours and materials, smiling models; brands define the target audience.

To reflect the premium character of the range being presented, the cosmetics display should source from the brand's DNA and story. The materials used to build the fixture are crucial; noble and quality materials can capture the mood and image of the individual brand being presented.

Though there are many options for accents and differentiation, shiny black and white acrylic, or PMMA, has been so successful that it has almost become the standard for the cosmetics sector, where mirrors are crucial sales tools.

If acrylic isn’t exactly in line with your brand image, consider using lighter shades of natural wood. This will give your products an earthy, all-natural appearance.

5. Consider modular and evolutionary design


Floorstand for Sephora's Hot Now Collection ©Pilotes

The makeup industry is constantly evolving. What’s hot this season, is out next. Trends come in straight from fashion runways, influencers, Insta or TikTok. R&D and marketing departments are fighting tooth and nail to get the innovations in stores before competition does.

The needs of the person shopping during a lunch break trip to restock on a favourite item are much different from the shopper coming in on an extended weekend trip to experiment and get new Saturday-night-out cosmetics ideas.

To satisfy the later, to be able to bring in exiting new types, styles, colours and innovations, any make-up display should be adaptive and evolutionary. The most successful brands use modular design together with solid proprietary palettes or trays, made from mold acryle; they can be quickly replaced as the assortment evolves.

CASE: Reinventing the makeup departement for a supermarket chain

How to reinvent and revitalize an entire makeup departement?

Here’s an example for the range at Système-U super and hypermarkets. Our team developed a boutique experience in a very feminine self-serve setting.

  • display for naked products, without blister packaging, and open shelves allow shoppers to easily pick products up and help themselves
  • hot-now discovery zones for new cosmetics ideas and inspiration
  • the shelving is made of multiple materials, including wood for a warm and comfortable image,
  • vibrant colours and led-light add vitality without shouting,
  • a bright, visually appealing atmosphere seducing shoppers to engage the category,
  • shopper ergonomic,
  • adaptation to existing shelving,
  • equipped with a generous storage capacity,
  • and fully modular for evolutionary merchandising and segmentation ...

By making this department a destination store for beauty addicts, it is a powerful weapon to differentiate itself from competing points of sale. The new presentation strategy has garnered double-digit growth in sales.







Retail displays are an important selling aid for the beauty industry. We hope that with these few tips your displays are effectively turning prospects into loyal customers. Reach out today to set up a free consultation. We'll find the best solution for your brand.

Date: April 2022

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