When you think glamour and cosmetics, what comes to mind? Paris? An upscale department or specialty store?
How about the bowels of the NYC subway system?
I once worked for a drug-store publication with an all-male writing staff, and became beauty editor by default. The guys called me "beauty boy," but hey, I was meeting models and chatting up Halle Berry while my co-workers attended foot care- and lice-product events, so let them smirk.
If I still toiled there, I would've been summoned last week to L'Oreal Paris' "Intelligent Color Experience" launch at the Bryant Park-Fifth Avenue subway station on the 7 line.
There, I would've found the interactive cosmetics vending machine. It features a full-length mirror, selects what matches or clashes with your outfit and recommends lip, nail and eye products that you buy on the spot. And it's not just about makeup, said a L'Oreal spokesman, but about offering an "amazing, high-tech experience" (beauty companies love superlatives). The venture is on a test run through the end of the year.
"The MTA will be watching this program carefully to see if it can be replicated and scaled up," said Jeffrey Rosen, MTA director of real estate. The MTA needs all the money it can get, and if cosmetics vending machines help keep down the fares, I'm all for them.
So if this venture is expanded, what other types of products should be hawked at subway stations? I asked one thirtyish blond checking herself out at the new L'Oreal kiosk (her perfect lipstick match was "radiant plum") for her opinion.
"Purell," she instantly replied. Can't argue with that.
This brought to mind other products that would be perfect fits. Ever enter a subway car and encounter a stench so vile you hold your breath for the entire trip? How about offering air fresheners? Perhaps nose plugs?
There are other possibilities that also would be appreciated by riders. Ever get stuck in a downpour and couldn't leave the subway station? Umbrella vending machines would solve that. And how about men? A StubHub booth offering sports tickets could be lucrative.
Back at the kiosk, I discovered my complementary lipstick is "ruby flame." Probably matched the tomato-sauce stain on my shirt.