It is the Monday before Black Friday and two reporters hit the road in search of beauty news. The first stop is Wal-Mart to see if elements of the new Project Impact have been integrated into an older unit near Princeton, N.J.
Like many mass retailers, Wal-Mart is working to update its stores. The five-year Project Impact plan calls for adding diagonal aisles in the beauty department, a wood-looking floor and the removal of cumbersome cross-aisle displays. The store here appears to be ripe for retrofitting. Already, the pallet displays in the aisle near beauty have been removed. The visual impact makes this Wal-Mart appear more upscale and more shoppable than with the promotional displays.In the beauty aisles, there is no denying the selection is ample. Surprisingly, even the Monday before Black Friday,there are few holiday decorations. The endcaps, however, are stocked with gift-giving ideas such as color kits.
WWDBeautyNews Grade for this Store’s Beauty Presentation: C+
A football field from this Wal-Mart is Target. Again, Target has done very little at this point to deck the beauty halls. The main holiday push is in an area near the entrance. However, as always, Target is tinkering with new ideas. One notices immediately how little stock there is on pegs. The three Target exclusive lines — Pixi, JK Jemma Kidd and NP Set — are still offered and look good, but not heavily shopped. One of the best presented areas remains the Boots department at Target.
Target appears to be getting out of its tween lines such as Gossip, perhaps to make way for something new. On the shelves are unusual clear plastic, bread-box-shaped cases displaying skin care products, such as Olay Regenerist. The reporters are baffled. Why use so much space on a display that doesn’t generate sales. Further discussion with industry experts reveals these displays may eventually be interactive kiosks where consumers can learn more about the products.
WWDBeautyNews Grade for this Store’s Beauty Presentation: B-
The next stop is Ulta, which is located a few stores away from Target, yet miles away in presentation from both of the discounters. The store screams Christmas. There are special deals on tables throughout the store and a table near the entrance with a “buy five for $5” deal. There is also a Cover Girl buy-one-get-one free promotion. There are holiday lights throughout and a festive ambience. There’s something else the other stores lacked — customers! Ulta’s cash wrap had about five people in line.
Ulta has carefully added more merchandise to the stores, including prestige lines, while also sprinkling the mix with more candles and modestly priced goods. The end result is that there is something for everyone.
WWDBeautyNews Grade for this Store’s Beauty Presentation: A
Twenty minutes away is an older Walgreens store to compare with another Walgreens down the road that hadn’t even officially opened. Walgreens is one of the best at getting a holiday message across. There are trees at the entrance, As Seen On TV holiday ideas at every corner and a display chock full of fragrances. The offer is $10 off some scents such as Drakkar Noir and Acqua Di Gio; $5 off Usher, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as well as others.
The beauty adviser approaches us in a friendly manner. The store is the best and worst of Walgreens all in one. There is a great mix and good service, but a dowdy appearance that is dogging Walgreens as it fights for market share.
About nine miles away is a brand new Walgreens that is undergoing a soft opening phase. It represents many of the chain’s fresh moves. The beauty gondolas are lower and most displays are illuminated. Another nuance that is immediately noticeable versus the older store is improved signage. The store here has a promotional display with designer scents on one side and mass fragrances on the other.
Each department has a color and the decor is more modern and inviting. On a subsequent visit to this store, a consumer introduced herself to the beauty consultant and said, “you’ll see a lot of me.” Imagine that kind of relationship!
WWDBeautyNews Grade for Older Walgreens: C WWDBeautyNews Grade for New Walgreens: B
Two days later it was time for a Rite Aid visit. The store is a remodeled Eckerd that was once a Thrift. What Rite Aid has accomplished is nothing short of a miracle. The store is cleaner, better organized and more fun to shop. The store help greeted shoppers and the pharmacists were efficient. Rite Aid is also very promotional for the holiday period, touting coupons on sets such as $3 off sets priced under $20 and $5 off the higher-ticket single items and sets. This store might not be a consumers’ first choice for holiday shopping, but the selection is perfectly positioned for last minute needs.
A few words with Shawn Haynes, senior vice president, Global Brand Development, Markwins Beauty Products. Haynes was in New York for the launch of the company’s 2010 product lineup.
WWDBeautyNews: What are the highlights of the new items?
Haynes: We did our own editing to focus on productivity and rightness. We deleted 153 items and added 73. We are very excited about the products which fall under three areas: color icon, Mega Last and Mega Mascaras. The products are shipping now to some accounts.
WWDBeautyNews: What is your distribution now and is it growing?
Haynes: Our new items are helping us get new distribution and we’ll be in more than 7,000 doors in North America in 2010
What’s In Store:
NACDS Raises More Than $1.8 Million: The National Association of Chain Drug Stores hosted its Foundation Dinner this week with former first lady Laura Bush delivering the keynote address. The vent raised more than $1.8 million for the foundation which supports the development of pharmacy college faculty at pharmacy colleges.
Dollar Stores The New Discount Stores?: Two major beauty players are said to be developing programs for extreme value stores. And, companies such as Dollar General are on a hot growth track. With shoppers trading down, dollar stores could be the next beauty hot spot.
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