NEW YORK -- Drugstore cosmetics departments are becoming tougher in editing their lines these days in order to focus upon what the consumer is truly looking for at retail, according to area merchants.
Newness, the retailers said, is the driving force behind their selections, and the popular categories vary from store to store, although many cited fragrances and treatment products as continuing to be the hottest categories.
"We've definitely gotten tougher with our editing," said Naomi Germano, cosmetics buyer for Harmon Drugs in Cedar Grove, N.J. "The economy has been tough. Our space hasn't changed, so we've altered the product assortments to meet the most important trends.
"Turns in profit is our most important concern," she continued. "The cosmetics counter is not simply there to lure a woman into the store. It has to offer what she wants to buy."
Newness and competitive price points are two of Germano's priorities when it comes to stocking her department, she said. Skin care is a very hot area, she noted, especially alpha-hydroxy acid-based products.
"Not every consumer understands the exact benefits of the alpha-hydroxy cleansers and moisturizers, except that they help women to stay younger looking," she added.
The top seller in the category, she said, is Rachael Perry's cleanser, with AHA's, called Tangerine Dream. The item retails for $10.50.
Generally, all of the store's PlÄnitude products, she said, do extremely well at retail. The upcoming introduction of the line's alpha-hydroxy-based Excell A3 product "will go crazy at retail," she predicted.
Although Germano said that business has improved since the winter weather has passed, she declined to specify exact increases.
At Zitomer's, the upscale pharmacy on Madison Avenue, owner Sharon Sternheim said she is careful about selecting cosmetics for the store.
"I go by my gut feeling about a product," she said. "I try to have an open mind and listen to what the manufacturers say are the hottest trends.
"I stock a significant amount of products offered by Chanel, Estee Lauder, Clarins and Clinique," she added.
Cosmetics, she added, have always been a good profit center for the store because they are never discounted.In the past four to six weeks, Sternheim said, customers have been coming into the store requesting thigh creams. Fragrance, she said, is another hot category, especially a line called Comptoir Sud Pacifique.
"People like the idea of all-natural products," she said. Sternheim added that the hottest single-note scents are vanilla and grapefruit.
Among treatment bestsellers, she listed Chanel's Lift Serum and tinted moisturizers from Chanel, Lauder and Clarins.
Sternheim said that business has been excellent because of the store's increased advertising over the past year, as well as coverage by major fashion publications and newspapers. More window displays featuring cosmetics have also boosted business, she added.
Aside from cosmetics, the 12,000-square-foot store carries products ranging from electronics to lingerie, said Sternheim, giving the consumer further incentive to shop for all of her needs in one place. About 3,000 square feet of the store are devoted to cosmetics.
New fragrances receive a great deal of attention from consumers at Genovese stores, said Stephanie Hayter, cosmetics merchandise manager.
"We always try to make room for the faster-moving items," said Hayter, noting that consumers seem to be looking for the newest arrivals at the counter.
Business in general, she said, has been good, although she declined to give details. The cosmetics area gives a boost to the store's overall business, she said, and new incentives have been implemented to draw the consumer into the department.
One factor which has been causing excitement at retail, she said, is a discount program the store began about a year ago featuring various savings on cosmetics offerings. Gift-with-purchase promotions are another important sales incentive that the store is planning to expand in the next few months.
For Mother's Day, a crystal pendant necklace is being offered with every $15 purchase in the cosmetics department.
Another hot trend at the store is nail care, including a nail polish brand called Kiss Nails.
Lipsticks are another important category, especially the California salon brand Lisee, which carries aromatherapy benefits. The lipsticks are lower-priced than Revlon lipsticks, Hayter said, and the customer likes the idea of aromatherapy, especially the scent and feel of the menthol-based products."Aromatherapy is a new area in the business, and the consumer is catching on," she said. "We need to encourage her to learn more about the benefits of the products."
Another area of expansion is with bath product packets, in particular brands such as Cabot's, she said. Priced at $1, she noted, they are a quick and easy buy for a customer that wants to try a new brand.
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