By  on April 22, 1994

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.

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