NEW YORK — The line between the prestige and mass beauty markets continues to blur, as drugstores build up their sales staffs and department stores offer more self-service.
Still, major differences between the classes of trade, in particular pricing, remain intact. Which of these points of difference are influencing women in their shopping decisions?
WWD sent reporters to Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas to find out where typical consumers shop for beauty products and why they choose these outlets.
Anne McIntyre, 32, a writer, said she shops at Rexall Drugs and beauty supply stores for sunscreen and Almay moisturizer and at department stores for Chanel lipstick and eye shadow and Clarins and Clinique skin care products.
“Drugstores are easier,” McIntyre said. “I would go there more if the selection was higher-end. I don’t care about service. It’s a hassle. Plus, because they have to pay salespeople, department stores have to jack up their prices.
Michelle Piper, a 26-year-old who coordinates lighting and trucking for a concert-tour firm, said she buys L’Oreal and Cover Girl lipstick and eye shadow at Thrifty Drugs because “it’s much cheaper.”
Jolynn Lacasse, 31, an office manager, has never bought cosmetics from a department store, shopping instead at Rexall for Revlon mascara and lipstick and for Oil of Olay.
“The selection at drugstores is adequate,” Lacasse said. “I’m never in a department store, anyway.”
Cathy Schenkelberg, 32, an actress and singer, goes mainly to health food stores for natural lotions and bath salts, buys Botanicals hair and nail care products from beauty salons and gets her lipstick from the MAC store.
“I make better money now so I’m spoiling myself,” Schenkelberg said. “I don’t go to Walgreens anymore. That’s what I did in college.”
June Anwar, a 23-year-old art director, goes to Rexall and Walgreens for Revlon mascara, lip pencils and “junk,” but buys Shiseido and Lancome moisturizer, foundation and lipstick from department stores.
“I change brands all the time,” Anwar said. “I prefer department store brands. Otherwise, I would shop drugstores because I like to be left alone.”
Ava King, 30, a composer, buys toiletries at drugstores. She shops at Neiman Marcus for Clarins moisturizer and sunscreen and goes to the MAC store for lipstick and eye shadow.
Dana Julian, a stylist, shops at drugstores, including Thrifty and Rexall, for Maybelline brow liner, liquid eyeliner and Oil of Olay. For Lancome mascara and MAC lipstick, though, she goes to department stores.
“I go to department stores for their products, but I would rather not spend so much money,” Julian said. “I feel as if I’m always being oversold. I don’t like salespeople to tell me I have bad skin. Thanks a lot. I already know that.”
Regana Red, 32, a salesperson, buys Maybelline eye pencils and makeup sponges at drugstores. She heads to stores in Chinatown for moisturizers that contain Chinese herbs. Red said she never buys makeup because friends who are makeup artists give her MAC products.
“For blacks, the color selection at drugstores is not very good,” she said.
Rene Castleman, 32, a schoolteacher, said, “I buy my cosmetics from drugstores because I find the same brands much cheaper. I mostly wear Maybelline. I really like their blue long-wearing mascara.”
Sarah Connoly, 27, a student, said, “I buy cosmetics from health food stores like Healthworks, because I only use all natural brands that haven’t been tested on animals, like Rachel Perry. I sometimes buy Clinique from Marshall Field’s, but I never buy from drugstores.”
Risa Leeds, in her 30s, a management consultant, said, “I buy skin treatment at drugstores and color at department stores. The ingredients in skin care products at drugstores are the same as you get in department stores, but department stores have better specific colors. If I can get department store brands at off-price stores, I will. I use Prescriptives, Ultima II, Noxzema and Basis. I love Lipsexxxy [lipstick] because it stays on and comes in great colors.”
Margaret Babicz, 24, a student, said, “I shop in department stores because they carry the brand I like — Lancome.”
Heidi Hopewell, 30, a financial analyst, said, “I usually shop at department stores like Field’s. I guess they do a good job marketing, and they carry the brands I buy — Lancome, Clinique, Elizabeth Arden. If I happened to see something I liked, like foundation or a lipstick, in a store like Cosmetic Center, I would buy it.”
Joanne Keefe, 52, a secretary, said, “I buy from both department stores and drugstores. If I hear of a special gift-with-purchase, I go to a department store. If I just need one little thing, I go to a drugstore. The prices are better and you get a good selection at a large drugstore. I buy Clinique, Estee Lauder and whatever Walgreens has.”
Barbara Burchjolla, 43, a government employee, said, “I only shop at Marshall Field’s because I normally wear Shiseido and you can’t get it anywhere else. I also love Calvin Klein. Drugstores don’t carry what I like.”
Eileen Cabela, 20, a student, said, “I go to a department store because the quality is better. I buy Chanel and Estee Lauder. If I’m on a budget, I might buy a moisturizer or eye-makeup remover in a drugstore.”
Ricki Williams, 41, an office manager, said, “I mainly buy cosmetics at a department store, because the brand I buy — Shiseido — is only sold at Marshall Field’s. I buy shampoos and toiletries at the drugstore.”
Diane Reichelt, 50, an artist, said, “I buy at department stores because I only buy Clinique because I have allergies. I would also buy it at an off-price store.”
Sonja Hunter, 28, a customer service representative, said, “I buy Fashion Fair from Carson’s and go to Walgreens for mascaras, lipsticks and whatever’s on sale. They have Artmatic lipstick at two for $1.”
Denise McElroy, 26, a Clinique consultant, said, “I buy Clinique from Carson’s because I work for them. I’m allergic to everything else. I haven’t shopped for cosmetics in the drugstore since I was in eighth grade.”
Linda Tharpe, 41, a travel agency owner, said, “I’m hooked on using things from Clinique and Elizabeth Arden, so I shop at department stores. I don’t know if drugstores have any good stuff because I never try them. They just don’t offer what I want. I think they are just a different market, so I don’t see anything that they need to change.”
Kathy Cavender, 34, a sales manager, said, “I shop them both; it depends on what I am looking for. I buy things like mascara at drugstores, but foundation I’d only buy at a department store. I like Estee Lauder. I’d like it if drug stores carried more of the upscale lines that department stores carry.”
Rosa Garcia, 32, a director of sales, said, “I buy Clinique, so I shop at department stores. I like the products and it’s very convenient. I think drugstores need to improve the quality of their products. It also doesn’t seem like the prices of drugstore cosmetics are all that cheap, either.”
Peggy Faircloth, a homemaker, said, “I buy my beauty products at the beauty salon because I like the line. I’d shop at drugstores if they carried better lines.”
Libby Hannon, with her daughter Kate, said, “We buy color cosmetics at the department stores and things like soap and moisturizer at drugstores because of the prices. Drugstores don’t have people who know about the products, and they also don’t offer samples like department stores do.”
Sheri Clark, 25, a chef, said, “I buy everything at Drug Emporium simply because it’s cheap. I wish they offered better quality products, though.”
Shelby Dungee, 21, a student, said, “I buy everything at the beauty salon just because of convenience. It doesn’t even cross my mind when I’m in a drugstore or a department store. I think drugstores need to improve on the brands they carry.”
Margo Villanueva, 23, a student, said, “I buy all my treatment products through Mary Kay because I trust them more than I do drugstore products. I buy things like lipstick, blush, mascara and eyeliner at the drugstore. The beauty supplies in drugstores don’t seem real to me. They all seem perfumed and sweet-smelling. I just don’t get the idea that they will work.”
Phyllis Burnette, a homemaker, said, “I shop them both. I buy my cleansing products from Estee Lauder and Clinique because I don’t mind spending more money on those products. I’m not into the pricy labels for things like eye color and lipstick. I think drugstores are too cluttered; they need more organization.”
Kay Ingram, a secretary at Saks Fifth Avenue, said, “I buy soap and Oil of Olay cleansing items at drugstores. I buy makeup and moisturizers from Adrien Arpel at Saks. Since I get a discount, it is more economical, and I like the products. I don’t think drugstores need to do anything different. I don’t mind buying lower-end products at all. They’re fine.”
Kathy Eastman, a travel agent, said, “I buy everything at department stores. I don’t like drugstores because you can’t really test or sample anything.”
Jan Walner, a showroom sales associate, said, “Drugstores are my primary destination for beauty items. I’m old enough to know what works, so I’m not into experimenting. I stick with basics like olive oil, Pond’s cleansing cream, Maybelline Great Lash and Vaseline.
“I still like Lancome’s foundations, though, and I buy them at a department store. Lancome also gives great gifts. It’s kind of intimidating to shop beauty counters at department stores — the advisers start pointing out all the flaws, and I feel older when I leave.”
Suzanne Jentsch, a showroom sales associate, said, “Unless I’m in a big hurry and running low on a product, I still prefer department stores. I like the service and the assortment of products. Clinique is my primary source for both skin care and color. A big drawback to drugstores is the inability to test a product. You have to look at it through plastic and decide if its a good color, or open it and then feel bad about putting it back.”
Judy Marlowe, a marketing assistant, said, “It’s pretty evenly divided as to where I purchase beauty products. I like drugstores for lipsticks and eyeshadows or things I’ve seen in ads. They’re great for trying new products when you don’t want to spend much money.
“I go to department stores for Borghese and Sisley skin care because they’re not available at mass outlets for the most part.”
Alisa Sydenham, a freelance stylist, said, “I don’t wear a lot of makeup and my skin care regime is very simple. I like Lancome, though, and I buy it at department stores. I would shop drugstores if they carried Lancome and offered it at a better price. I use lots of Lubriderm and I purchase it at drugstores.
“While I was in a drugstore, I decided to try Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara to compare to my current one. I’m still deciding.”
Theresa Kelly, a customer service representative, said, “My time is very limited and I have to plan my stops. Going to a drugstore to purchase cosmetics just isn’t feasible — it would be just one more destination. I spend a lot of time in malls, so I buy my color and treatment at department stores. I like Clinique’s treatment and I buy it there. When I’m at the grocery store I buy Lubriderm lotion.”
Beverly Hairston, an apparel vendor, said, “Drugstores would be tempting if they offered facials, makeovers and beauty advisers. Because they don’t, though, I buy Clarins color at department stores. My skin care line is called Yonka and Essensa. It’s from France, and I purchase it from my facialist.”
Kate Wagner, a models’ agent, said, “I love drugstores, and I buy the majority of my color products there, usually Revlon. The price has a lot to do with it. Plus I know what I want and don’t really need all the service that’s offered at a department store. Of course, the lack of sampling is a hindrance, but you wind up paying for that at department stores. I do shop department stores for treatment products that I can’t find at drugstores — mainly Prescriptives and Clinique.”
Anne Kent, a models’ agent, said, “Drugstore displays aren’t too inviting and the lighting is pretty severe. Also, products sell really quickly at drugstores and are often sold out if they’ve been promoted in a magazine. Nonetheless, I’ll shop drugstores if I want to test something by Cover Girl or Maybelline. I buy Lancome and Chanel color products at department stores.”
Katelin Burton, a models’ agent, said, “I like L’Oreal’s foundation, and I buy it at drugstores. Foundations seem to be pretty much the same, so why spend more? Otherwise, I buy Chanel’s color line at department stores and Poppy lipstick in Australia, where I’m from. Drugstores have drawbacks, though, like not having beauty advisers and samples. Plus they don’t do makeovers.”