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As British beauty and wellness firm Boots solidifies its foothold in the U.S., it is repackaging and repositioning its entire No7 skin care brand. Come Sept. 1, it will also discontinue a number of No7 products, and add a host of new ones meant for a variety of skin types.
This story first appeared in the August 24, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“As a brand, we strive to grow with our customers and provide them with the best quality skin care formulations to meet their individual needs at an affordable price,” said Steve Lloyd, chief executive officer of Boots North America. “The relaunch of Boots No7 will allow us to deliver products to cater to skin care needs for every stage of a woman’s life.”
For Boots, which celebrates the 77th anniversary of its No7 line this year, one of its goals is making its name as recognizable for American women as it is for their British counterparts.
“This is very much a heritage brand in the U.K.,” said Lloyd. “A lot of women were first introduced to it by their mother or grandmother. [There] it’s probably into the fourth generation.”
Available in all Target doors since 2007 and Ulta since 2011, Boots products can today be found in more than 30 global markets, including Norway, France, Portugal and Spain.
In June, Boots’ parent company, Alliance Boots, entered a “strategic partnership” with Walgreen Co., which acquired a 45 percent stake in the company, with the option of buying the rest of it in three years.
Although its exact distribution plans for the retail pharmacy are not yet defined, it is clear that Boots is focused on gaining critical mass on U.S. shores in terms of American distribution.
According to Lloyd, the upcoming No7 restaging is a natural progression, one that happens approximately every five to seven years. “Every year we’ve seen increasing customer loyalty,” he said.
To that end, according to Boots’ No7 skin care scientific adviser, Mike Bell, the company utilizes its large testing pool of more than 50,000 people to ensure that products work across all ethnicities and skin tones and textures.
“We make sure that the claims we make are real and have been validated,” said Bell. According to Lloyd, there are about 450 stockkeeping units currently available on American soil, but between 3,000 and 5,000 Boots branded products — across health, hair and sun care beauty, baby, dental and medical categories — are in the U.K., sold through 2,500 doors. In the U.S., the brand can be found in approximately 2,200 doors.
“We have a huge range of products in the U.K., which we haven’t actually tapped into yet across all sorts of categories, categories that are very strong [there],” said Lloyd, who named baby and health care as categories with notable potential for the U.S. “All those categories are possible options for growth.”
Boots products were launched internationally in 1996, entering markets like Thailand, the Netherlands and the U.S., where they were originally rolled out to only a handful Target doors.
“They were our first partner,” said Lloyd, of Target, adding that the brand expanded nationally — entering all 1,750 doors — with the retailer in 2007. In 2008, Boots introduced beauty adviser service to select Target stores.
“[This is] unusual in the mass market,” said Lloyd. “We now have beauty advisers in about 360 Target stores and [shoppers] very much value that differentiated option.”
For Lloyd, the beauty adviser model allows the brand message to be conveyed directly to consumers.
In addition to growing its brick-and-mortar presence, Boots is also focusing in its efforts on digital retailing — both on its own e-commerce site, shopbootsusa.com, and on Drugstore.com, which will offer the full collection of No7 products by Sept. 1.
Currently in the U.S., there are four different Boots ranges — No7, nature-based Botanics, sustainably-sourced Extracts and dermatology-tested Expert.
At this time only the No7 line will be restaged. Products like No7 Moisture Quench Day Fluid and Purifying Sauna Mask will be phased out, while new offerings will include a three-piece antiaging regimen for consumers between 45 and 60 years old, called Lift & Luminate. Also being introduced is a comprehensive two-step cleansing and moisturizing range called Beautiful Skin, available in iterations for normal-oily skin, normal-dry and dry-very dry, and suitable for customers of any age. Within the Beautiful Skin range, which is color-coded and promises “more radiant” skin in two weeks, toners were purposefully omitted. “We are now saying you don’t need that step [toning] because the cleanser is so effective,” said Lloyd. “This saves the consumer time and money.”
Other new products within the Beautiful Skin franchise include skin supplements like Beautiful Skin Rapid Spot Rescue and Vitality Eye Roll-On, among others.
In total, 25 No7 sku’s will be dropped, while 27 will be added to the lineup, which is priced from $6.99 for cleansing wipes to $23.99 for a serum.
Boots executives declined to discuss dollar figures, but industry sources estimate that No7 could generate as much as $60 million in retail sales in the 12 months following the September relaunch.