Americans enlisted in the Army and Air Force and their families don’t have to wait for a leave to sample the latest from Estée Lauder or L’Oréal. Instead, they can pop into the AAFES (Army Air Forces Exchange Service) store on base and find virtually everything typically found at department stores, drugstores and food stores under one roof.
What’s unique about AAFES stores is that since they don’t compete directly with prestige outlets, many premium brands have opened up distribution to their doors.
On the high end, AAFES stocks Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancôme and Elizabeth Arden. Beauty advisers are on hand to help shoppers with the prestige lines. To offer a variety of price points, however, the stores also offer mass brands including Cover Girl, Revlon, Almay, L’Oréal and Maybelline. AAFES is also testing Avon in two stores. And, the company is staying in tune with hair-care trends by adding four feet of salon brands to its health and beauty care department.
AAFES, based in Dallas, currently operates 105 stores in the continental U.S. and 51 sites overseas, producing retail sales exceeding $7 billion. There is a worldwide customer base of more than seven million, including two million people in active duty, their families and more than three million retirees.
With an increase in the nation’s military efforts, the stores are also busier, with overall sales through June up 4 percent over the same period last year. The beauty business expanded about 1 percent, according to Fred Bluhm, AAFES spokesman.
Beauty is important business at AAFES. Internal studies have shown customers spend more than 34 percent of their available beauty income with AAFES. AAFES is aiming to move that percentage even higher, said Louise Reza, the category manager team manager for jewelry fragrance and cosmetics..
Since AAFES customers are frequently in a hurry, the store favors a "concept" approach to merchandising that presents beauty as a store within a store. Two years ago, AAFES first tested a concept store where fragrances and cosmetics were merged in an area near jewelry. Reza said the concept encouraged shoppers to browse as long as they wished or simply drop in for a quick need. Sales in the initial test rose 10 percent, and the concept has been rolled out.The concept design has actually allowed AAFES to condense the space it needs for beauty while allowing the company to make a brand and price statement. The size of the department ranges from 1,200 to 4,300 square feet. AAFES is working on a universal fixture to showcase its prestige products. The departments are upscale and carpeted — more reminiscent of a department store than a mass market outlet.
Another major department for AAFES is bath and body. Again, a destination concept department was created in 2000 that helped the company achieve bath and home fragrance sales exceeding $19 million that year, a 36 percent increase over 1999. In January, AAFES introduced a private-label bath and body line called Cherish The Feeling.
Like many merchants, AAFES also looks for new items to differentiate its assortment. Although there aren’t competitors on bases, AAFES must compete against Wal-Mart, department stores and specialty stores.
Teenagers have become a hot market segment for AAFES, and a new budget private-label beauty brand will be launched this fall to tap that market, as well as women looking for value pricing. The line will be called Cherish The Look and include lip gloss, mascaras, eye shadows and makeup kits. At the other end of the spectrum, Reza said she’s excited about a skin care product to serve aging baby boomers.
AAFES stores also sell everything from tools to jewelry, including many brand names such as Adidas.
AAFES stores make a huge difference for people in the service. "That’s our big night out on the town...going to AAFES," said Doug Holzbauer. "You really can get everything you need without having to fight crowds."
Assouline is paying homage to the late Azzedine Alaïa with a reprint of "Alaïa Livre de Collection.” The book is comprised of photographs of the designer's summer 1992 runway show with models Christy Turlington Burns, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, pictured here at right. #wwdfashion #alaia #tyrabanks
Fall 2018 accessories take on a painterly hue, with Nebulas Blue among Pantone’s top 10 colors of the season. (📸: @jonghyupstudio ; editor: @twallz21 ; stylist and set designer: @haideefindlaylevin ) #wwdaccessories
@americanapparelusa is relaunching the brand outside of the U.S. today, opening its online store to more than 200 countries. The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, though details have not been confirmed. In tandem with the expanded distribution is a recasting of a social media ad campagn, called “Back to Basics,” pictured here, with a focus on diversity and a cast of models above the age of 21. Read more on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Exclusive: @britneyspears is continuing to expand her brand. The pop icon, who appears in @kenzo ’s latest campaign, is partnering with Epic Rights to launch a line of branded merchandise. Read @hernameislex ‘s story, link in bio. #wwdnews #britneyspears
The Duchess of Cambridge channeled Princess Diana’s look upon giving birth to Prince Harry, when she and the Duke of Cambridge departed the hospital with the new baby Prince this afternoon in London. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
The new Prince of Cambridge has arrived! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed with the 8-pound newborn. She wore a look from one of her go-to designers, @jennypackham. Tap link in bio for more. #wwdeye #princeofcambridge
Jewelry label @alisonlou has made a name for itself with fine jewelry that speaks to the Millennial market. Now @twallz21 reports that the label is bringing those playful ideas to a new affordable line of lucite hoops with the launch of Loucite by Alison Lou. Here’s a look from the line modeled by @emrata. #wwdaccessories
@sarahjessicaparker and @gilt are teaming up on a bridal ready-to-wear line. Tomorrow, Parker will launch SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker Bridal — and as part of the launch, Gilt will offer 15 exclusive styles from the SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker footwear collection that were designed to complement the new line. Made out of 10 styles, the line is designed for a variety of occasions, from bridal showers to receptions. Get more details on WWD.com #wwdfashion