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Beauty Boundaries Get Blurry

With productivity the mantra in mass retailing, other categories not traditionally considered strictly cosmetics are entering beauty territory.

NEW YORK — The boundaries of the beauty category are blurring.


With productivity the mantra in mass retailing, other categories not traditionally considered strictly cosmetics are entering beauty territory. Often these are high-margin, high-impulse items.


The examples include foot care, deodorants and even condoms, which are now being cross-merchandised in beauty’s turf as more women take the role as their major purchasers. Unilever’s Dove had success turning its toiletry products into holiday gift ideas last Christmas, and the company hopes to score with a new deodorant featuring a beauty positioning. Dove Ultimate Go Sleeveless deodorant is designed to provide softer, smoother underarms in five days. It also provides 24-hour odor and wetness protection and carries a suggested retail price of $3.89 to $4.88.


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The product was in response to surveys that found almost 100 percent of women think their underarms are unattractive. To support the launch, the Dove brand tapped “Gossip Girl” actress Jessica Szohr to host the online Dove Go Sleeveless fashion challenge, which kicked off April 4. Using a Facebook application, women can design their own sleeveless top for a chance to get their design made to wear or win a grand prize of a $5,000 New York City shopping trip with Szohr. A floor display for the deodorant is featured in beauty areas.


Foot care is another category stomping into beauty. Dr. Scholl’s For Her Fast Flats and High Heels gel inserts are also merchandising on clips affixed to cosmetics shelves. Fast Flats are easy-to-carry flats women can use while walking and then easily put in the included wristlet purse once they arrive at a destination and want to switch to heels. Her High Heels are inserts to help ease the pain of high shoes. Chains such as Rite Aid, Walgreens and Wegmans are using clip strips to affix these products within the beauty area as an impulse idea for women — especially those with tired feet.


The cosmetics department is better suited to introduce these women to the products, according to a spokesman for Dr. Scholl’s, because they might not be walking by the traditional foot care area.


Deodorants and foot care might not seem like big leaps to be included in cosmetics, but Rite Aid is cross-merchandising a category that was once so secretive it was hidden behind the pharmacy counter: condoms. With the theory that women buy condoms as much as men, the chain is clip stripping condoms in the skin care department (near antiwrinkle creams), and cute condom cases are presented in feminine hygiene.


Other unique products getting a nod in cosmetics include clothes, such as cotton T-shirts and licensed apparel, teeth whiteners and even As Seen on TV items like the popular Pillow Pets (stuffed pillows that are folded into pet shapes). “Cosmetics is often a very trafficked department, so it makes sense for retailers to haul out impulse and profitable merchandise,” said Mark Griffin, chairman and chief executive officer for Lewis Drug. Lewis Drug’s newest prototype makes use of areas to display noncosmetics near the beauty department.