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There’s a New Walgreens in Town

For the past few months, this reporter has been eyeing the construction of a new Walgreens five minutes from my house. That might not sound that exciting to most readers, but with all of the changes at Walgreens, this new store did pique my interest.

Walgreens is undergoing a major overhaul. Much has been said and written about edits in product selection and a goal to be more consumer-centric. The store isn’t officially open yet. But, from just casual visits during the soft opening, Walgreens has a hit with this location and the touches of its prototype used here. This unit shows all of the latest efforts in drugstore retailing, including a drive-through pharmacy, a large convenience food area, state-of-the-art photo services and a bright and airy beauty department.

Beauty is still right off the entrance, but there are some physical changes to the department. There is more space on the perimeter to focus on non-beauty items — often impulse products and seasonal ideas. In this store, the service counter has been reduced in footage and pulled back out of the aisle. It is still visible and sends the message there is service, but it is not as much of a focal point of the department. A new icon for beauty sets off the entire area. There are lights galore, which brighten up the department. Most of the fixtures have some form of lighting and areas with graphics that help educate shoppers on the beauty products.

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The gondolas are lower and the selection is pared back without seeming to sacrifice choice for shoppers. Consumers strolling the aisles seemed to like the updated look. The store seems to reflect the needs of a typical shopper — a busy woman who wants health and beauty needs under one roof. Not surprisingly, many of the concepts were spearheaded by Kim Feil, Walgreens’ first marketing chief who came with armloads of consumer experience from Sara Lee. Walgreens was in need of updating and the new store shows that, although a work in progress, there are dramatic signs of life. Walgreens is also updating its online presence. Under the direction of Sona Chawla, Walgreens has an iPhone Application, a Facebook page and has been sending tweets on Twitter.

There sure is a new Walgreens in town.

People, Places and Things

A few words with Kathy Steirly, a former retailer now building a consulting business. Steirly, who held high beauty positions at chains such as Target, Eckerd and Walgreens, hopes her business acumen and mentoring style will help bring new items to market.

WWDBeautyNews: Why did you decide to start your own business?

Kathy Steirly: One of the things that made me want to goes back to my love of the business. As a retailer, I worked on so many launches and believe I really helped marketers identify key consumer needs. It was a real kick to be part of Yes To Carrots which really identified interest in natural products.

WWDBeautyNews: What do you hope to help the industry avoid?

K.S.: I am afraid with so many decisions being made in boardrooms that we might not have the new products and services we need going forward when business returns. We don’t want to lose creativity. Drugstores, in particular, are well positioned with the focus on health and wellness. As more people come in to drugstores, they will be exposed to the beauty department. I think right now you are seeing Duane Reade do an incredible job with beauty and Ulta has also created a true opportunity for specialty stores. They both provide a great shopping experience with service.

Olay and Dawn:
Procter & Gamble has launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote its Dawn Hand Renewal washing-up liquid, which combines Olay skin care.

P&G said the focus of the product’s development has been the fact that the majority of women are concerned that their hands can give away their age. This is just the latest example of P&G transferring product knowledge from one category to another.

Laura Bush and NACDS: Former First Lady Laura W. Bush will be the keynote speaker at the NACDS Foundation on Dec. 1 at the Hilton New York Hotel.


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