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Walgreens’ Attention to Detail

Walgreens hopes the secret to building the luxury bath and body business is all in the details.

NEW YORK — Walgreens hopes the secret to building the luxury bath and body business is all in the details.

In fact, Details is the name of its latest exclusive line, a 36 stockkeeping unit collection of body washes, hand gels, body lotions, body mists and hand washes. Details is available in six flavors, with hand gels retailing for $2.99 each, and all items in the standard 12-oz. bottle selling for $5.99 each and two for $10. The flavors are: Island Cottage, Slice of Life, Sweet Surrender, Tropical Garden, Country Meadow and Summer Shower.

The line was created by InStyle Fragrances, an exclusive supplier to Walgreens of fragrances that mimic prestige scents. With Details, Walgreens hopes to create a mass alternative to specialty bath and body merchants such as Bath & Body Works.

“This is part of the makeover of our luxury bath department,” said Mariana Adame, assistant category manager for luxury bath and fragrance. “I have been working on it for more than seven months and I had the pleasure of finding a partner who shares our vision.”

David Pina, the creative director on Details from InStyle Fragrances, said the strategy was to elevate the options at mass and provide a luxury concept with fragrances and clever names that promote a sense of fantasy and escape. Adame agreed that the chain’s vision is to redefine specialty bath with flavors that appeal to all segments of the market.

“Even if you are not a lavender fan, you might like ours, or we have other flavors that will appeal to you,” she said. “We also think the packaging is unique and will produce impulse sales.” Adame said that although the look is sophisticated, the pricing is a value. “We wanted to be premium quality, but pocket-friendly,” she explained.

Beyond the scents, Adame said the products also feature “good for you” ingredients in a bid to merge pampering and health within the bath category. Bath sales in drug chains, according to Information Resources Inc., continued on a downward trend, off 14 percent to $70 million for the 52-week period ended Jan. 27, 2008. Many retailers are examining the department for clues how to get it back in the black.

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Additionally, Walgreens’ beauty advisors are getting trained on the line, a strategy that should provide a boost to the category. Store consultants have been sent sampling kits and other tools to help get shoppers talking about Details. Dovetailing with Walgreens’ efforts is an overhaul of the other key bath brands, such as The Healing Garden and Calgon. Details is merchandised near both lines and some slower-moving sku’s were edited to make room for the homegrown line. There is a micro Web site highlighting the Details line, which also has an e-commerce aspect. Details is also featured in Walgreens’ current circular.

Walgreens is one of several drugstore chains building loyalty by offering exclusive brands. In fact, signs in Walgreens’ stores tout brands “only at Walgreens.” Walgreens doesn’t rule out expanding scents for Details and perhaps even extending the brand name to other categories.

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More than 2,200 executives representing the chain drugstore industry will meet at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., over the weekend to kick off the 75th National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Annual Meeting. The celebration will be highlighted with vignettes of many of its past chairmans discussing their favorite NACDS moments. Although much will be made of the past, the industry executives will be setting their sights on the future, especially in a challenging economic period.

Even the glamorous meeting is a bit more austere: Revlon is moving its annual party from Mar A Lago to The Breakers and the Bob Kwait bash has been put on hold this year. The issues executives plan to probe outside of pharmacy matters include: upgrading beauty, especially as competitor Target adds premium brands such as Bare Minerals and Kiehl’s; adapting to a rash of new entries as space on the wall becomes harder to manage than ever, and dealing with the greening of the industry and determining how natural to go in beauty.

After a full day of appointments on Saturday, Sunday will open up with Business Program I, which includes a State of the Industry report from NACDS chairman Dave Bernauer, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Walgreen Co., and a State of the Association given by NACDS president and ceo Steven C. Anderson. The session will also include insight from broadcast journalist and author Tom Brokaw. Sunday’s program is chaired by Ashley McEvoy, president of McNeil Consumer Healthcare. Entertainment at the closing party will be provided by Billy Crystal.