NEW YORK ­— Rite Aid is adding a healthy dose of beauty to its Wellness format.

This story first appeared in the November 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As consumers continue to expect a greater beauty selection at drugstores, Rite Aid is curating a mix of premium brands including Senna Cosmetics, Alison Raffaele Cosmetics, Beautyblender and Eddie Funkhouser in select stores.

The product assortment in the company’s Beauty Vision stores will be unique to each store, said Rite Aid category manager Judy Wray. The latest iteration of the concept is currently under construction at its store located at 534 Hudson Street here. The department is illuminated and highlighted with the fixtures and signage associated with the newly added brands. One of the most striking elements is the new nail bar featuring on-trend colors.

With its splash in beauty, Rite Aid, the nation’s third-largest drugstore chain with fiscal sales of $25.4 billion and a total store count exceeding 4,600 units, is out to prove it can compete with the likes of Ulta and drugstore beauty formats, such as Walgreens’ Look Boutique.

First introduced in 2011, Rite Aid’s Wellness store format features various health and wellness products and resources and advanced clinical pharmacy services. Unique to Rite Aid, Wellness Ambassadors provide personalized customer service and serve as a bridge between the front end of the store and clinical care services provided by Rite Aid pharmacists. To date, the chain has converted more than 1,000 stores to its Wellness format and has 1,700 Wellness Ambassadors working in these stores.

After visiting stores, talking with consumers and attending Cosmoprof Las Vegas, Wray had a list of new brands she thought would be appealing to Rite Aid’s customer base.

Rite Aid worked with Beauty Fashion Sales as it began to develop and execute the program. The Beauty Fashion Sales team collaborated with Rite Aid to reach out to the up-and-coming brands. “Rite Aid’s Beauty Vision stores offer a nice mix of brands, some geared toward younger customers, in multiple price points, ranging from about $14 to $55,” said Kim Logan, vice president of business development at Beauty Fashion Sales.

“This is another example of Rite Aid’s stealth way of recapturing its business and doing so in strategic ways that are different than the competition, such as how they approach their loyalty program, which has unique features,” said Wendy Liebmann, founder and chief executive officer of WSL Strategic Retail. “In beauty, they are taking a targeted approach, and I think the positive experience they’ve seen with Wellness Ambassadors will cross over with beauty advisers, too.”

Another key part of Rite Aid’s beauty strategy is its Beauty Vision advisers, which are exclusive to Rite Aid Wellness stores with Beauty Vision departments. These associates can assist shoppers with all brands across the entire beauty department, demonstrate products and educate shoppers on topics like color matching.

“Our Beauty Vision advisers speak to what is unique about the brands as well as other product lines in the store and are making Rite Aid a destination for beauty,” said Wray.

Wray confirmed that the upscale lines help boost sales across the entire beauty department. She said she’s on the lookout for other lines to appeal to her consumer as well as additional innovations to “delight customers and enhance their shopping experience.”

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