OLDER WOMEN DRIVE SOUTHWEST SALES

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — Drugstore operators in the Southwest said women over 45 buy more beauty products than any other age-specific consumer group.
Defining the 45-plus woman as self-knowledgeable with deep pockets, stores said mature women want sun protection, lots of bath and body products, muted color palettes and moisturizers, especially those that target the eyes and neck. Regimens formulated for sensitive skin also are popular.
“Our target clientele is the 45-to-70-year-old woman,” said Richard Spence, co-owner of Post Oak Pharmacy, Houston. “That’s always been our core business.
The women luxuriate themselves in products that meet their needs and make them look good, and they definitely have lots of spending power. The category not only includes the ‘ladies who lunch’ crowd but career women, too.”
Acid-based skin care lines, including MD Formulation, Physicians Formula and NeoStrata, along with Lancome and Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramides collection anchor Post Oak’s treatment business.
“Wrinkles obviously are a concern for these women,” said Spence. “And with the Houston heat, women also have to think about avoiding skin cancer. So treatment and products with high SPF factors are bestsellers. The Dermage treatment and color line has an SPF of 15, and it’s very popular.” Citing the 45-plus consumers’ desire for product knowledge, Spence said Post Oak’s pharmacists often are called into play at the store’s beauty counters.
“Women want to know what’s in a product and how it works, so the pharmacists’ often come over and define ingredients,” he added. “And certain drugs, including erythromycin antibiotics, cause extreme sun sensitivity. Women taking these need extra sun protection.”
Ironically, Spence said a specific customer’s age is never discussed at the counter unless the customer brings it up.
“Discretion really is the better part of valor,” he said. “These women usually know what they need and will ask for it. And when they don’t, we ask them about their skin and their lifestyles — but never age.”
Spence recently picked up a new olive oil-based skin care line called Alessio, and it’s already a bestseller. Alessio is indicative of Post Oak’s accent on unusual, often international, lines. Others include Jacklon Foaming Milk Bath from Italy; Mustella, a hypoallergenic treatment line from France; Ahava, the Israel-based line that’s formulated with ingredients from the Dead Sea, and Kneipp, a German bath line.
Dougherty’s Pharmacy in Dallas attracts lots of older women to its beauty counters, many of whom have had plastic surgery, said Barbara Clinton, beauty manager.
“The 50-plus customer has special needs, including soothing and concealing products for post-surgery care,” she said. “Physicians Formula offers special concealers to hide redness. And DermaBlend and CoverMark are both extremely popular coverups.” Post-surgical customers often complain of sensitive skin that burns more easily in sunlight, said Clinton, who recommends high-SPF sunscreens or color or treatment regimens to her customers. Bestsellers are Physicians Formula, MD Formulation, NeoStrata, Ahava and Elizabeth Arden.
Nichols Hills Drugs, Oklahoma City, Okla., said its older beauty customers are interested in pharmaceutical-based collections, with efficacy more of a concern than brand name.
“Women spend money on their beauty and treatment needs — there’s absolutely no price resistance,” said Linda Blalock, beauty consultant.
“If they think a product will help, they’ll try it. And it’s not just popular beauty brands, either. Products made by drug companies that target particular problems such as dry or itchy skin are the most popular.” Bestsellers include Oilatum, a lotion for allergic skin problems; Sarna, a steroid-free lotion for itchy skin; Cetaphil, a lotion for dry skin; Hermal, a bath oil for dry skin, and Amlactin, a body lotion.
The store also sells lots of CoverMark to women who’ve recently had plastic surgery and Allercreme to those with sensitive skin. Mass cosmetics lines generate the balance of Nichols Hills beauty sales, including L’Oreal, Pond’s, Oil of Olay and Max Factor.

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