PARK CITY CHAINS APPROACH BEAUTY DIFFERENTLY

Byline: Faye Brookman

PARK CITY, Utah — After a day of punishing their bodies on the slopes of The Canyons, Park City or Deer Valley, patrons of this ski mecca near Salt Lake City have a choice of supermarkets to seek out soothing remedies.
The site of next year’s Winter Olympics, Park City also hosts competition among three major ski mountains and three prominent supermarket chains — Dan’s Supermarkets, a division of Associated Food Stores Inc.; Smith’s, and Albertson’s. All three have differing approaches to beauty and health and beauty care.
The Albertson’s here, one of 2,500 stores operated by the Boise, Idaho-based food chain, has the most complete array of products of the three stores.
It was the winner for New Jersey visitor Brad Klinck when he needed skin cream to soothe his family’s windburn, and Pepto-Bismol for his daughter. “The people are friendlier in here and the prices are better [than Dan’s],” said the comparative shopper. The department certainly lures shoppers. On a recent trip, customers were looking for remedies for sore muscles, lotions for dry skin and mascara.
Albertson’s beauty products are located just to the left of the store’s entrance. The biggest statement is made in skin care — a crucial category for Park City, where skiers experience dry skin thanks to the altitude and dryness of the climate.
Specialty bath starts off the skin care area where there are products from Body Refreshers by Parfums de Coeur, Coty’s The Healing Garden and Solar Cosmetics Body and Earth. The entire specialty bath area spans more than 8 linear feet and includes brands not typically found at drugstores.
Across the aisle are skin lotions with a heavy concentration on therapeutic brands such as Curel, Lubriderm and Eucerin.
Cosmetics are located in the same aisle and include 8 feet of Revlon, 8 feet of Maybelline, 4 feet of Oil of Olay and 4 feet of Cover Girl. While many grocery stores stock only Cover Girl and Maybelline, Albertson’s uses Revlon as its lead-off position in cosmetics to show it can compete with drugstores. The assortment also includes Bonne Bell and Wet ‘n’ Wild to cover the needs of budget and young customers. And, since there isn’t a department store for miles, Albertson’s remains committed to prestige fragrances. A locked case contains scents including L’air du Temps, Drakkar Noir and 273 by Fred Hayman Beverly Hills.
The store features signs alerting customers to the fact that the chain had cut down on its lighting to help save energy. “The shortage of electric power generation is no longer just a California problem,” said Scott Moore, Albertson’s director of energy management.
Albertson’s recently announced it was eliminating a regional marketing and merchandising philosophy in favor of a divisional approach. The goal is to make merchandising decisions closer to store level. “One marketing plan does not work for all operating areas,” said Peter Lynch, president and chief operating officer for Albertson’s. There is already evidence the chain is practicing micromarketing based on the sheer size of departments such as skin care and bath at this resort store.
Executives also said that the company is seeking to further delve into the beauty category. “It isn’t just for drug stores. We need to leverage our size and expertise in the area across all of our stores,” said Kevin Tripp, executive vice president who oversees the beauty department.
Less than a mile away is a homegrown chain called Dan’s Foods Stores. The seven-store upscale merchant was purchased in 1999 by Associated Food Stores Inc., a retailer-owned cooperative. The Dan’s store here is more upscale than Albertson’s when it comes to grocery, but lacks the same commitment to beauty as its neighboring retailer. Beauty, which is just beyond the pharmacy, features a universal pegged-board presentation of traditional supermarket brands such as Cover Girl, Maybelline and Bonne Bell. It is obvious that Dan’s has put its emphasis on food departments rather than beauty.
The skin care area is 50 percent smaller than Albertson’s, but is also sprinkled with a heavy concentration of therapeutic options.
Smith’s is farther out of town, but features a store that is a true combination food and drug store. That’s because Smith’s was originally a drugstore chain that grew into a food retailer. The drug side has a pharmacy and a complete array of beauty items including a counter for fragrances. The extra drive to Smith’s pays off for those seeking a full drugstore ambience.
All three food chains are examples of the efforts the industry is making to get back in the beauty game. With fewer and fewer drug retailers and consolidation in mass merchants, grocery operators are once again recognizing the beauty of beauty. These efforts have paid off with food stores experiencing a 4.6 percent gain in facial cosmetics, according to Information Resources Inc. data for the 52-week period ended January 28. Food, drug and mass sales expanded only 2.7 percent.
Park City has become known for its proximity to the Sundance Film Festival as well as the home of ski mountains for the Olympics. It is also becoming a site for the sampling of beauty products. During the Sundance film festival, for example, Revlon sampled its new Skinlights skin brighteners, while Estee Lauder handed out moisturizers. According to Revlon, sampling during the festival was an efficient way to get the product in women’s hands and helped the line get a good sales start. With the spotlight focusing on Park City for the Olympics, odds are that this town will become an even hotter spot for beauty.