MASS RETAILERS BREAK OUT OF THE BOX
FROM TARGET’S BREAKTHROUGH PRIVATE COLLECTIONS TO WAL-MART’S PUSH FOR UNIVERSAL FIXTURING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN ALL NATURAL SKIN CARE DISPLAY BY VALUE DRUG, RETAILERS ARE STRIKING OUT IN NEW DIRECTIONS. HERE IS A LOOK AT SOME UPSTART PROGRAMS, RANGING FROM PRIVATE LABEL INITIATIVES TO NEW STORE DESIGNS.
Byline: Andrea M. Grossman / Laura Klepacki / Faye Brookman
Although originally founded by drugstore retailers, the Ulta prototype of today is a far cry from the look that debuted in the mid-Eighties. With its latest debut in the Philadelphia market with four stores, Ulta is proving to be a true hybrid bridging mass and class.
Called the Level 4 design, the stores are set up for how women shop, according to company president Lyn Kirby. Kirby, the former president of Sears’ Circle of Beauty, sees the store as an escape for harried women. The 10,000-square-foot stores are decorated with fresh flowers. There’s a cafeG for a quick cappuccino, as well as Internet and fax services. The mix features a wide array of Ulta private label products as well as upscale offerings from Tony & Tina to Elizabeth Arden. For those who like to cross over to mass, there are aisles and aisles of mass brands such as Revlon, Oil of Olay and Neutrogena. Ulta leaves the preteen market to drugstores or Claire’s. “We want women to forget about the kids for a few minutes,” joked Kirby, a mother of a youngster herself.
A new wrinkle in the stores in the Philadelphia market is the addition of a wellness area stocked with vitamins, soothing compact discs, candles and water fountains.
The comparisons to Sephora abound, but Kirby thinks Ulta is very different. Ulta, for example, is situated in easy-to-access strip shopping centers.
“We want to be in convenient locations where women can buy both prestige and mass products and still get a good hair cut,” concludes Kirby. Based on its current expansion plans, Ulta of Romeoville, Ill., will operate some 90 stores in 12 states by yearend.
Value Drugs is capitalizing on the success of its healthy nutritional supplement business with an end-of-aisle display that offers natural skin care products.
The display went up last year when the chain’s Huntington, N.Y., store was built. The intent is to help differentiate Value from the bevy of chain drugstores it competes against in the area.
The three-by-four-foot display is found in the Value Nutrition center of the store, an area dedicated to thousands of nutritional and dietary supplement items. The display houses many different products, including body lotion and eye makeup remover from Joey NY; shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen from Aubrey Cosmetics, and a natural PH balancing spray from Twinlab.
The display’s woodgrain paneling and black shelves stand out from the in-line shelving, noted Phil Clemente, department manager for Value Nutrition. (Value Drugs leases the space for Value Nutrition to Clemente.) “By putting the items on its own separate display,” Clemente said, “it draws attention to the fact that we have these items in the store.” The display also attracts shoppers of regular cosmetics since it’s adjacent to that section of the store.
Since its inception, Clemente has received several requests by customers for additional natural products. In response, he added Jason Cosmetics to his mix, which is merchandised with the traditional cosmetics lines.
Clemente is a little surprised by the positive customer feedback generated by the display. “Initially, we brought it in and didn’t know what kind of reaction we would get,” Clemente said, “but now we hope to do much more with the cosmetics end of this business.”
Target is bursting with many new initiatives for 2001, one of which will create dedicated shops for their exclusive bath line, Brambly Hedge.
Gregg Steinhafel, president of Target stores, said in September that Target has “begun to leverage the brand-building power of our new, exclusive license with Brambly Hedge. By next spring, we plan to have dedicated shops in all Target stores.”
The Minneapolis-based retailer first introduced Brambly Hedge in April to 940 stores. Brambly Hedge is inspired by British author and illustrator Jill Barklem’s tales of mice in the English countryside. While the books are for children, the collection of Brambly Hedge bath and fragrances targets all age groups under different lines: Poppy’s Babies targets infants, Buttercup targets young girls and Forget-Me-Not targets young women.
To date, Brambly Hedge has been situated on end-of-aisle displays. But a Target spokeswoman said “the shops will bring together multiple Brambly Hedge items on Target fixturing to make a stronger, more impactful statement.”
Before Brambly Hedge, Target had already been developing an extensive private label bath and body collection, and last year it introduced its exclusive Sonia Kashuk Professional Makeup line.
Phar-Mor is readying to launch a 75-stockkeeping-unit line of private label bath products under the brand Karen Diane. The launch will bring Phar-Mor into the existing competitive circle of retailers with private label bath lines.
Karen Diane, also referred to as KD, will target all different demographics with separate lines, formulas and packaging. Price points will range from $3 to $9.
Phar-Mor is also considering creating a line of private label cosmetics. At September’s Cosmetics Buyers Forum, cosponsored by Chain Drug Marketing Association and WWD, Nick Colisimo, Phar-Mor’s director of marketing cosmetics/beauty, sought out private label cosmetics manufacturers as possible vendors. Phar-Mor of Youngstown, Ohio, operates 139 stores.
Eckerd Drug Stores
In order to grab the attention of shopping-savvy teens, Eckerd Drug Stores partnered with Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based Sassy Doo! to create a teen destination area, dubbed Teen Center. The area houses 70 stockkeeping units on an endcap, which is strategically placed in beauty departments so that traffic from cosmetics and personal care aisles naturally extends to Teen Center. The new merchandising display includes everything from niche cosmetics, skin care, room decor, hair accessories and journals. Teen Center began shipping in July to about 2,500 Eckerd stores.
The Teen Center Eckerd displays won’t be the same as a Teen Center used by a competing chain since each center is designed by a retailer’s beauty team. Eckerd’s beauty team built a back-to-school endcap program.
Price points for products on the endcap range from $2.99 for lip gloss to $14.95 for a lamp, clock and light-switch set.
Shopper’s Drug Mart
This Canadian retailer has taken a head-first leap into private label cosmetics with Quo, a makeup artist-type collection.
The introduction of Quo last year went hand in hand with a department redesign that the 800-store company is testing in some 20-plus doors. Quo, meanwhile, is in 247 doors, but will not be expanded chainwide. Executives believe the collection targeted at a “mid-prestige market” is not the right fit for all its units.
Unlike U.S. retailers, Shopper’s offers a mix of prestige and mass market brands. A big piece of its redesign was to take its department store brands out from behind glass cases, a la Sephora.
The company has also created a store-within-a-store treatment area that it calls the Dermatological Skin Care Center. The center, now in four Shopper’s doors, features skin care items from Vichy, Neostrata, RoC, Reversa and La-Roche-Posay. The centerpiece is a computer diagnostic program provided by Vichy that determines through questions and a skin hydration test which products are best suited for the client. A consultation can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has led the charge toward universal fixturing. Not a surprising move from a company known for its streamlined inventory management system. With universal fixtures, retailers expect to better control their departments. Wal-Mart’s new look is currently being expanded to at least 500 doors by next year. Its gray plastic fixtures are said to give the department a futuristic look, with cosmetics appearing almost space age. On top of each fixture is a small canopy equipped with lights so that all merchandise is illuminated.
The retailer-controlled shelving is designed to enable Wal-Mart to easily adjust space allocations. Traditionally, manufacturer-supplied fixtures come in one-foot increments. At a Wal-Mart in Orlando, Fla., some brands were given 1 1/2 feet of space.
In other beauty business, Wal-Mart launched Rimmel to offer its shoppers an exclusive brand. Rimmel, a Coty Beauty brand, is available only at Wal-Mart.
In the U.S., Rimmel follows a three-tier pricing structure with items sold at $1.97, $2.97 and $3.97. It has been designed to offer consumers an affordably priced line in a market where mass prices continue to inch higher, according to Coty executives.
Wal-Mart of Bentonville, Ark., currently operates 1,742 Wal-Mart stores and 835 Supercenters in the U.S. Earlier this month, it announced plans for another 300 new stores.
CVS has shifted into high gear this year.
In April, the Woonsocket, R.I.-based chain unveiled its 75-stockkeeping-unit Essence of Beauty bath and body collection.Three months later, it began testing Essence of Beauty cosmetics in select stores along the east coast. And now the 4,100-store company is readying to rollout its Girl Lab display, which features a collection of private label items for teens.
But there is more. It is also beginning a test of a universal fixture that is expected to include interactive features.
Essence of Beauty cosmetics include lip color, lipliner pencils, lip gloss, lip balm, liquid eyeliner, eye pencils and nail polish. Prices range from $2.99 for lip balm to $5.99 for a lipstick.
With the debut of Essence of Beauty, CVS chairman and chief executive officer Tom Ryan said, “The launch represents another step in CVS’s strategy to maintain its leadership position in the beauty and personal care category, an area that is crucial to the business.”
This family-owned chain is one of the few remaining retailers to offer beauty advisers in its departments. And according to Valerie Cheyney, cosmetics buyer, if a customer can’t find something she wants, “we will special-order it.”
Happy Harry’s, based in Delaware, had a strong year in cosmetics sales, which rose 12.5 percent over 1999. Executives attribute the growth, in part, to a department streamlining. A reduction in its cosmetics inventory — that did not diminish product selection — sharpened the beauty presentation and helped increase inventory turns, according to Harry’s executives.
Harry’s has also embarked on an expansion plan. Now at 47 stores, the regional chain intends to open another 15 units as well as replace two existing branches with new stores. The new designs include improved lighting and wider aisles and more emphasis on beauty. “We are spotlighting cosmetics more in our new stores,” said Alan Levin, the company’s chairman.