A New Face: Rite Aid Reformats to Pump Up Beauty Sales

After examining beauty sales trends for the past seven years, Rite Aid category manager Judy Wray felt it was time for a new approach.

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While beauty has a starring role in the Customer World stores, Wray hopes the tweaking in existing stores pays off with consumers — especially men. "We found that although 66 percent of consumers walking through our stores are female, 34 percent are men," said Wray. To cater to them, one major change at Rite Aid is the creation of a men's grooming section.

Men shop differently from women, said Wray. They don't bargain shop, they don't use coupons and they spend less time looking for a product. If they can't find a product, they'll leave the store rather than ask.

To clear room for men's, Rite Aid relocated depilatories. The new men's area pulls together regimen lines such as L'Oréal's Men's Expert and Nivea for Men, Axe, body washes, hair care, hair color and exclusive Rite Aid products, such as Philip for Men from Swissological.

There is also a new spa section starring Rite Aid exclusive and limited-distribution brands. Like many buyers, Wray has seen the ebb and flow of spa and bath product sales. Wray likes exclusive brands available for limited times at Rite Aid because these items serve two purposes: They help Rite Aid stand out from the competition, but don't require the constant marketing push of a proprietary label. A perfect example is Mod Spa, which was created by Delicious Brands LLC for an initial exclusive launch at Rite Aid. After a year, the brand will be available to other retailers.

"We are absolutely looking for ways to offer our customers something new and with a point of difference from competitors," said Wray. Another example is Swissological, which is beating expectations. Another Rite Aid exclusive, Pure Spring, is a collection of natural bath and body products.

In beauty, Wray is using the limited exclusive philosophy to launch Jesse's Girl, a youthful line from CRL Marketing. Jesse's Girl is exclusive in Rite Aid through January 2006.

Wray is a huge supporter of up-and-coming beauty brands, especially because when she looks at her numbers, many of these lines have produced her biggest increases. She's also culling slower movers in many stores to make more space for Jane Cosmetics and Physicians Formula.
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