Seeking a Healthier Future, Drugstores Tap Into ‘Wellness’

Facing stiff competition, drugstores are reaching into their beauty departments to hitch their fortunes to the trendy wellness movement.

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Such a service is what drugstore executives aim to install in their beauty departments — a place where consumers consult pharmacists and beauty advisors for advice about their health and well-being. Chain executives hope that consumers will turn first to the drugstore for products to improve their looks.

Chris Bodine, senior vice president, merchandising, for CVS, which will be adding beauty advisers to 600 stores this year, commented, “We think there is a logical extension between health and well-being and the beauty category.”

Retailers continue to react to the need for skin care. Duane Reade is expected to be the next retailer to try an upscale skin care department with the Vichy and Avène brands, starting with two stores in Manhattan this summer.

For drugstores, fusing beauty and wellness could be a prescription for survival. Discount and food stores sell much of the same cosmetics products as drugstores these days. What they don’t have is the health care heritage that pharmacy retailers now want to flaunt. When Brooks began adding the specialty skincare centers to its stores, it made a point of locating them near the pharmacy — for added authority.

U.S. retailers may have their work cut out for them however. Boots had previously attempted a merger of health, beauty and wellness with lackluster results. Its 12 Wellbeing Centers - that offered beauty products and treatment services such as massages and manicures - were shutdown last year.

Procter & Gamble was one manufacturer taking a holistic approach to beauty care. The company, which was ahead of the curve last year with the introduction of Olay Vitamins, extended its makeover room at the NACDS show to offer hairstyling as well as vitamin consultation this year.

“What we are seeing and will continue to see is the blending of health and beauty. A lot of external beauty comes from internal wellness,” said Marc Pritchard, president of global cosmetics and personal care for Procter & Gamble. P&G, he noted, has a business model that maximizes the connections between product categories. For example, P&G works with retailers to cross-merchandise Cover Girl and Crest Whitestrips. From a product perspective, skin-protecting ingredients in Olay Total Effects skin cream are used in AquaSmooth, a foundation. “We have the breadth of products that consumers think of as beauty from fundamentals such as bath care and deodorants to full transformational items such as hair color and cosmetics,” he said.
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