Retail News Breaks
Advisers lift beauty to higher level at drug chains
March 19th, 2014
NEW YORK – One edge department stores traditionally have had in the beauty category is in-store cosmeticians who are authorities on makeup and fragrances, as well as skin care, hair care and nail care products. With the arrival of beauty advisers at chain drug and other mass retailers, that's no longer the case.
Rite Aid beauty adviser Chiarra Hughes (right) assists a customer at the Nail Bar.
Moreover, the experts in drug and mass retail outlets may even be favored over their department store counterparts because, unlike the latter, they don't represent particular brands. Hence, their advice is unbiased.
At Shoppers Drug Mart advisers complement the chain's latest Beauty Boutique format, which features added prestige brands.
"We introduced this new concept all while holding true to our principles of knowledgeable and unbiased service in an enjoyable and convenient shopping experience," according to Cathy Masson, the chain's vice president of category management.
Courtney Kelly, manager of the Beauty Boutique in Shoppers Drug Mart's streetfront store at 3336 Yonge Street in Toronto, the city's main North/South shopping street, said it is not only the strong selection of prestige and mass brands that makes the store's beauty department a favorite destination for her customers.
"Our customers really value the fact that they get unbiased advice from our Beauty Advisors, who will not be favoring any one brand. They will get the product that is right for their skin, their coloring and their particular personality and style," Kelly said. And the recommendation does not have to be a prestige brand, she noted. "If a mass product would actually be best for the customer, then that is what the Beauty Advisor will recommend."
At Walgreen Co., advisers are helping the chain take advantage of the growing opportunity in the beauty category as consumers shop across channels. The retailer said earlier this year that it's ensuring it has the right services for cross-channel shoppers by, among other actions, "elevating its beauty offering."
That's being accomplished through the efforts of staff like Toni Majerus, a Walgreens Beauty Advisor at the chain's store in Edmonds, Wash. "I have a passion for beauty," said Majerus, who named the top Beauty Advisor in Walgreens' western region in 2012 and the No. 1 Beauty Advisor companywide in 2013.
"Our customers really value the fact that they get unbiased advice from our Beauty Advisors," said Courtney Kelly, a Beauty Boutique manager for Shoppers Drug Mart.
Thanks to Majerus' dedication to serving customers, the Edmonds store has become a magnet for the area's upscale beauty care shoppers, offering a nail bar, testers and an array of products displayed on large glass tables. "I try to make the department my own little boutique," she said. "I'm really into merchandising and try to make the department look very upscale and attractive."
At Rite Aid Corp., beauty advisers are linked to the chain's wellness ambassadors at its wellness store locations. While the wellness ambassadors focus on customers' health, bridging the front end and the pharmacy, beauty advisers assist customers with their makeup and skin, hair and nail care needs.
"Beauty advisers are specially trained Rite Aid associates that can help shoppers learn about the new brands as well as others across the department," category manager Judy Wray said this fall when the chain debuted a new beauty format. "They can also demonstrate how to use products and educate customers on beauty-related topics like color-matching and current trends."
According to Chiarra Hughes, a beauty adviser at Rite Aid's store in Waldwick, N.J., customers appreciate the personalized service and attention.
"I really live for customer gratification — to know that I've provided shoppers with the greatest experience possible. If they walk away happy I feel that I've done my job," she said. "They love the fact that there's someone here who's knowledgeable about specific products and can help them find them."
Hughes said she jumped at the chance to leave her beauty adviser post at Macy's when she heard about the opening at Rite Aid. One attraction of the new job was that, while at Macy's she represented Estée Lauder and Clinique, at Rite Aid she would be brand-agnostic, making recommendations strictly based on customer needs and product merits. "I've got to be fair to each and every brand we carry," she noted.
Target Corp., which calls its advisers "beauty concierges," said their expertise serves customers who are passionate about beauty.
"In an often crowded and sometimes daunting marketplace, Target's Beauty Concierge program ensures that guests receive the friendly, personalized counsel they need to purchase their favorite beauty products at affordable prices," explained Bryan Everett, the discounter's senior vice president of stores in the Midwest region.
For example, Breanna Janikowski, a Target beauty concierge in Minneapolis, said her guests want a beauty routine that works for their busy schedules. "I look for products that do double duty, like CoverGirl's BB Cream, which acts as a light foundation but adds moisture and SPF protection. Guests also have questions about tools for a more even coverage. I love the sponge blenders by [Target store brand] Up & Up and Sonia Kashuk for quick-and-easy coverage."
On its website, Rexall encourages customers seeking beauty products and advice to touch base with its Beauty Consultants.
"Much care and consideration is taken in terms of what we put into our bodies, so what touches our skin and hair should be just as pure and clean. ... Ask our Beauty Consultants for a one-on-one consultation, product demonstrations and a free skin analysis," the Canadian drug chain's website said.
Jenny Ho, cosmetics manager at the Rexall in Toronto's Richmond Adelaide Centre, said the store has seen a steady buildup of traffic and business since its opening two. That growth did not come automatically. Ho noted that store-based events and building relationships with customers have been key to her department's positive experience.
"Many of our customers greet staff by name, and we know many of their names and can greet them the same way," she said.
Ho said she and her colleagues want customers to know that they wish to have an enduring relationship with them. To that end, it's routine that, after a customer has been advised on a product new to her (or him), a call will be made to the customer to find out how the product is working out and if the customer is satisfied.
The consultants align with Rexall's health care orientation in that, in the words of chief executive officer Frank Scorpiniti, "feeling good is not only inside; it's outside as well."
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