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Drug stores have been the premier beauty destination

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With many nonessential brick-and-mortar retailers being forced to close due to lockdown measures during the pandemic, drug stores were able to fill the void for consumers looking to stock up on beauty and wellness products.

Sampo Parkkinen

In effect, the pandemic made drug stores a premier shopping destination for beauty products. Drug stores catered to a wider product assortment in the beauty category than grocery or convenience retailers, allowing them to become a replacement for specialty beauty retailers during the lockdown. As a result, consumers quickly adopted drug stores as the single most important channel for beauty purchases during the pandemic.

However, as lockdown measures loosen and we reach our new normal, drug stores face the challenge of again having to compete with larger specialty beauty retailers as well as department stores. In order to maintain their newly acquired status as a premier beauty shopping destination, they need to adapt and offer consumers new ways to engage with them.

One of the most effective would be to create a personalized shopping brand experience.

With more time spent online, consumers have come to expect customization and personalization of their lives. As they venture back out, they will be disinclined to give this type of personalization up for a traditional off-line shopping experience. Drug stores, however, can find ways to bridge that gap between online and off-line and do it in a very customized manner.

Integration of technology into all facets of their omnichannel strategy, such as in-store setups, chatbots and AI/AR solutions can enable them to do so.

For example, offering in-store, digital try-on technology provides consumers with the personalized experience of shopping online along with the in-store dynamics. This can be done through mobile phones, enabling stores to dispense with the use of unsanitary in-store screens, which will lose favor in a post-pandemic world.

Instead of being an afterthought or a separate entity, technology must be at the forefront of a drug store’s strategy. By investing in a personalized, omnichannel shopping experience, drug stores can strengthen their digital voice and position themselves as being able to understand both the physical and digital storefronts.

In ensuring that drug stores remain a shopping destination, assortment also has a role to play. Much in the way that specialty beauty retailers have built specific brand partnerships with influencer brands like Kylie Cosmetics or Huda Beauty, drug stores, too, can adopt this strategy to further differentiate themselves within the beauty industry.

This trend has already started, as beauty brands like Boscia and Flower Beauty sought out partnerships with drug store chains during the pandemic as a way to introduce their products to the public as they shopped for other essentials. To maintain a steady pipeline of new and upcoming beauty and wellness brands, drug stores should push their ability to stay open as an essential business and as one that is more frequently visited by a broader set of consumers as a selling point to winning over new partnerships.

The pandemic has shown the unique advantage that drug stores have over other beauty retailers, so it is important that they capitalize on their opportunity as an essential business and leverage their position in the industry.

Lastly, drug stores should continue putting a focus on wellness products. Pre-pandemic, drug stores already had an advantage over other retail channels when it came to wellness products. Drug stores could easily marry wellness products with their pharmacy offerings, providing consumers with a product mix that could meet any of their health and wellness needs. With wellness and consumers’ awareness of health now reaching 70%, drug stores have a chance to further expand their proficiency in this space.

Drug stores should emphasize their wellness offerings, putting them at the front of the store and creating brand awareness campaigns around them. For example, drug stores could create a setup that promotes products that provide a wellness boost while also making them feel good. They could look at restructuring the layout of their stores, putting health, beauty and wellness into one area of the store instead of segmenting out the beauty counter from the pharmacy counter. Additionally, they should look for ways to partner with popular wellness brands and offer personalized experiences for consumers in their stores. By embracing health, beauty and wellness as one category, drug stores can fully maximize their natural advantage in the space.

Overall, drug stores have experienced tremendous growth in the beauty and wellness space over the past year. With a greater focus on digital offerings as well as continued investment in the health, beauty and wellness channels, drug stores can remain a go-to destination for consumers in a post-pandemic world.

Sampo Parkkinen is founder and chief executive officer of Revieve, a beauty technology company. Revieve helps brands and retailers personalize the customer experience for skin health and beauty. He can be contacted at sampo@revieve.com.


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