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CEW Newsmakers Discuss Retail; Today's Consumers

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: February 22, 2011

(From left) Jill Scalamandre, CEW chairwoman and CMO Chrysalis; Carmen Bauza, vice president beauty and personal care, Walmart Stores, Inc.; Carlota Jacobson, president, CEW; and Muriel Gonzalez, Executive vice president, cosmetics, fragrance, and shoes, Macy’s.

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Bauza added, “We are a mass store and we are trying to do the best job at communicating product solutions for our customer. This is really an era of transparency and it’s an opportunity to create that experience for our customers with that service and price point option our customer seeks.” Bauza said that in beauty, as well as in other parts of the store and around the world, Walmart is customizing. “We are customizing in all our stores, from the average fragrance price of $50 to the bottle of Chateau Margot in China.”

Gonzalez said the Macy’s customer still loves gifts with purchase (GWP). She cited the recent L’Oréal GWP bag, which has excited consumer discussion on Facebook, and said that Macy’s monitors social media, which gives them great feedback. Bauza revealed that consumer feedback at Walmart was brutally honest. “We hear all the good as well as the bad, and our customers tell us what we need to know. So, it’s great to have that social connection,” said Bauza, who shared that women spend on average seven hours per month on Facebook. She also cited a partnership with Maybelline that directed customers to Walmart when they clicked on Maybelline.

Gonzalez agreed that social media was a great source of information. “We have new ideas each month about how to use social media and it evolves every day. It’s great to get that customer feedback,” she said. Bauza added, “We’re a private company, so we don’t share too much on Facebook, but it’s an area where we are targeting our customers and reaching targeted age groups.”

Bauza emphasized the impact of online beauty advice when customers are searching for brands, noting that customer feedback has prompted a bigger breadth of brands in the Walmart stores, including the addition of Essie nail care, which is a popular brand with customers.

Growth Strategies

“Macy’s is focusing on the millennial consumer with its Impulse boutiques,” said Gonzalez, noting that Impulse, originally a fashion product from Macy’s West, is now coming to all Macy’s stores, and the concept has been taken into beauty. “We’re adding indie lines to the assortment and have found that it’s a completely incremental business. Of the 60% of customers that had previously bought color and treatment products, they were now buying more, and Macy’s is now offering more edited assortments in cosmetics and fragrance, and is reaching out in areas beyond beauty with that concept.”