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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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“The ‘store of the community’ is what we call our stores in particular demographics. We vary the assortment, which reflects our understanding of the customer in each community,” said Bauza. “We bring in local brands and are learning to communicate with our local customers. This extends to bilingual signage, and that level of detail in each community. Our stores in Mexico do extremely well, and there’s a high population of Mexicans in California and Texas. We are currently distributing products popular in Mexico in some of our U.S. stories.” She noted, too, the popularity of one hair styling gel in particular called Moco de Gorila, as an example of local brands from Mexico that Walmart has brought to the U.S. It’s a hair gel with youth appeal that creates spiky style options.

Gonzalez cited the popularity of Macy’s Flushing, located in the heart of the Chinese community. “The Asian community has so embraced Macy’s, particularly popular are such brands as Estée Lauder and Clinique. We’re doing more business than in Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco.” Gonzalez also noted that, unlike Walmart (which has created exclusive offerings such as Hard Candy and private label), Macy’s customers come for the brands they carry. “The customer comes for these brands, so we haven’t had the need to develop our own beauty brands,” said Gonzalez.

Bauza said that depending on demand, Walmart will adjust the brands they carry to meet the needs of their customers. “Kinerase, a prestige brand, has been brought into Walmart recently, and we’ve gotten a lot of calls from customers telling us their interests. We’re going to soon offer Cosmedicine, Physician’s Formula and Problem Solution, which we’ll probably roll into all doors depending on demand,” she said.

Challenges For The Future

“Today it’s very hard to predict what the consumer will want. Having the knowledge is very powerful," said Bauza. "We recognize the desire of the supplier to continually innovate and reinvent. That is giving us confidence. The consumer has learned to live very differently, and we’ve got to stay in front of her going forward.” Gonzalez concurred, saying, “It’s harder than ever to predict the big winners and hard to anticipate. We’re constantly calling and saying we need someone’s allocation, so it’s hard. We have found that customers are really responding to the technology we’re offering at the counter,” she said, citing the success of Clinique at counter.

Gonzalez added that cross shopping is really critical at Macy’s. “If our customer shops in certain kinds of beauty, that will help us determine where she will want to shop next.” Bauza noted that while at Walmart grocery is primary, they are locating the beauty and pharmacy areas strategically so customers will come to various parts of the store. “Pharmacy is also a big draw for our store. Wherever the customer finds surprises, a hook, the customer will come to the other side of the store,” said Bauza.