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CEW Presents “Mass Appeal of Skincare”

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: May 24, 2010
CEW April 2010

Remi Kent (left), global associate marketing director, Olay, P&G Beauty, and Shannon Petree, divisional vice president and general marketing manager, Walgreens Co. discussed the reasons for the continued growth of mass skin care during one of the most difficult business climates at a recent CEW Women in Beauty Series event.

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Shannon Petree noted Walgreens emphasis on customer-centric retailing (CCR), which she said was drawing customers into accessible and friendly health and beauty aisles. “Opening up the aisles and keeping them customer friendly in our 7,200 stores across the country enables us to leverage that number so people can find both their pharmacy and health and beauty needs easily,” said Petree. “Health and wellness are really growing. Having internal health and addressing the external element with beauty products is the complementary positioning at Walgreens. Creating a bridge between health and beauty is key for Walgreens. Our customers are a lot more savvy about ingredients and science, and want both better quality ingredients as well as accessible prices.

“Our job is to do the homework for our customers. A lot of people are going online and doing research, and then they are asking us if we carry formaldehyde-free nail polish, for example. They are educated about the products we sell. We have a virtual customer called ‘Social Stella,’ who is in her 30s, and she is educated about what is new in beauty. We’re also trying to engage the younger group of customers, for example, those 18-year-olds on a budget, with the appropriate products, and we hope she will grow along with us.”

In addition, Petree noted that Walgreens is working with supplier partners to make sure they have the right information and the products in the store. They also have trained beauty advisors who communicate with customers. This is all part of the customer-centric approach.

Differentiating Products

“I’m getting the sense that [consumers] are pushing back to an extent. They are saying, ‘give me a reason to purchase this product,’ so the products they buy are relevant,” said Kent. “Yes, so the products don’t wind up in the beauty graveyard,” quipped Petree, concurring with Kent’s point.

In a world tour undertaken by Kent—during which she traveled through Europe, India and Dubai—she spoke with women in their homes and found that each woman articulated their interest in being beautiful. However, they said they wanted to be the best they could for their age, authentically. To that point, Petree noted that women are willing to pay for something if they believe it will work. “Communicating the quality of your product is key,” said Petree, citing the Olay Pro X advertising currently running on television, in which the product receives scientific support, adding credibility. “Now customers are trusting that Walgreens is making good decisions for them,” said Petree. Kent agreed, “Credibility is primary. We made sure our claims were bold and dimensionalized the results. In addition, prominence on the shelf also makes it work for the customer.” Kent noted that looking across categories is key. “Clearly, we are looking across all categories, and where we saw the clinical trend was in prestige, we took that concept strategy to Olay Pro X,” said Kent.