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[slideshow] Can Birchbox Boost Walgreens' Prestige Beauty Position?

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  • Birchbox spaces will deliver about 40 prestige beauty brands to Walgreens customers within uniquely designed areas.
  • A Build Your Own Birchbox space within a Walgreens (rendering).
  • A rendering of a wall space within the Birchbox-branded Walgreens space.
  • A rendering of a Birchbox retail space table setup.

Walgreens has taken a minority stake in Birchbox and is piloting a series of "Birchbox retail experiences" inside 11 Walgreens stores in major U.S. cities, further escalating the pharmacy channel's push into beauty. The move follows Viking Global's acquisition of a majority stake in the ailing beauty box and online retail pioneer, which is now worth a fraction of its former $500-million valuation. It also comes amid spiking competition among drugstores, as seen with CVS' recent partnership with Glamsquad.

This will allow Walgreens to tap into a multi-channel prestige beauty opportunity, creating interactive spaces within some of its locations. The pilot program includes a curated Birchbox shop on Walgreens digital properties, which the pharmacy giant hopes will give it an edge in brand discovery for its shoppers.

The spaces will roll out between December 2018 and early 2019, featuring "Birchbox branding, elevated design and a curated product assortment featuring full-sized skincare, hair and makeup products from more than 40 prestige brands," according to an official announcement. The spaces will be managed by Birchbox-trained Walgreens beauty consultants.

“In Walgreens, we have found an exciting partner that supports our mission of reaching an underserved customer who doesn’t prioritize beauty."

Online, Birchbox will offer subscriptions via Walgreens digital properties to its monthly delivery services of personalized samples, as well as a “Build Your Own Birchbox” experience (BYOB) in-store.

“This is an exciting time for beauty at Walgreens,” said Richard Ashworth, president of operations, Walgreens. “Our customers want to shop the most sought-after brands in a welcoming and accessible environment, and the addition of Birchbox to our growing beauty offering is a big step in delivering on our promise to differentiate and elevate the beauty experience at Walgreens. This collaboration will help enable Walgreens to continue to strengthen our beauty offering and build our prestige portfolio.” 

“In Walgreens, we have found an exciting partner that supports our mission of reaching an underserved customer who doesn’t prioritize beauty,” said Katia Beauchamp, CEO and co-founder of Birchbox. “Birchbox has effectively changed the relationship that this customer, who represents 70% of the market, has with beauty and increased her spend in the category. Walgreens is deeply committed to beauty and shares our vision for a different type of retail experience – one that is holistic, seamless and designed to help shoppers make informed, confident decisions. Together we will continue to evolve the integration of our physical and digital shopping experiences.”