BEAUTY CARE

Credit Suisse: Drug channel front-end sales benefit from earlier Easter

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — An earlier Easter holiday this year helped boost sales significantly across the drug store channel, Ed Kelly, Credit Suisse research analyst, reported in a research note published Wednesday. 
 
"Drug store front-end sales growth, as reported by Nielsen, returned to positive territory in the period  ended April 11, but likely benefited from the pull forward of Easter to April 5 this year from April 20 last year," Kelly noted. "Industry sales growth of 2.5% was well above last month's minus 1%. We estimate sales grew 5.2% excluding an estimated 270 basis point negative impact from lower tobacco sales (vs. last month's adjusted 1.7% growth)."
 
Sales of health and beauty items were up 4.5% year-over-year vs. growth of 2.4% last month and sales of cough-cold remedies were up 13.7% year-over-year vs. growth of 12.7%. 
 
"Candy was one of the strongest sales growth categories, likely a result of Easter moving into the period," Kelly added. 
 
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Despite merger, focus stays at home

BY Michael Johnsen

Walgreens forever changed its corporate trajectory with the execution of its “step 2” merger and acquisition of Boots Alliance, creating a truly international retail pharmacy operator with the restructured and rebranded Walgreens Boots Alliance.

(Click here to view the full report.)

But here in the United States, Walgreens’ core go-to-market strategies remain the same. Walgreens still excels at a healthcare offering, which not only enables its pharmacists to practice at the top of the their license, but also positions Walgreens as an optimal partner to health systems interested in improving the health outcomes of their patients; Walgreens is still a master at pushing the envelope of what the average consumer thinks they can find at their typical drug store with both a eye-catching prestige and masstige beauty offering and a focus on both fresh foods and products unique to the local markets; and Walgreens still helps pave the way toward a comprehensive omnichannel offering that delivers more experiences to consumers when, where and how they want.

As an example of how Walgreens is helping to improve health outcomes metrics, Walgreens WellTransitions program has successfully reduced hospital readmission by some 47% in more than a dozen communities nationwide, said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president pharmacy and retail operations. “[The program] is designed to help patients as they’re transitioning from the hospital out into the community that ensures that they get their medication before they leave the hospital, so [it’s] really focused on that primary nonadherence gap,” he said. “We’re also focused on special conditions, or rare diseases and conditions, [with] specialty pharmacies [across] the country — somewhere near 1,000 in total that have extra training and extra capabilities in terms of taking care of these defined populations.”

But it’s that patient experience across the backbench that continues to distinguish Walgreens as a premier pharmacy offering. “We’ve got a designated strategy and approach to free up pharmacists to spend more time with patients, [and] we’ve got technological capabilities that centralize some of the tasks that occur within pharmacies,” Ashworth told Drug Store News. The end result is a pharmacy operation primed to position a pharmacist in front of the drug store counter.

As outlined in Drug Store News’ special March 9 report “Walgreens goes BIG in Beauty” that showcases Walgreens’ unique beauty position, Walgreens has become a “loved” destination center for men and women aspiring to live happier lives. Walgreens is fusing the best in prestige beauty brand offerings with the flavor of its U.K. Boots beauty business and the exclusive, iconic No7 beauty brand. And Walgreens’ more than 26,000 Beauty Advisors help solidify that in-store beauty experience with a personal, educated touch.

“We’re also focused a lot on technology,” Ashworth noted. “We’ve got the Walgreens app, so we have refill by scan, we have our immunization record that you can pull up on your phone, you can also chat from the phone as well,” he said. “We’ve also got some new partnerships that we announced on that front … like MDLive, WebMD and our Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices, which is a digital platform to connect people’s daily behaviors and actions to be healthier.” Walgreens partnership with MDLive brings to Walgreens’ patients a telehealth offering launched in December that will give Walgreens app users 24/7 access to U.S. board-certified doctors. And with WebMD, the companies are working together to provide WebMD’s virtual wellness-coaching programs directly to Walgreens customers. Walgreens also has incorporated WebMD content on a variety of health topics, co-branded by WebMD and Walgreens, into its digital experience and stores.

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Hot Concepts: Whole Foods’ ‘Beauty Week’

BY Antoinette Alexander

Competition within the retail beauty space continues to heat up as Whole Foods Market, which has long been lauded for its beauty standards, made an even bigger splash with its inaugural “Beauty Week” that took place in late March.

(Click here to view the full Category Review.)

During the event, Whole Foods celebrated all things beauty related with events, classes, demonstrations and promotions to inform shoppers about the retailer’s selection of personal care products and cosmetics.

During “Beauty Week,” all Whole Foods Market locations offered a limited edition “Hello, Beauty!” bag for $18 (valued at $60). Each beauty bag contained six exclusive product samples, including derma e Microdermabrasion Scrub, Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask, Giovanni 2chic Ultra Repair Shampoo, Pacifica Eye Shadow Duo or Lipstick, Trilogy Vital Moisturizing Cream and Gabriel Mascara, plus $5 in beauty coupons. The bags were made with 100% cotton recycled saris from RIJI Green, a business committed to ending human trafficking.

“One thing that really sets us apart in the beauty industry is our standards. Our shoppers know and trust us because we have baseline standards that prohibit 50 ingredients in the products we sell, along with our top-tier standards, called Premium Body Care. When we first launched our premium standards in 2008, we had about 400 products that were certified — now we have more than 4,000,” said Maren Giuliano, executive global Whole Body coordinator.

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