Bringing personalization to the personal care set


 Walgreens’ mission to go big in beauty includes personal care, Walgreens DMM Rudy Kucera told Drug Store News, for categories including grooming, hair care and oral care, “all part of the beauty regimen.” And just like in cosmetics, there is the quest to tailor merchandise for specific stores.

“At the end of the day, we want to make sure that our stores have the right offerings for our consumers — what does she want when she comes to our stores,” Kucera explained. “What one might want in her store in California could be completely different from what someone wants in Texas.”

Supplier partners can work in tandem with Walgreens by realizing not all items are right for all 8,000 doors. “As we go down the path with targeted assortments, suppliers can help us by understanding our demographics. They can go big in the doors that will be most beneficial to them and [more productive] for us,” he said.

With products relevant to shoppers in each door, the next step is working on positioning and understanding the brand flow to engage more consumers. Personal care categories have high usage rates, delivering a steady stream of shoppers. That also makes personal care an ideal fit for Auto -Reorder & Save, a replenishment program Walgreens debuted in December, which offers automatic refills much like prescriptions. “Anything that goes down the drain along with any replenishment item is a great candidate for the program. It not only is very powerful in making us easy to shop, it also locks in that consumer,” he said.

Hair care is a prime example of how consumers are changing and the merchandising must change, too, Kucera noted. Not surprisingly, multi-cultural is a big focus for growth at Walgreens, Kucera said. The number of blended families is growing in America resulting in the need for expanded solutions in textured hair care.

“Where the category is going is really understanding your hair type.,” said Kucera, whether it is fine, coarse or curly. Walgreens seeks to provide solutions through education and carefully constructed planograms. “We are doing things where we incorporate multicultural [products] within our general set; we’re bringing categories that have historically been merchandised separately together to meet her needs. The consumer should be aware of all solutions available within the aisle rather than separate from traditional hair care products.” This strategy is a departure from fewer than five years ago when ethnic hair care departments were housed away from traditional shampoos and conditioners.

There are other subsegments of hair showing sales growth, including higher-margin scalp health formulas and vitamins promising thicker tresses.

Meanwhile, grooming is another category undergoing a metamorphosis, especially as men add more skin care products to their Dopp kits. “Men are getting into a regimen — moisturizing, pre-shave, treatments. They are taking care of themselves,” he said. The halo effect from the Boots No7 Men’s line has further fueled demand.

Despite innovations on the shave side, the incidence of shaving is down as more men adopt the Lumbersexual look with “three days beard growth.” Kucera expects that to be a trend that will change. On the positive side, however, is an uptick in products used for trimming and body shaving Although men might not be shaving as much, Kucera said efforts to improve the shopping experience in the category by replacing locked displays with open sell solutions have helped unlock sales and make the category more accessible.. Also, Walgreens’ Beauty Advisors have been useful staging fun in-store events for new innovative launches.

The confluence of beauty and health isn’t lost on the oral care category where Americans are not only focused on the cosmetic benefits from a good oral regimen but its connection to their overall health as well. Since the plethora of oral care items can be confusing, Walgreens uses campaigns to help customers navigate to items that cater to both their beauty and health needs. Suppliers can help us in reducing complexity at shelf, which allows our customers to better zero in on products that will meet their needs.

There’s still work to be done in Walgreens’ personal care journey, Kucera noted, and important roles for its suppliers to play. With so many moving pieces in a launch —from developing displays to a logistics “war room” to ensure products are on shelves as advertising hits — Walgreens wants to work with suppliers to be engaged farther “upstream” in launches.

“I’m proud of our launch history and how with co-creation we bring assortments to life. If we align our goals and timing, we can do one heck of a launch,” he concluded.

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