Skin care is one of the fastest-growing and most important categories in the mass market wellness category today. With the segment’s rapid growth comes a flood of new items, making shelves challenging to navigate. The dizzying array of products on shelves complicates shoppers’ journeys.
Dermatologists and retailers came together to build a blueprint to streamline the process and help consumers easily locate professionally recommended skin care products on shelves. Removing challenges at the shelf was one of several topics tackled during the third annual Dermatology and Retail Alliance meeting held in Austin, TX, in September.
With a mission to devise strategies to improve skin health outcomes, 15 U.S. dermatologists, 20 key retail executives, three partner organizations and leaders from CeraVe and La Roche-Posay met for the two-day meeting. The alliance was created to improve access to education, promote healthy skin care routines and match products with specific skin conditions by connecting dermatologists with retail merchants, pharmacy executives, beauty advisors and retail pharmacists.
“It’s been gratifying to see the impact, growth and success of the alliance,” said John M. Reed, General Manager-CeraVe US, L’Oréal Derm Sales, Integrated Health & Integrated Medical Health Comms and one of the creators of the alliance. There is more work to be done, said Reed. The need for open lines of communication between retailers and dermatologists is two-fold. First, is the importance of patients finding products recommended by professionals on retail shelves stocked with derm-approved brands.
Second, is the opportunity for the retail community to encourage shoppers to seek the advice of medical professionals—only about 16% of Americans visit dermatologists, many citing affordability as the issue. With a united goal, retailers, derms and industry experts delved into ways to work together to improve Americans’ skin health.
“We all have to be on the same team,” said Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, one of the “who’s who” of dermatologists participating in the alliance.
After pharmacy, skin care is one of the most significant producing categories in mass market retailers. The business has changed dramatically over the past few years. The pandemic elevated consumers’ interest in taking care of their skin.
“Skin health has stayed at the forefront,” said Penelope Giraud, the general manager of La Roche-Posay. “People’s preferences and expectations for health are evolving to focus on preventative and science-backed products. The full beauty market is shifting toward health and aging prevention. There is a premiumization and people are willing to pay more for effective products,” she said.
Skin Care = Self Care
“People used to define wellness as the products in front of the pharmacy, but now wellness is not just physical health but has expanded appearance, nutrition, fitness, mental health, sleep and skin care,” said Andrea Harrison, vice president of merchandising-beauty at CVS Health during a panel discussion about how retailers are the connectors to better wellbeing. “The level of engagement that we see from customers is that skin is a reflection of their health to the world. It has become a critical cornerstone of that conversation.”
Joe Castellano, manager, clinical and pharmacy services at Rite Aid, said his chain has a holistic approach. “We have a goal of trying to help all of our customers and patients achieve whole health for life and skin is a very important part of that.”
The nature of the pharmacy business has synergies with skin care, according to Laly Havern, director of clinical pharmacy at Walgreens. “When I think of an oncology patient, for example, a lot of medications are going to affect their skin. We’re not just treating a condition and disease; we’re treating the whole patient.”
Walgreens engages in community events, such as through its Feel More Like You service, to help people living with cancer. The retailer’s beauty and wellness consultants help patients with everything from how to apply eyebrows after their hair falls out to issues like skin rash. “The best success we have had is when we combine beauty and wellness with pharmacists.”
Walgreens also has a DermatologistOnCall for any immediate in-store needs.
Skin Care Sale Gains Outpace Total Health and Beauty Increases
Total skin care sales grew 12% through the first eight months of 2023—higher than any other beauty segment, according to Circana. Mass market facial skin care sales outpace total store dollar gains, up 10.1% versus 7.6%. Moreover, facial skin care is the only health and beauty care segment producing unit gains rather than just an increase in prices.
The growth drivers are dermatologist-focused brands, especially CeraVe and La Roche-Posay, the two brands producing the biggest dollar sales gains, according to Circana. Acne is the fastest-growing segment within facial skin care, with sales up almost 25%.
There are untapped opportunities in skin care, especially acne, with Circana finding one-third of sufferers do not treat their condition, according to Kristin Hornberger, EVP and practice leader, healthcare for Circana.