WSL Future of Health Event

Lauren Brindley, Group VP, Beauty & Personal Care, Walgreens

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — As with many industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the beauty market forever, says Lauren Brindley, group vice president of beauty and personal care at Walgreens.

Lauren Brindley

Lauren Brindley

In the short term, social distancing has created both significant challenges and opportunities, she says. “Retailers and brands are having to rethink their in-store experiences, pivot their supply chains to support different growth engines, and accelerate digital and e-commerce services at a pace never believed possible.”

Longer term, customer behaviors and expectations have been changed permanently, and a new normal will emerge. “I expect to see retail channels blurring, increased virtual offerings and an even stronger focus on healthy, clean beauty,” says Brindley.

Walgreens’ purpose is to champion the health and well-being of every community in America, and never has that purpose been more important than now, she adds. “As a pharmacy we have remained open throughout and have quickly adapted our retail offer to support customers in new ways, including offering select products at more than 7,300 pharmacy drive-throughs nationwide and adding emphasis on healthy and hygienic beauty. We are also well placed in the long term as the retail landscape changes and customers continue to look for safe and trusted solutions and ­retailers.”

Walgreens’ Beauty Differentiation strategy has driven growth in revenue, profitability and customer satisfaction in the stores, notes Brindley. The chain has upgraded its environments and brand propositions, and introduced beauty consultants. Prior to the pandemic the retailer had just launched the third phase of the program, upgrading skin care and fragrance departments with new merchandising, brands and services. It was especially excited about the launch of a new dermatological and premium skin care offer.

Beauty consultants deliver extraordinary customer care by understanding an individual’s needs (based on skin type, color and desired output) and then recommending the best personalized solutions for them. Given the challenges of social distancing and potentially longer-term reticence to touch in a retail environment, Walgreens is creating more virtual and digital tools to support the consultants. It is also looking at how it can bring beauty consultants’ expertise to customers at home, virtually.

Walgreens’ partnership with Birchbox has been a great learning experience, adds Brindley, saying, “What we know for sure now is that customers love having access to prestige beauty brands and experiences in a drug store.”

The retailer also takes pride in offering the Feel More Like You service, which helps people with both the physical and medical side effects of going through cancer treatment. It also is proud of a new collaboration with Susan G. Komen and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to enable research in tough-to-treat cancers and increase access to care with a pledge to contribute more than $25 million to the organizations, collectively, over the next five years. Through a combination of corporate donations and in-store fundraising, the commitment will enable new research in metastatic breast and pediatric blood cancers, as well as increase access, treatment and support services for those living with these diseases.


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