What trending beauty stores can teach independent pharmacies

February 9, 2017By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy

by Brittany Benson, manufacturer research specialist

Have you noticed that the opening of stand-alone beauty stores and boutiques has evolved into a growing trend in multiple countries? Why are they such a big deal? According to Drug Store New’s Marianne Wilson’s review of Kline & Company’s Boutique Beauty Retailers: Channel Analysis and Opportunities report:

  • “These freestanding stores offer unique concepts, a fun environment, and highly knowledgeable staff. They also give customers the advantage of trying out products and in-store guidance.”boutique beauty
  • “‘Boutique retailers offer a fun and interactive environment that isn’t found in other channels, which is appealing to younger, digital consumers,’ noted Ewa Grigar, the study’s manager.”

Those same concepts can be applied to your store. It doesn’t matter whether you sell beauty products or not!

  • What makes your store unique? Convey it to customers, your community, and prospective customers. Make sure it is well-known through your messaging and the shopping experience.
  • Do you have a fun, warm, or welcoming environment? While these concepts are in the eye of the beholder, no one prefers to shop in a stodgy, dusty-shelved, barely-stocked store that looks like it’s as old as their ancestors. Assess your interior and exterior to determine if it portrays what you’d like it to.
  • Do you highlight and market the skills of your knowledgeable staff? While it’s common knowledge to you, there was a time in my life where I was not aware that anyone working behind the pharmacy counter was a trained and educated pharmacy tech. It’s just not something I ever thought about. Do all of your shoppers know that they possess that knowledge, or do customers assume that anyone on the store floor is just part-time help to sell products?
  • While it’s not an option for Rx items, do you take advantage of passing on OTC product samples to customers? Many manufacturers offer sample programs, some even for free. In addition, do you make a point to offer customers product recommendations? Do you limit it to what you carry, or do you expand your recommendations to include other local businesses and other types of therapy or lifestyle investments your customer should consider based on their health needs?

A key analyst of the report stated, “The success of this new wave of beauty stores depends on whether brands can keep up with the pace of younger consumers’ digital needs, as well as keep a store’s levels of innovation and engagement high.” While I don’t think independent pharmacies will need to compete on the same level of innovation and high engagement as is needed in the beauty stores that keep popping up across the world, the elements of their existence are definitely important reminders of ways to make your business stand out and appeal to a changing consumer market.