Q&A: Forging connections with Shannon Curtin of Walgreens

Walgreens, in collaboration with Lebhar-Friedman Publishing, debuted at the end of March an exclusive beauty publication called Discover Beauty Within. The quarterly magazine, which is the first exclusive beauty publication for Walgreens, made its nationwide debut at all Walgreens (except Puerto Rico) and Duane Reade locations. To learn more about how Discover Beauty Within fits into Walgreens’ larger beauty vision, DSN talked with Shannon Curtin, group VP of beauty and personal care at Walgreens.

DSN: Why does Walgreens want to get into the magazine business, and what’s the mission for Discover Beauty Within?

Curtin: It is very true to what we do anyway, which is connecting people and products and expertise together in meaningful ways. This was just another vehicle in which we could connect with customers. It wasn’t anything that we currently had in our portfolio and, because of everything that we’ve done with Beauty University, we had this rich content and information available. … We gave [the information] to our beauty advisers, but we felt like we had a lot more to give to our customers, too, and this was one way for us to do this. And they can go online and get more information. If they want to watch videos, they can see how to do things on their own. We just want to make sure that our beauty portfolio is always accessible and we have good solutions for our customers.

DSN: How does Discover Beauty Within fit into Walgreen’s larger beauty vision?

Curtin: Our mission is to go big in beauty. … If my desire for our team is to be the world’s most shopped and loved beautydestination, this is part of the love where you are with her in her home and she’s reading something that we developed just for her in a subject that she’s interested in. This business is all about those connection points. As small of a piece as it is, it is a big part to being with her when she’s thinking about this space and connecting with us differently than she had before. That is very important for us in our journey; … we don’t have a transactional relationship with our customer, but they know us and we know them on a one-on-one, personalized [basis].

DSN: What got you thinking this way and helped shape your vision for beauty?

Curtin: Sometimes experience helps you build your vision, and I’ve been in this business, fortunately, for 22 years. I learned from my very first job that having a one-on-one relationship with your customer builds a lifelong journey with them, and that’s never left me. This is one of the last romantic businesses that still exists where a human being can talk to [another] human being about things that are happening to them in their different journeys and different life phases, and have somebody to help them from decade to decade to decade. So, taking that in mind and saying, ‘Ok, where are we? Where’s Walgreens after 113 years? And where can we be with our partnership with Boots, and what we are doing all around the world, and how can we tie all of this together and be something really meaningful to our customers?’ So, that’s how the vision gets created: … You take everything that you’ve learned; you take what you know are possibilities, leverage all of your assets, and you come up with [a] own story that is uniquely your own.

DSN: Why should vendors get involved in this program? What’s in it for them?

Curtin: It is a cost-effective way because we wanted to make sure that any supplier was able to participate in this vehicle, that they could talk about their brand and build their equity inside our equity. We think it’s a great option for folks who maybe are not able to get into some of the bigger, traditional beauty [magazines] that are out there today.

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