NEW YORK — The new flagship Walgreens store in the heart of bustling Times Square is an impressive location with an exterior wrapped in massive digital signage and an interior that displays the latest in innovative merchandising at mass retail—and the beauty department is no exception.
Located on the second level of the tri-level, 16,000-square-foot store is a beauty department like no other seen within a Walgreens location. The beauty environment has a high-end look and feel that is designed to parallel any upscale department found on Fifth Avenue but to offer unparalleled accessibility to shoppers.
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Certainly the cornerstone of the beauty department is the L’Oreal store-within-a-store concept that is the gateway to the beauty area.
“It is the only department of its kind in the United States. L’Oreal has departments of this nature in capitals all of the world and they did not have one here in the U.S.,” Catherine Lindner, Walgreens’ divisional vice president of consumer marketing, told beauty editors during a walk-through event on Friday. “The store has only been open for less than a week but what we have found is that the sales are far, far beyond our expectations.”
Imported from Europe, the L’Oreal fixturing is illuminated and has clear shelving to help not only highlight the products but to also give the department an undeniable upscale look and feel. The L’Oreal skin care lines, such as Age Perfect and Advanced Revitalift, are merchandised vertically to make it easier to shop, and the images of spokesmodels, like Andie MacDowell and Diane Keaton, help shoppers select the age-appropriate products and beatify their skin at any age.
Shelving housing L’Oreal makeup can be pulled out and feature testers to encourage beauty mavens to experiment‹yet another feature unique to the drug store beauty scene.
And if shoppers need help selecting the products or shades that are right for them, the store has five beauty advisors on staff. Three of the five advisors have undergone L’Oreal training and they are easy to spot on the floor because they are wearing all black.
The L’Oreal fixturing also incorporates electronic media, with screens on the shelf showing commercials and advising customers on how to use and select products.
Situated in the middle of the L’Oreal department is a special cross-functional display table with a mirror that can be pulled out for live, in-store product demos and makeovers. In what promises to be a major driver of traffic, L’Oreal representatives will host special live events in the store. The first is planned for Dec. 10. When L’Oreal is not hosting a live event, the table will be used to highlight new products.
“Walgreens and L’Oreal have worked together for more than 40 years and have developed a great partnership over the 40 years but this is really the next level of that partnership,” said Lorraine Coyle, vice president of sales for L’Oreal, which has its New York City office located just blocks away.
Because the store is located in the heart of tourist-heavy Times Square in a building that serves as the centerpiece of the city’s famed New Year’s Eve celebration and is one of the world’s most photographed and televised landmarks, it seemed fitting to L’Oreal executives to implement the concept in this location.
Lindner and Coyle said it is unclear at this point if the L’Oreal store-within-a-store concept will eventually be expanded to some of Walgreens’ other 6,500-plus stores.
That partnership also extends to the outside of the store where L’Oreal, along with several other major suppliers like Colgate and Kraft, advertise on the 13 digital signs at street level.
The expansive beauty department also offers several Walgreens exclusives like The Face Shop, Yes to Carrots and international brands from the chain’s European beauty collection. There’s also a three-foot section of salon hair care brands, including the hair care line from celebrity stylist Sally Hershberger; a three-foot luxury bath section that features Details, a fairly new Walgreens private label line; and a selection of designer fragrances.