CVS Pharmacy

Executives Weigh In on Back-to-School Beauty

Executives Weigh In on Back-to-School Beauty

As students head back to in-person learning, mass retailers are seeing signs of a seasonal swell in product purchases.
The implications for beauty are myriad, given the advent of platforms like TikTok and renewed interest in self care catalyzed by the pandemic.
“When I think of back-to-school, it elicits memories of reams of paper and pens, and stuff like that. We’ve moved away from that and are thinking more broadly about getting back into school and the depth of the experience,” said Andrea Harrison, vice president of beauty at CVS.
“We’re more focused on providing ways for our customers to protect the health of their families,” Harrison continued, saying that CVS is “growing our focus to be much more inclusive of beauty and personal care, and those things bring hygiene, confidence and self expression.”

Self care is still at the fore, but not in the traditional sense. “There’s a growing emphasis on all things confidence, so [categories] like personal cleansing and hand sanitizer are really an increasing part of this storyline for the customer that supersede a definition of beauty. It’s brought up taking care of oneself, end-to-end,” said Harrison, who added that oral hygiene “has absolutely been on fire.”
For other brands and retailers, consumer behaviors lingering from the pandemic are proving stickier than ever. “We developed this behavior of taking a moment for yourself, taking a bath or using products you wouldn’t have normally used,” said Anisha Raghavan, chief marketing officer of No7 Beauty Company, the brand subsidiary of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

“We’re seeing the amplification of the trends and growth for back-to-school that we were already seeing,” Raghavan said. “Some of those trends include simplification of routines, people being willing to try new brands, looking for value, as well as ingredient-based trends.”
Soap & Glory, Raghavan said, found in a recent study that 70 percent of consumers valued self care more than they did one year ago. “When we look at what we’re launching, bath and body scrubs are up 59 percent, but Soap & Glory scrubs are up 80 percent,” she said.
WBA also recently launched Boots Ingredients, a line of products at Target centered around single-ingredient names, as a reaction to “seeing a lot in ingredient-based trends, and we saw consumers say value was a big driver,” Raghavan said.
Color cosmetics in the mass market is experiencing a resurgence, and No7 has reaped the rewards, too. “Cosmetics definitely is one category that’s growing again,” Raghavan said, elaborating that “lash serum is really hot right now, as well as a return to lipsticks and mascaras.”
Outdoor products are resonating just as strongly at CVS. “We continue to see customers rushing for confidence categories, things like lipstick and traditional cosmetics. Sun care has been a fantastic demonstration of people getting back out there,” Harrison said.
Expression is still top of mind, too. “Customers still love trends, though. We see all sorts of bold nail and hair colors flying off the shelves,” Harrison added. “What we hear from customers is that there was such a long period of a lack of self expression, and there’s so much newness they haven’t tried that’s coming out. They’re trying to replace their makeup bags full of stuff that’s been sitting for a year. It’s really finding new things, refreshing and replacing all at the same time.”

To that end, Raghavan is optimistic about sales across categories. “People are ready for real life again, and shopping behaviors indicate that,” she said.
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Will CVS, Target and Walmart Pave the Way for More Sustainable Retail Bags?

Will CVS, Target and Walmart Pave the Way for More Sustainable Retail Bags?

A new reusable bag pilot may be coming to a CVS, Target or Walmart near you.
The pilot is the crux of the “Beyond the Bag” initiative, launched by the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag (with founding members such as CVS Health, Target, Walmart and Closed Loop Partners) to redesign the single-use plastic bag. In July 2020, the Consortium announced an innovation challenge gathering hundreds of applications from international innovators to create a new option for retail bags.
In all, $15 million has been committed to the initiative with Dick’s Sporting Goods, The TJX Companies, Inc., The Kroger Co. and more signing on.
Since the announcement of challenge winners in February, progress made is now materializing at stores.

Starting Aug. 2 through Sept. 10, select Beyond the Bag challenge winners will have their innovations tested across nine high-traffic CVS, Target and Walmart stores in Northern California, with progress updates and customer reach to be shared once the project is fully underway.
Four solutions, including Goatote (reusable bag kiosk), Fill it Forward (an app that tracks the use of bags customers already own), ChicoBag (reminds customers to use reusable bags on-site and get rewards for each use) and 99Bridges (Internet of Things-powered app called Mosaic that tracks end-to-end bag use) — will be tested in-store. Customers at participating stores can opt in to test these new solutions.

Calling the pilot an “essential step to test, incorporate customer and retailer feedback, and improve new solutions, exploring pathways to scale,” Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners, a partner to the Consortium, said quick iteration is the aim.
The project mirrors a past initiative by The Center called the “NextGen Consortium” which included the commercialization of a more sustainable cup for pilot at McDonald’s and Starbucks.
“At Walmart, we believe climate change requires bold collective action. Minimizing plastic waste, in particular, depends on collaboration and cooperation across the retail industry,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. “These pilots represent a unique and exciting industry-wide commitment towards a more sustainable future, and we are excited to work with the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag and to be a catalyst for meaningful change.”
Expressing excitement for the pilot, Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at Target and president of the Target Foundation added “co-creation,” “collaboration” and “continuous iteration” are key.
In addition to the in-store pilots, other winning solutions from the Beyond the Bag Challenge will be piloted and tested in different contexts, including reusable and refillable returns solution Returnity and digital identity solution Eon. Walmart delivery will test the solutions in select markets.
Initial learnings from the current pilot could inform scaled-up options in the future, as The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag looks to evaluate the solutions and initiate future tests, programs and investments.

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