Walgreens Positions Borba for Wellness

DEERFIELD, Ill. — The synergies with Duane Reade, acquired by Walgreens here last year, can be seen in the drug chain's reentry into the premium beauty segment with an exclusive skin care cosmeceutical line introduced last week. Developed by celebrity esthetician Scott Vincent-Borba, the Inside Out Beauty Solutions line of 27 items by Borba carries some cachet. The line, based on nutraceutical foods

DEERFIELD, Ill. — The synergies with Duane Reade, acquired by Walgreens here last year, can be seen in the drug chain's reentry into the premium beauty segment with an exclusive skin care cosmeceutical line introduced last week.

Developed by celebrity esthetician Scott Vincent-Borba, the “Inside Out Beauty Solutions” line of 27 items by Borba carries some cachet. The line, based on nutraceutical foods — superfruits such as acai berry, blueberry, pomegranate, cranberry and grapeseed — ties into Walgreens' goal to own “well.”

Superfruits, a class of foods known for their high nutrient or antioxidant content, are said to help defend cells against the free radical damage that can lead to premature aging, illness or even disease.

For drug stores, beauty has always been a part of the health care equation, said Brendan Langan, director of retail insights at Kantar Retail, Cambridge, Mass. “It's connecting feeling good and looking good to broader wellness.”

He noted that Duane Reade began selling Borba products in conjunction with the debut of the Look Boutique in 2009 where bottles of Skin Balance Water from Borba are sold in a refrigerated case.

“Walgreens is looking to expand the ladder and start to offer more upscale premium products that fit with both their beauty position but also their health care equities. For Walgreens, it leverages the work that Duane Reade has done,” said Langan.

In Walgreens' bold statement to own “well,” the company is appealing to everyone in America to be their first choice in health and daily living. “When they say they want to own the real estate of well they are looking to help people get well, stay well and live well,” said Langan.

Shannon Petree, Walgreens' divisional vice president and general merchandise manager for beauty, who is a former Wal-Mart Stores executive, is shaping Walgreens' beauty offering.

“Our customers see us as a valued destination for health and wellness needs, from the trusted standby beauty staples to the latest innovations,” she said in a company statement.

“Borba has created a buzz in the beauty world and among celebrities. Now, we're excited to bring these items to the masses so everyday women can achieve total beauty in a healthy, unique and affordable way.”

However, this isn't the first time Walgreens has entered the premium beauty segment. Several years ago it began merchandising the European Beauty Collection. Langan noted the line was discontinued because of price resistance. “The average price point threshold for a Walgreens is anywhere from $10 to $20 with $10 being the sweet spot,” he said.

Price points on the Borba collection range from $1.99 for waters up to $24.99 for treatment kits.

The collection includes:

• Nine clinically tested skin care products including Age Defying 4-in-1 Cleansing Treatment, Age Defying Wrinkle Smoothing Serum and PMS Skin Rescue 7-Day Treatment System ranging from $9.99 to $24.99. A five-piece Age Defying Starter Kit is available for $24.99.

• Nine dietary supplements including Firm & Fit Calcium Chews, Healthy Glow Immunity Drink Mix and Mighty Energy Gummi Mice ranging from $14.99 to $19.99.

•Four vitamin-enhanced Skin Balance Water formulas and four Skin Balance Crystalline drink mixes ranging from $1.99 to $6.99.

“To sell these types of products you need a certain amount of creditability and need that trust and conversation with the shopper who is going to purchase this type of product,” said Langan. He expects an aggressive advertising and promotional push of the line, supported by Walgreens' 20,000 beauty consultants throughout the 7,600 store chain.

Borba will make a series of personal appearances at Walgreens stores where he will conduct one-on-one skin evaluations and offer product samples. In-store appearances kick off in New York City on Jan. 30 and will run throughout the year in various markets across the country.