Mass & Class Meet in Beauty Aisle

04 Jan 2006|Leah Hunter

Why stand alone in a new market when you can partner? Apparently a lot of European beauty brands are asking themselves just that. Rather than creating stand-alone stores, they’re teaming up with US mass merchandisers to break into the North American market. Finland’s Lumene is getting serious shelf space in CVS. Rite Aid is stocking hair care products by British brand Umberto Giannini. But my favorite example is…

…Boots cosmetics, an import that is hitting a bullseye.

With more than 1400 retail locations, Boots is the most well known drugstore in the UK. (You can’t swing a welly in London without hitting a Boots.) Their private-label cosmetics brands are wildly popular in Britain, and they’re taking off in the US by teaming up with my favorite store to stroll: Target!

I was wandering Target this summer, eyeing the new Mizrahi madras, when I first discovered this British invasion. I couldn’t miss it, really. Boots didn’t just introduce a single product. They took over a whole aisle. They needed the space; their US line includes nearly 600 cosmetic and toiletry items—1/3 of the number of Boots-branded products offered in their UK stores.

This stateside move has been in the works for awhile, but it’s just now taking off. In early 2004, Boots introduced ten of its most popular private label brands in thirty Target and CVS stores – a test run to see if the partnership would fly. It worked. According to Drugstore News, in early 2005 the brand kicked off a serious US expansion, revamping its best-selling No. 7 cosmetics line and hiring a New York ad agency to promote the brand. The Boots Retail International website reports that they are now in more than 108 Target stores across the country.

I can only hope the same thing happens in softlines. When Target launches a Topshop line, I’m moving in.

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