Drugstores, once utilitarian extensions of the doctor’s office, are becoming selfcare destinations.
Traditionally, the drugstore was the place to go to treat a physical ailment; the place to seek out prescriptions to combat an infection, ibuprofen to soothe a headache, or bandages to protect a cut. But now, taking care of oneself involves more than just reacting to a physical problem when it arises—it means anticipating and maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing. In the “Well Economy” report, released in 2017, JWT Intelligence found that, while 77% of respondents associate health with physical condition, nearly as many (75%) say that when they think about health, they think about mental health. What’s more, only 17% of consumers seek out prescription medication when they feel ill.
This broad-based, holistic view of health and the resulting behavioral shifts risk leaving the pharmacies of yore in the dust. “There’s definitely a broken experience in the pharmacy of large chains,” says Craig Elbert, cofounder of direct-to-consumer prescription company Care/of. To combat this and to incorporate the widening definition of wellness, drugstores are expanding their offerings in an effort to become enjoyable destinations for complete wellbeing.
In June 2018, Casino Group together with L’Oréal launched Le Drugstore Parisien in Paris, which offers personal care services such as light therapy, dry cleaning, and shoe-shining stations, in addition to the normal range of products. “In cities, we have been paying particular attention to the new ways space and time are used, which are radically changing consumer behaviors. The lines between work, culture and fun are being blurred, creating a new way of living. So city dwellers need tailored products and services to make their lives easier,” explains Jean-Paul Mochet, chief executive officer of convenience banners at the Casino Group. “This goal was exactly what we had in mind when designing Le Drugstore Parisien—a unique, laid-back place that celebrates joy, pleasure and wellbeing amidst the hustle and bustle of Paris life.”
As the definition of wellness expands, beauty is becoming a major focus within the health category. In August 2018, CVS launched a new retail concept called BeautyIRL, which aims to reposition the drugstore as a beauty destination where customers can receive treatments, test products and learn about new brands. CVS has partnered with beauty service Glamsquad to offer in-store treatments such as facials and manicures, which can be booked online or via walk-in at prices ranging from $30 to $45.
The store’s new format also includes a Mini Must-Have Boutique where consumers can fill bags with mini products for $5, $10 or $15, an expanded K-Beauty section and a #NowTrending wall where consumers can discover and test new brands. “We are making investments in our front store to enhance the customer experience within health and beauty,” Maly Bernstein, vice president of beauty and personal care for CVS Health, told WWD. “As one of the largest beauty retailers in the country, we understand that consumers see beauty as part of their selfcare routine, which is connected to their overall health and wellbeing.”
As new retail concepts are modernizing the traditional drugstore, they are opening the category for larger-format retailers to make similar changes. Target is following this tailored approach to retail with new personal care and customer service offerings. To tap into the $8.7 billion men’s grooming market, Target has launched a section dedicated to male personal care, with over 600 products and accessories. The retailer has also introduced in-store and virtual beauty concierges who give customers product recommendations and beauty tips. These releases follow the company’s store modernization plan, including the remodeling of 1,000 of its retail outlets by 2020, a move which is being credited for delivering the company its best quarter in 13 years.
With this shift, the drugstore is growing away from its clinical and functional roots to make room for a more diversified definition of wellness.