I’m not sure about you, but I’ve read up about CVS a lot recently and it certainly seems like they’re taking an aggressive position when it comes to beauty. Last week I spoke about how they’ve partnered with Kiss Products, Inc. to launch the brand Joah Beauty, bringing K-beauty inspired cosmetics into mass retail. Well, it turns out that CVS is broadening its beauty offerings in a big way through at least two other strategic partnerships. Firstly, they’re collaborating with the on-demand, at-home beauty service company Glamsquad to pilot BeautyIRL (IRL stands for “in real life” by the way), an exciting store-within-a-store concept that reimagines what the beauty aisle of CVS could be. And secondly they’ve also partnered with eSalon, the bespoke hair color company, to bring their Allure award-winning custom color kits to the masses.
Each partnership brings more fun, more personalization and more convenience to the beauty-shopping experience which really hasn’t existed at the mass retail level before.
Totally exciting stuff!
If you’re lucky enough to live in Andover, Massachusetts, Stamford, Connecticut or Florida you may have access to one of these BeautyIRL concept stores right now. So far CVS has made it available at just 4 locations in the U.S. (FL got 2, while MA & CT got 1 each), but there are plans to expand the offerings online and to more store locations by 2019. I have my fingers and toes crossed that one will come to NY soon! (However I’m not horribly far from Stamford, so maybe a field trip is in order 😉.)
So what is BeautyIRL exactly? I believe the idea is this: you feel like you’re walking into a stand-alone beauty retailer but in reality you’re simply wandering into the (enhanced) beauty department of your local CVS. It seems there’s a whole bunch of uber cool offerings in these concept spaces. There’s a “trending” section with up-and-coming indie brands; an expanded K-beauty section; more natural and/or organic products; and a whole section where you can shop just beauty mini’s. If that doesn’t excite you already, well get ready! A whole slew of on-demand, personalized beauty services are also on the menu thanks to Glamsquad including consultations, makeovers, blow-out’s, and various skincare services. Also, in massively big news for me, there were will a “Test-and-Play Hygiene Bar” where you can (finally!) sample and touch your favorite drugstore brands. Oh my gosh, are we finally getting drugstore testers???
But CVS is not stopping at just cosmetics & skincare. You can also now get bespoke hair color kits in the new BeautyIRL locations thanks to their partnership with the e-commerce company eSalon. Color consultants will be on-site to match customers to their perfect hair shade and to operate a device that will create and dispense custom shades. The whole hook is making the product available for immediate purchase.
The concept of BeautyIRL builds off CVS’s biggest beauty campaign yet, the “Beauty in Real Life” campaign which initiated earlier this spring. All of the beauty promo imagery from this campaign was released with absolutely no retouching or digital manipulation of any kind to foster more realistic beauty standards. It also featured a diverse roster of “real” women (so no models or celebs) to give the campaign a more relatable feel.
If the BeautyIRL concept is a success for CVS, I think it will mark a definitive change in drugstore & other mass retail beauty shopping. If you read any article about the future of retail there are a few trends that always get discussed: enhanced experience, more product choice, and more personalization. Consumer expectations are shifting and we generally want more of our in-store shopping experience. CVS is attempting to answer to those needs with their new beauty initiatives. I’m excited to see what happens next!
What do you think about CVS’s beauty initiatives? Would you go into a BeautyIRL space if it was in your local CVS? I’d love to know!