UPDATE: October 22, 2019: CVS on Tuesday announced that its BeautyIRL concept will be expanding to nearly 50 stores by the end of the year. The concept, which features beauty services by Glamsquad, has been piloted at four stores since last year and will launch in "key markets," including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Boston, according to a press release. As a result of the partnership, CVS also snagged an exclusive on GSQ by Glamsquad, a line of private label beauty products from the startup, which will be sold in those stores.
CVS Pharmacy is making changes to its beauty offerings at some stores, testing out a store-within-a-store concept called BeautyIRL at four locations, in Connecticut, Florida and Massachusetts, a company spokesperson confirmed to Retail Dive.
The BeautyIRL format is almost double the size of a usual beauty section at CVS, and will also feature 30 new brands, an accessories shop, a bath cart, a Test-and-Play Hygiene Bar with testers and brand boutiques, a Mini Must-Have boutique for customers to collect their own miniature beauty products, a #TrendingNow wall showcasing trendy brands and in-store beauty services through a partnership with Glamsquad, according to the company.
In a similar vein to the services found at Ulta and Sephora, CVS's BeautyIRL format will offer hair services, makeup services, lash application, face and eye masks, and manicures, in partnership with Glamsquad. CVS plans to expand the concept in 2019 and begin offering BeautyIRL products online then as well.
The local drugstore isn't the first place consumers go for cosmetics, but this latest move from CVS seems to be an attempt to change that. With retailers like Sephora and Ulta introducing experiential store concepts and offering services and lessons in stores, the competition in the sector is high and CVS's beauty store concept seems to feed directly off of what has made those specialty retailers so popular.
The retailer has made efforts to transform its beauty offerings in the past as well, including adding more premium brands last year, and launching the "Beauty in Real Life" campaign this April, which focused on more natural marketing and unaltered imagery. That campaign was an attempt by the retailer to align itself with "an authentic and more realistic image of beauty for its customers," according to a press release at the time. But the pharmacy retailer's most recent quarter revealed that its front-store sales continue to suffer, including in the beauty department.
Part of that is likely due to the larger shift CVS has made, away from retail and closer to healthcare, most noticeably through its planned acquisition of Aetna. The introduction of fresh store concepts, however, seems to display a re-commitment to the beauty market, much along the same lines as Walgreens' recent focus on enhanced beauty services at its stores.
CVS is not alone in trying to up its game in the beauty segment, though. Along with other drugstore retailers, department stores are also reimagining their beauty departments in light of the popularity of specialty stores. Both Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue announced changes to their beauty offerings in May, opting for more technology and services in their stores, a trend that mirrors the destination-driven experience of Sephora and Ulta.