French mass merchant Casino Group and L'Oréal France last week opened "le drugstore parisien,"a drug store concept in Paris designed to be an "urban store for beauty from within." The two locations are open seven days a week, and one day a month will open for 24 hours to offer Parisians exclusive events and well-being services.
The stores include assortments in beauty (including several L'Oréal brands), wellness and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, along with sewing kits, "fun accessories" and healthy snacks and treats, according to a press release from the companies.
They also have free Wi-Fi, mobile-phone charging points, water fountains, shoe-shining machines, sinks and dressing tables, dry cleaning, parcel pick-up points, light therapy areas, key exchange and one-hour delivery for certain products, among other amenities useful to urban dwellers, the companies said.
Despite their prominence in beauty sales in the U.S., drugstores here have mostly neglected their displays and assortments in the booming category.
Sephora and Ulta have stolen market share as a result. But while department stores like Macy's and mass merchants like Target have fought back with new beauty marketing and merchandising efforts, drugstores by and large have not.
CVS, which has in recent years put more attention on its medical care business rather than stores, recently made some efforts in marketing. GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders in a recent note lauded the drugstore retailer's "Beauty in Real Life "campaign, which features untouched photos of women wearing cosmetics, as "in line with the values of modern consumers, particularly younger ones."
But CVS' merchandising in the category is a drag, in Saunders' view. "The irony of putting out marketing about feeling beautiful and then presenting the customer with a jumbled assortment of cosmetics in a sterile carpet-tiled store illuminated by yellow-tinged light from aging fluorescent bulbs seems to be lost on CVS," he said.
Meanwhile, rival Walgreens isn't doing much better in the space, he also said, noting that that drugstore is making only "gentle progress in beauty."
Those retailers may want to make a trip to Paris to investigate how a drugstore can appeal to urban shoppers. As Casino Group Chairman Jean-Charles Naouri said in a statement last week, the new concept developed with L'Oreal shows that mass drugstore retailers are capable of creating "unique, original places in line with contemporary city lifestyles."