Natural mineral makeups have not only been ready for their close-ups for years, but they’ve also become bona fide stars at conventional cosmetics counters nationwide. So how can your store compete with Sephora, Nordstrom and Target, not to mention the relentless mineral makeup promotions that are aired almost 24/7 on TV shopping channels?
Surprisingly, quite well.
Although Nutrition Business Journal reports that U.S. consumer sales of natural and organic cosmetics—most of which are mineral based—dropped about 1 percent in 2010, compared to a 5 percent increase in 2009 and 10 percent growth in 2008, other data show this sales dip is not affecting natural products stores. In fact, natural cosmetics and beauty aids sales increased a stunning 18.2 percent in naturals stores between April 2010 and April 2011, according to Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS.
So who’s posting the less-than-glamorous sales figures? Conventional food, drug and mass merchandisers. SPINS reports that during the same time period, natural cosmetics sales plummeted 33.7 percent in conventional stores. The result is that natural makeup revenues are now almost identical across the two channels—$10.9 million in natural and $11.3 million in conventional.
While natural retailers don’t always have the space or resources to compete with department store makeup counters or drug store cosmetics sections, they can offer a unique approach that appeals to a broad cross section of shoppers. “We get some newbies who have heard about natural makeup and come in for more information, and we get dedicated natural shoppers,” says Shauna LaChapelle, aesthetician and manager of Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy’s Oakland, Calif., location. “There’s no overwhelming percentage of one or the other.”
Beautify your natural makeup sales with expert tips
Department stores offer a white-glove makeup shopping experience in a soothing atmosphere—something that a noisy, hurried grocery store can’t compete with, says Lynea Schultz-Ela, owner of A Natural Resource, a natural products consulting firm in Hotchkiss, Colo. But what a natural products store can offer is personalized education.
For instance, every other week, your store could host a spa night with facials and makeovers done by a local makeup artist and a vendor’s aesthetician. Charge $10 so people actually show up, Schultz-Ela suggests, but then give them a coupon for $10 off any in-store makeup purchase. “Each time, you’ll familiarize a dozen or so different women with these products, and you’ll appeal to your core customer bent on learning something,” she says.
Install a makeup counter
Pharmaca has an island within its personal care section where all the makeup is displayed. It serves as a magnet, drawing customers not only to the counter, but also to the entire section. “People see there are some fun colors there, and they want to come and play,” LaChapelle says. Apparently, this method works. According to Laura Coblentz, Pharmaca’s vice president of marketing and innovation, health and beauty aids are the chain’s second-largest retail category and generate double-digit yearly growth.
Even a small makeup counter within your personal care aisle can make a difference, says Kristine Carey, vice president of marketing for Louisville, Colo.-based MyChelle Dermaceuticals. “The consumer wants to step into that department and feel really special,” she says. “Makeup is about making you feel good.” Pharmaca’s makeup island is staffed by an aesthetician, but if your budget doesn’t allow for that, a knowledgeable employee can answer customer questions.
Know what to sample
Foundation and powder are the top sellers at Pharmaca, LaChapelle says, because “that’s the one thing that almost everybody uses daily.” Unlike with eye shadow or lipstick, sampling is so important to ensuring foundation and powder colors match skin tones that consumers are reluctant to buy without trying. Encourage customers to try foundation on the jawline so they can see how it interacts with the skin on the neck, which is usually lighter than the face, LaChapelle says.
Most cosmetics manufacturers sell makeup testers to retailers, Coblentz says, and a few companies, including Jane Iredale, provide entire sampling stations for their products.
Keep sample sections clean
Sephora stores have plenty of employees to keep their sampling stations pristine and hygienic, Schultz-Ela says. To do the same with a smaller staff, LaChapelle suggests you swap cotton swabs for eye shadow brushes, cut off the wands in mascara tubes and substitute disposable ones, and regularly clean powder and blush brushes. You can also supply swabs and rubbing alcohol so customers can wipe down lipsticks before trying. If you’re not always able to keep up with high traffic, the good news is that minerals are biologically inert, meaning they don’t harbor bacteria, LaChapelle says.
Stock different price points
Some natural makeup lines, such as Jane Iredale, are now sold in spas and have the prices to match. Steer customers who are leery of paying that kind of money in a grocery store toward lower-priced lines to familiarize them with the benefits of natural makeup. “In the last five or six years, mineral makeups have really boomed, and there is a lot of selection and a lot of new brands at different price points,” LaChapelle says. Schultz-Ela recommends retailers evenly divide stock among three price categories: good, better, best.