Despite the growing number of natural personal care products now on the market, nearly half of your core customers’ shopping lists stop at food and beverage offerings, according to market research firm SPINS. And while some shoppers do purchase body care products such as soap or lotion from your aisles, natural skin care hasn’t experienced the same growth as the rest of the category.
Your store can help turn this around by convincing customers that natural products can be just as efficacious as those chemical-laden offerings sold in high-end beauty stores. How? Louisville, Colo.-based natural skin care company MyChelle Dermaceuticals is showing one retailer the answer.
For years, MyChelle Dermaceuticals used a dermatological skin imaging system called VISIA to test its products, which feature plant stem cells, peptides, fruit enzymes and other bioactive ingredients. The technology scans deep into the skin’s subsurface to provide valuable information about skin irregularities, wrinkles, pores,
UV spots and skin discolorations. By scanning people’s skin before and after the use of specific products, MyChelle is able to test and demonstrate the effectiveness of its offerings. Obviously such technology is essential during product formulation, but could its benefits be extended to help sell consumers on the MyChelle brand and even transform the shopping experience? It was this question that motivated Terry Tierney, MyChelle’s president and CEO, to bring VISIA to the retail environment.
A high-tech retail sale
In 2011, MyChelle began wholesaling the VISIA technology to Whole Foods Market. “[Tierney] saw the VISIA machine as an opportunity to engage with the consumer and create a strong partnership with the retailer,” says Kristine Carey, MyChelle vice president of marketing. The VISIA technology offers another major selling point, Carey notes: “Ultimately, it proves to consumers and retailers that the efficacy of our product is there.”
Currently, VISIA is utilized in 17 Whole Foods health and beauty departments. At a dermatologist’s office, a VISIA screening would cost about $200, but Whole Foods offers its customers free VISIA sessions, which include customized skin analysis, product recommendations and follow-up scans. (MyChelle assists Whole Foods with VISIA training at the store level.)
Enhancing the retail experience
Along with visually demonstrating why an individual might need specific skin care products and how those products can improve skin health and appearance over time, Carey says the VISIA technology plays another important role: It creates a more intimate feeling within the natural retail environment—one that a shopper might expect to find within a salon or department store. This, in turn, encourages consumers to spend more time in the aisles looking for those products that will fit their specific needs.
By offering follow-up VISIA scans, Whole Foods has been able to build customer loyalty within the natural beauty department and, of course, boost sales. Since rolling out the technology at the retail level, MyChelle has seen its sales grow by triple digits in the stores equipped with VISIA, Carey says.
Idea in action
Mike Rapport, Whole Body coordinator for Whole Foods Market’s Rocky Mountain region, is one retailer currently working with MyChelle’s VISIA system. At first, Rapport’s stores used an aesthetician who specialized in MyChelle products to administer customer scans. Over time, however, Rapport opted to switch to an independent contract aesthetician—whose role is funded by each brand included in the VISIA evaluations—to carry out the scanning process.
As for marketing the service, Whole Foods uses in-store education tools such as brochures and e-mail outreach to further educate existing Whole Body customers about VISIA and engage those shoppers who have never thought of Whole Foods as “a place to buy body care products,” says Rapport. “Customer satisfaction is key. If we do this right, we have a customer for life.”