Shoppers Drug Mart to open flagship beautyBOUTIQUE in Downtown Vancouver

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Photo: Colin Arber



By: Miranda Sam, Founder and Editor of Style by Fire

Sources tell us that Shoppers Drug Mart will open a 4,100 square foot standalone flagship beautyBOUTIQUE in downtown Vancouver, next to the world’s second-largest Victoria’s Secret store. The street-level store will replace retailer ‘Off The Wall’ and will feature a Burrard Street frontage. It will compete with a new, massive Sephora store scheduled to open next winter on the 1000 block of Robson Street, only a couple hundred feet away.  

Shoppers first debuted its high-end enhanced beautyBOUTIQUE concept last year at Toronto’s Bayview Village Shopping Centre; the second opened in the Toronto EatonCentre this past summer.

Downtown Vancouver has several major cosmetic retail competitors, including Sephora. In addition to its current location at Pacific Centre, Sephora will
also be opening one of its
largest Canadian locations on Robson Street in the winter of 2014. Other competitors have either been upping their game or preparing for their entry into the Vancouver market. Hudson’s Bay, for example, has
been putting much effort into the ongoing revitalization of its Downtown Vancouver flagship store. Its expanded cosmetics floor is close to an acre in size and is now the largest in Western North America. Holt Renfrew continues to show strong cosmetics sales, and future Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue stores will even further increase competition for Downtown Vancouver’s cosmetics dollar. 
With all of these different cosmetics retailers in Downtown Vancouver, it’s hard to say whether beautyBOUTIQUE will
create any extra excitement for Vancouver shoppers. Competition will be fierce. 
Shoppers Drug Mart
 already has an
existing higher-end concept, Murale, though it has shuttered two of eight locations
across Canada. Let’s take a look at the differences between Murale and the new
enhanced BeautyBoutiques, and how the new concept might prove successful.
[Image Source]

For those unfamiliar with Murale, it is an
offshoot brand launched in 2008 by Shoppers Drug Mart to move into the high-end
cosmetics category. Murale’s brands include Bobbi Brown, Anna Sui, Cargo,
Caudalie, Nars and more. These brands make a distinct differentiation between
drug store brands such as Maybelline and L’Oréal, but share some crossover
brands like Clinique and Stila. The store design is clean and minimal, with a
lot of white space, and merchandising isn’t structured in aisles as in the drug
store BeautyBoutiques.

Introduced in 2003, the in-store Shoppers Drug Mart beautyBOUTIQUE occupy prominent real estate, many of which have separate entrances to create a
different experience for cosmetics lovers. The South Granville location in
Vancouver, in particular, takes up the majority of the second floor of the neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart. 
[Image Source]

The new “enhanced” beautyBOUTIQUE takes the in-store
concept one step further by bringing in higher end brands (Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, for example) and
stepping up the store design, which was inspired by a gift box, and the unravelling
of a ribbon to reveal a gift. According to Shoppers, “The ribbon concept can be seen in the elements
of the store design including the digital signage wrapped around the boutique
and the finishing elements extending over the fixtures to the ceiling.”
 In a nutshell, it’s a Sephora-like experience.

If one high-end Shoppers beauty concept (Murale) didn’t
work out, why would the company repeat similar efforts? One reason could be
because a new store like Murale might have required stronger branding support
for customers to understand its relationship to Shoppers Drug Mart. On the other hand,
the new high-end beauty concept is also located separately from Shoppers, and it
was a great idea to leverage off the existing 
beautyBOUTIQUE name instead of
creating a whole new brand like Murale, even though the 
beautyBOUTIQUE brand
seems strong enough on its own. According to Sandra Sanderson, Senior Vice President of Marketing
at Shoppers, in a
Chain Drug Review
article, when consumers heard about 
beautyBOUTIQUE they already had the impression it was a separate store. We
don’t know whether they had done similar research with Murale.
[Image Source]

There’s also a direct correlation between
Shoppers’ 
beautyBOUTIQUEs and its popular Shoppers Optimum rewards program. This may be a key difference between it and Murale. If consumers didn’t know Murale was a Shoppers concept, for example, there would
have been less incentive to shop there. This is especially the case since Sephora
has a strong Beauty Insiders loyalty program. Lastly, we’ll have to see whether
the new enhanced 
beautyBOUTIQUE will help drive online sales, as Amazon,
Walmart, and Sephora’s e-commerce platforms are highly competitive whereas cosmetics sold at Shoppers Drug Mart concepts rely heavily on foot traffic. 

If the enhanced concept proves successful, it
might be in Shoppers’ best interest to shutter the Murale chain and concentrate
on what’s working. Either way, it will be interesting to see another beauty
giant enter Downtown Vancouver’s retail landscape.



**********
Miranda Sam is the founder and editor of Style by Fire, the source for Vancouver fashion events and retail news. She is also a marketing professional who has more than 5 years of experience working in fashion marketing, retail management, social media and fashion blogging.


She holds a Bachelors of Commerce from UBC with a focus on marketing and a Sustainable Business Leadership certificate from BCIT. 

Connect with Miranda on Twitter via @stylebyfire 



[Shoppers Drug Mart beautyBOUTIQUE website]

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