Will the Birchbox/Walgreens pilot deliver beautiful results?
Walgreens has secured a minority investment in Birchbox and plans to pilot the monthly beauty subscription service in 11 of its stores.
Founded in 2010, Birchbox sends four or five samples of prestige and niche beauty and grooming brands to subscribers for $10 a month. Subscribers can then purchase full-size versions of the samples. A loyalty program offering $1 in points for every $10 spent helps drive the program.
The 11 in-store shops, ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet, will open in major U.S. cities starting this December through early 2019. They will showcase Birchbox branding and full-sized skincare, hair and makeup products from more than 40 prestige brands. Birchbox-trained Walgreens beauty consultants will be available to assist customers.
Birchbox will also offer subscriptions to monthly samples and a “Build Your Own Birchbox” experience (BYOB), a signature element of the service’s flagship stores in New York City and Paris. A curated Birchbox shop will also be introduced online.
Birchbox was the first subscription service to open a store, but has faced challenges from similar subscription upstarts, including Ipsy, Julep and Glossy Box as well as from Sephora, Walmart, Target and Allure magazine.
“In Walgreens, we have found an exciting partner that supports our mission of reaching an underserved customer who doesn’t prioritize beauty,” said Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox’s CEO in a statement.
For Walgreens, Birchbox secures additional high-end cosmetic brands, promises to help reach more Millennial women, adds an experiential element to the in-store experience and builds on recent efforts to elevate its beauty category.
Over the last two years, Walgreens has invested in remodels while adding new brands, in-store consultants and a beauty rewards programs to boost its beauty positioning. Along with pharmacy, beauty is seen as a major traffic driver for drug stores.
“Our customers want to shop the most sought-after brands in a welcoming and accessible environment, and the addition of Birchbox to our growing beauty offering is a big step in delivering on our promise to differentiate and elevate the beauty experience at Walgreens,” said Richard Ashworth, president of operations, Walgreens.
- Walgreens and Birchbox to Offer Customers Innovative Beauty Experience In-Store and Online – Walgreens
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does the Walgreens/Birchbox partnership make sense for both companies? Will the in-store Birchbox experience likely work in most Walgreens locations?