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30 Jul

Gwennaëlle Varnier of Shopper’s Drug Mart – WWD

TORONTO — Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart has long been in people’s each day lives and popular culture. Drake even shot a part of his music video “Began From the Bottom” in an Ontario store and last 12 months launched his candles exclusively on the drug store chain, which is a component of Loblaw Cos.

It has also through the years been gaining market share within the prestige beauty sector, which has only ramped up with the appointment of Gwennaëlle Varnier as vice chairman of prestige beauty in 2019.

Here, Varnier, who hails from France and has experience at Teoxane Laboratories, Clarins Group and Dufry Group amongst others, talks to Beauty Inc about all the things prestige beauty at Shoppers Drug Mart, which has greater than 1,300 stores (and is generally known as Pharmaprix in Quebec) across Canada, including greater than 400 in-store, high-end Beauty Boutiques.

Has prestige beauty all the time been a vital a part of the corporate?

Gwennaëlle Varnier: It’s a business that’s growing double digits 12 months on 12 months — not less than since I arrived in 2019 — with a bit decelerate in 2020.

What changes have you ever made in prestige beauty because you joined?

G.V.: The very first thing we worked on was the branding of Shopper’s Drug Mart by way of beauty. For me, Shoppers was a banner for drug store, but didn’t necessarily convey anything when talking about beauty. We worked with an out of doors agency that helped us placed on paper what we wish to face for and what’s our promise to the shopper by way of beauty. We do see that we’re here within the life cycle of most Canadians. They begin moving into a Shoppers once they are kids and once they are sick with their mom they usually go across the aisles and encounter products. For them it’s a sort of “Alice in Wonderland.” So the concept is how will we construct on that, and we do think that we’re beauty for all times because we’re here every step of life. So, quite a lot of work on the branding to position us available in the market.

What changes have you ever made by way of categories?

G.V.: Skincare is a giant piece, but there have been another pieces that we didn’t tackle. We were non-existent in hair, it was mostly mass. For me talking about skin and hair is identical thing, because we speak about skinification. We realize it’s a growing category so we launched the prestige hair category this 12 months with about nine brands, including Virtue and Pattern. Some are online only, some are in store. We’ve launched in 125 stores. It’s only the start. We also went into ingestibles with Imaraïs Beauty, which is a Canadian ingestible product. 

Tell me more about ingestibles.

G.V.: We would like to pursue this, but we’ve got quite a lot of difficulties with Health Canada and the compliance that’s asked is difficult. Brands normally launch in Europe or the U.S. first then come to Canada in order that’s definitely something we’re seeking to proceed.

What about skincare launches?

G.V.: We just launched Kiehl’s in stores. We realize it’s also going to do well online. We do think it’s a brand that talks to each men and ladies. Now we have greater than 75 percent of the lads’s market. We all know we’ve got that customer. We’re hoping that they will probably be really thrilled to search out that brand in our stores.  

Within the U.S., fragrance has been booming. Is that your experience in Canada?

G.V.: Yes, it’s the exact same. It’s been double digits because the summer of 2020. It’s not slowing down. There’s really a giant, big appetite for fragrances. Firstly the sensation was that it was because travel retail was closed. But now all the things has reopened. What I’m seeing is that it’s the generation that used to purchase makeup and were so enthusiastic about it. Now they’ve moved to fragrances. We speak about fragrance wardrobe — people having multiple fragrance — and likewise the client being younger.

What’s happening in color cosmetics?

G.V.: It’s continuing to boom since we took the masks off. Lip is doing very, thoroughly and we’ve got Kylie Cosmetics exclusive to us and we know the way good she is together with her lip kits so every time she has a drop with that collection, we do extremely well. We’re the one retailer that has Chanel Beauty and Dior also does very well.

Is there much of a marketplace for Canadian brands across any of those categories?

G.V.: We’re looking for Canadian brands. We’re promoting them. Now we have this brand called Evio, which is amazing. The founder was actually in a shelter and developed her brand from the shelter. She had undergone domestic violence and decided to search out a way out and developed her brand. She has a really strong story behind it. Definitely we wish to assist and develop Canadian brands.

How does the Canadian market differ to others?

G.V.: It’s the population of California, however the country may be very big so obviously you may’t expect to do the identical sales that you just would within the U.S. There’s 10 provinces so every one may be very different due to where it’s situated geographically, but in addition due to the demographic. For instance, when you take a look at Ontario, 80 percent of the population are immigrants so you’ve to take that into consideration and there’s a big South Asian community, for instance, who’re very keen on makeup and it’s all about ceremonies and parties. If you take a look at British Columbia, there are more Chinese they usually are very about skincare, long routines, so here’s a very different  customer. You might want to take note of all those different points. I all the time say Canada is 10 countries in a single. You can’t think that it’s an additional state of the U.S. For those who include that in mind you’re going to fail. It’s far more complex.

Also, you’ve Health Canada and the twin language so there’s quite a lot of boundaries for a brand to return to Canada and that’s why there are some distributors here to assist bring those brands which might be possibly small.

What sort of perception of Canada do U.S. brands are inclined to have?

G.V.: Sometimes their benchmark is Ulta. For those who take a look at our concept, we’re very close. Now we have mass and prestige in the identical stores, we’re in secondary locations, we’ve got an enormous numbers of doors. I believe sometimes they’re like, “OK, I’m doing that with Ulta. I can do the identical with Shoppers.” We don’t have the identical population so it’s educating them to grasp that it’s not going to be the identical and it doesn’t work the identical. Copy pasting what happens within the U.S. doesn’t work and might be offensive sometimes.

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