Beauty gets a makeover at Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s, the second largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom, has opened Argos and Habitats outlets in its stores, leveraging acquisitions made two years ago of both chains to boost grocery sales. The store-in-store concept is proving a popular way to maximise the use of space and help drive footfall to larger stores. As the supermarket chain tries to fight back against discounters Aldi and Lidl with more services and non-food products, its outlets will look increasingly like department stores.

Sainsbury´s introduction of department store-style beauty aisles staffed with specialist assistants across 11 of its stores nationwide doesn’t come as a surprise. The health and beauty retailers are one of the fastest growing sectors in 2018 despite the prolonged doom and gloom on the UK high street, waning consumer confidence, restricted budgets and growing pressure on households. Although the online channel plays an important role in the path to purchase, store-based retailing remains key in beauty purchases, as it enables consumers to try and feel products before buying them.

Sainsbury´s will be doubling the size of its beauty offerings to up to 3,000 products, including brands such as Revlon, Essie, Tweezerman and Dr. PawPaw for the first time. Existing ranges from L’Oreal, Maybelline and Burt’s Bees will also get more space with branded areas like those found in shops like Boots. Also, by relaunching its Boutique makeup, Sainsbury´s is catering to an increasing demand by young shoppers for vegan-friendly products. In addition, perfume retailer, the Fragrance Shop, will be testing out concessions in two Sainsbury’s stores.

By trying to become an umbrella brand, Sainsbury´s is creating a “destination environment” to help make customers’ lives easier. Anything that increases dwell time is a bonus as the most important goal for retailers is to keep customers engaged, which can be weakened by  online channels and threatened by voice activated shopping devices. With the new addition of beauty aisles, Sainsbury’s strategy is to increase footfall and ultimately boost grocery sales rather than compete with drugstores.

Store closures like House of Fraser has created a crisis on the UK high street, but also an opportunity for supermarkets like Sainsbury to fill the gap. Even though premium/luxury brands still consider being listed in supermarkets beneath them as it does not reflect a premium shopping experience, when others struggle, opportunities are available for those who strive to be different and creative.