WEST WINDSOR, N.J. -- Wegmans Food Markets unveiled its latest formula for beauty retailing in a 109,000-square-foot store that opened here last month.
The new store is Wegmans' 59th, but the first in New Jersey for the Rochester, N.Y.-based chain. Absent in this store are service counters with beauty consultants that have been featured in other mass-market chains and even a few Wegmans. Primarily as a convenience, Wegmans stocks a pegged cosmetics department.
However, the color selection exceeds that of most food stores in the Northeast. For example, most area supermarkets carry only a smattering of Cover Girl and Maybelline. Wegmans' new store has a wide range, including L'Oreal, Revlon, Maybelline, Cover Girl, Oil of Olay, Neutrogena and Prestige. The retailer also targets young shoppers with a display of Parfums de Coeur's Body Fantasies and Bon Bons glitter, as well as an area where bright Caboodles makeup kits are merchandised with Markwins novelty nail colors packaged to look like lollipops. Bonne Bell beauty products are also stocked in the department.
The cosmetics department is highly visible, located in the center of the store near the 25 checkouts. The proximity to health and beauty care and the pharmacy helps show customers that it offers many of the amenities of a typical drug store.
Wegmans is also on top of new product launches. Revlon's new Liquid Lip was prominently displayed on an end-of-aisle fixture, as was L'Oreal's new HydraSoft lip color. The store even carries both the new Neutrogena lines and Oil of Olay. Across the street, at a Wal-Mart store, only Oil of Olay is featured. There was also a raffle for a basket of Revlon products during opening-week festivities.
Wegmans primarily carries cosmetics as a customer convenience, and that is evident in its pricing. With the exception of Vanilla Fields eau de toilette spray, Wegmans was substantially higher than nearby competitors, including Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart and Drug Emporium. Maybelline's Great Lash -- a staple in many women's handbags -- is priced at $5.70 at Wegmans, vs. a market low of $3.19 at Target. However, Target doesn't offer amenities to shoppers such as the on-premise child care center at Wegmans.
Rather than compete on price, Wegmans aims to have products no other retailers stock, and that was evident in two other beauty departments: its bath shop and a natural-products boutique called Nature's Marketplace.
Although other non-department store retailers have made a splash in bath, Wegmans has created one of the best departments in the mass industry, according to manufacturers. Located on the end of aisles near books and magazines and cooking items, the bath and body department features wicker baskets loaded with products. The predominant brand is Paris Present's Body Image with a full assortment of body massagers, gels and lotions. Elegant wood fixtures are decorated with ivy in the bath area, which also features St. Ives, Suave, Village Naturals, Sarah Michaels, Freeman, Sinclair & Valentine and The Healing Garden. A huge display touts an aromatherapy collection called AromaZone.
There's also a major emphasis on aromatherapy and natural beauty products in a department called Nature's Marketplace. It is here that Wegmans is seeking to take its beauty retailing to the next level. "Wegmans has to make its stores destination stores, and that's not typical in the grocery industry," said Neil Stern, food retail consultant for McMillan/Doolittle, Chicago. "To do that in beauty, they have to find unique products that give them an edge and make them different."
Located just behind the pharmacy, the Nature's Marketplace features natural foods such as pastas, as well as vitamins and supplements. A wall at the rear of the department is full of natural beauty products, including Kiss My Face, Jason, Matsuda, Desert Essence, Burt's Bees, Nature's Gate, Rachel Perry, Giovanni and a line that even created products especially for the store called La Beaute dans La Nature. For the grand opening, a representative for La Beaute was on hand to explain the assortment of essential oils and essences.
In total, there are more than 28 linear feet devoted to the natural beauty items, plus a service counter for the essential oils. The department was created for the Princeton area's well-educated clientele, who tend to be frequent shoppers of naturally positioned items. With the combination of traditionally mass market beauty items such as Revlon and the upscale natural items, Wegmans hopes to be a one-stop shopping choice for families.