Walgreens and Birchbox Partner to Expand Reach of Premium Beauty Brands
Premium beauty brands will soon be available in select Walgreens stores and online.
In an unlikely partnership, Walgreens and Birchbox are teaming up to offer retail beauty experiences to customers in-store and online. In addition to buying a minority interest in Birchbox, the partnership will help Walgreens bring premium beauty brands to the store, so customers can try before they buy. Initially, 11 Walgreens stores in major U.S. cities will feature Birchbox, starting in December.
“This is an exciting time for beauty at Walgreens,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of operations, in a news release. “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. This collaboration will help enable Walgreens to continue to strengthen our beauty offering and build our prestige portfolio.”
Birchbox will have dedicated space inside Walgreens stores and feature full-sized hair, skin and makeup products from more than 40 brands as well as Birchbox beauty consultants to help customers with sampling and purchase of products.
“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, CEO and cofounder of Birchbox.
“Birchbox has effectively changed the relationship that this customer, who represents 70 percent of the market, has with beauty and increased her spend in the category. Walgreens is deeply committed to beauty and shares our vision for a different type of retail experience – one that is holistic, seamless and designed to help shoppers make informed, confident decisions. Together we will continue to evolve the integration of our physical and digital shopping experiences,” Beauchamp added.
Through select Walgreens stores, Birchbox will sell subscriptions to its monthly beauty subscription box service which contains samples of popular beauty brands that are tailored to a subscriber’s tastes and preferences. Birchbox will also offer its “Build Your Own Birchbox” (BYOB) experience to interested customers.
Walgreens is one of the country’s largest drugstore chains with 8 million in-store and online customers and 9,800 drugstores in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Founded in 2010, Birchbox services 2.5 million customers in six countries. The monthly beauty box service and its stores in New York City and Paris offer products from 500 prestige beauty brands.
This seems like a great deal for Walgreens – getting ownership in a popular beauty box company and bringing its premium beauty brands into the store and online for its customers. This partnership makes such products more accessible to consumers and helps Walgreens differentiate itself from competitors like CVS, Walmart and Target. Birchbox will undoubtedly get additional exposure, but is Walgreens the right fit for Birchbox’s target customer? Will this in any way diminish Birchbox’s prestige and reputation? Will the company lose subscribers because they can sample and buy products and Walgreens instead? Would Birchbox have benefited more from a partnership with a beauty company like Ulta or Sephora or a department store like Macy’s or Saks?