Return On Relationships - Fuels Priceline Pharmacy’s Success

July 25, 2017

Return On Relationships - Fuels Priceline Pharmacy’s Success

By Elisabeth King

In beauty care and cosmetics, the customer experience is crucial, where brands come to life and where the seeds of loyalty are nurtured. Priceline Pharmacy, Australia’s leading health and beauty retailer, has led the way in enhancing beauty shopping in pharmacies. Over the past 10 years, reports Roy Morgan Research, pharmacies have become the number one power player in Australian beauty retailing, increasing market share from 15.1 per cent to 19.1 per cent.

Priceline Pharmacy’s strategy of ‘going big’ in beauty through free personalised consultations with resident beauty advisors, a beauty-focused Instagram feed and the Beauty School section on its website has yielded impressive results. According to Roy Morgan, over 840,000 women make a beauty purchase in a Priceline or Priceline Pharmacy store somewhere in Australia in an average six month period.

Every beauty retailer is chasing Millennials, who have a disproportionately high level of purchasing in the makeup category. Young women in the cashed-up, socially active Metrotech community are more likely to buy cosmetics from Priceline Pharmacy than any other demographic, reveals Roy Morgan, because of its fun-filled beauty experience and personalisation in an open-sell environment. 

Beauty Advisors Among Greatest Assets

Priceline Pharmacy is unique, says Liz Webster, General Manager - Merchandise for Priceline. Formerly Group General Manager, Cosmetics, Concessions, Footwear and Accessories for Myer, few executives know better that the dynamics of the beauty marketplace have changed dramatically in recent years, with the steady erosion of hard-and-fast distinctions between class and mass from product formulas to retail merchandising.

Our 600 BAs are among our greatest assets, says Webster. “They are brand neutral and have a real commitment to service. They have a high level of engagement with our customers because they are all fully trained and use their skills to connect, understand and assist with all customers. We continuously give them the education, training and the resources they need to give meaningful advice and make authentic recommendations”.

Newness drives everything in the beauty category, says Webster. “But our BAs have the equity of pharmacy behind them as trusted advisors and education specialists. Especially for younger customers, pharmacies incorporate an on-trend attitude in an accessible environment with an emphasis on wellness. Younger customers are very educated and they are looking for holistic beauty solutions across the board from their skin to their hair and nails. They are ‘research before you buy’ shoppers, often using their smartphones in-store”.

Loyalty is Paramount

Australians love loyalty programs and 71 per cent of the population are members of at least one loyalty program, says Roy Morgan Research. Priceline Pharmacy’s Sister Club is one of the most successful loyalty programs in the country – and the biggest health and beauty loyalty program. Nearly one in four Australians - 18 per cent - belong to the Priceline Sister Club and 55.9 per cent of Priceline customers are members, reveals the researcher.

We have 6.7 million members, says Webster. “Earlier this year, we introduced greater benefits, savings and rewards. There are now three levels of membership - Sister, Diamond Member and Pink Diamond Member. There are Secret Sister sales, birthday rewards and members can earn points in-store or online. Success with loyalty programs like the Sister Club encourage return visits and nurture a long term relationship with customers”.

Delivering A Better Beauty Experience

I have a passion for beauty, says Maria Bravo, a Beauty Advisor who works at the Priceline Pharmacy store in Wetherill Park in Sydney. She has played a key role in helping customers to really improve their look and was one of only 25 Priceline BAs from around the country chosen to work at this year’s Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) in March. She reveals how her role is inextricably linked to the wider team:

“People open up to pharmacists about the effects of chemotherapy or medications on their skin”, says Bravo. “They are then introduced to a relevant beauty advisor. We are trained to use a proper line of questioning. We ask about symptoms, what products the customer is currently using and guide them towards effective solutions. If someone asks for a nail hardener, for example, we don’t just reach for a product. We take the time to discover whether the condition of their nails is caused by a health or diet issue”.

Bravo has a strong connection with customers. “The beauty and healthcare market is constantly changing, so we have some sort of training session every second week. But I do a lot of research myself, checking out the latest products and medical advances. Priceline Pharmacy really encourages you to expand your parameters”.

Pharmacies have always been a go-to for skincare solutions to treat conditions such as eczema and acne, but people also come to Priceline for effective anti-ageing and radiance/brightening products, says Bravo. “For example, I recently helped a customer in her 50s. She had been using a Vitamin C-based product and a chemical exfoliant, but wanted to know if she should be trying something else. I told her about the anti-ageing and firming actions of retinol and peptides and their benefits on the skin. Helping customers to navigate a wide range of health, wellness and skincare products to meet their needs is one of the most important aspects of my job”.

Priceline Pharmacy has also built up a formidable track record in offering the latest beauty trends and products, making sure that beauty sections really pop for customers when they walk in. Trend-savvy customers really love the fact that Priceline Pharmacy was the official hair and beauty partner for the 2017 VAMFF fashion festival, says Bravo.

“It’s a great event for spreading the word that Priceline Pharmacy is a major beauty destination for everything fresh and exciting. There were VIP tickets for Priceline Pharmacy customers, makeovers and they could meet Rae Morris, Priceline’s Makeup Director, who is widely thought of as the most influential makeup artist in Australia.” The last word goes to Liz Webster. “Success for me means that when a customer thinks of beauty, her first thought is Priceline Pharmacy”. 

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