Target revamps beauty department

The mass market retailer is adding luxury products to its shelves.

by Melanie Richtman

After adding beauty consultants to stores in the summer of 2012, Target has been amping up its beauty department in order to compete with department stores and specialty retailers like Sephora.

This month, Target made some pretty bold changes to its beauty offerings, which will be appearing in 750 stores across the country.

Target is trying to make luxury skincare available to the masses, while also attempting to keep customers in the store for all of their wants and needs, rather than just basic necessities.

“Through our feedback from guests we realized that one of the things we were missing was higher-end skincare,” Target spokesman Evan Miller said. “While we were capturing guests for a lot of their shopping needs, some of our guests were leaving to purchase higher-end skincare products.”

Instead of only offering basic skincare brands, like Olay or Neutrogena, Target is now featuring several luxury skin care brands — both foreign and domestic — in the department, which is separated into two different categories: dermatological skincare and specialty skincare.

Target has four exclusives from brands around the world, including Borghese, 29 by Lydia Mondavi; Korean line Laneige, which can only be purchased in the U.S. from Target; and MD Complete, a line from Minneapolis dermatologist Dr. Brian Zelickson, whose office is across the street from Target headquarters.

 “Target has been a great partner, which has allowed us to create high quality, prescription-grade products for a third of the cost,” Zelickson said.

 In addition to four exclusive brands, Target will be updating its skincare department with upscale brands often found in department stores and competing drugstores, including Vichy, La Roche-Posay (a well-known French skincare line) and Own Skin Health, which is an all natural brand based in San Francisco.

Target will be selling 140 new products each priced between $9 and $55, a more affordable price range for customers looking for nice products.

“For luxury products, the price point is really reasonable. The average price of a product is $13,” Miller said.

Additionally, Target has an advantage due to its large market share. Luxury products are sometimes available to consumers at lower price points at Target than they might be at other outlets. 

The overhaul of the beauty department will call attention to the changes made in the past for a more aesthetically pleasing section, similar to those of department stores, with bright lights and customizable layouts for different brands.

Some notable products to try are Laneige’s BB cushion, which transforms a BB cream (BB is short for beauty balm) into a compact, any La Roche-Posay sunscreen and 29 by Lydia Mondavi’s first crush lip scrub, a necessary product to smooth your lips before wearing lipstick.

For clear skin, MD Complete has prescription strength products.

“Our line for Target has two great products to treat acne prone skin: a breakout spot treatment for morning and a healthy skin accelerator for evening,” Zelickson said. “We have unique technology that allows us to combine multiple active ingredients, making them more effective.”

Beauty concierges are being placed in Target stores across the country to answer questions and help customers find the best products.

“The beauty concierges receive extensive training about the seven premium skincare brands,” Miller said. “They’re brand agnostic. They aren’t incentivized to push a specific brand, so they are truly giving you unbiased recommendations.”

Critics are questioning whether premier product offerings are a good idea for Target, who has previously offered upscale beauty brands Kiehl’s, Clarins and Origins with little success before the lines were pulled from shelves.

Only time will tell if Target’s new product offerings will be a hit this time around.