The Interview: Superdrug's Head of Own Brand on the success of its fastest growing category
Value and accessibility have always played an important role at Superdrug. Amongst other initiatives such as Superdrug Marketplace and various price freezes, this is evident through the retailer's growing own brand offering.
Currently the fastest growing category at Superdrug, own brand has become increasingly popular with consumers - especially during the cost-of-living crisis as more and more shoppers are opting for cheaper alternatives to cut costs.
In fact, two in three Superdrug Health & Beauty Card members are now shopping own brand in-store and online. With this rising demand for own brand, which is expected to continue, Superdrug is taking full advantage.
In this interview with TheIndustry.beauty, Emma Monaghan, Head of Own Brand & Exclusives at Superdrug, speaks about the success of its own brand range, the importance of creating high quality products at an affordable price, and how Superdrug educates its staff and consumers on the benefits of own brand.
Monaghan has served as Head of Own Brand & Exclusives at Superdrug since June 2022. Under her leadership, the retailer's selection of own brand products has continued to grow.
Its offering spans a variety of categories across health and beauty, helping customers to access a wide range of products at an affordable price. This includes a general own brand range, as well as sub-brands such as B. By Superdrug, Me + and Superdrug Extracts, amongst others.
When questioning Monaghan about the most popular own brand category at Superdrug, she had one clear answer.... skincare. "Skincare is absolutely our best performing category at the moment and has been for quite a while now. I think this is because people are so focused on their skin and are keen to try new things," she says.
However, skincare isn't the only category performing well. In November 2022, the retailer launched a trend-led cosmetics brand, called Studio London. This range, which features products priced under £9, has quickly become the fastest selling new cosmetics range at Superdrug.
With products for the eyes, lips and face, Studio London promises to "deliver the latest colour trends and premium performance products that won't cost the Earth". It is also responsibly designed, with 75% of the products containing post consumer recycled materials. "Studio London has got off to a flying start. In particular, products like our Setting Mist and Lip Oils are selling really well. We worked hard on this range and can't wait to see it further develop," emphasises Monaghan.
Looking ahead, with lots in the pipeline, Monaghan also hinted at a few upcoming product launches, including a supersized version of the retailer's bestselling B. Melting Cleansing Balm, as well as newness from Studio London later in the year.
Whether its skincare, makeup or any other category under Superdrug's own brand umbrella, quality assurance is always very important. As part of this, the retailer focuses a lot on formulation to create its high quality, low price offering. "Everyone deserves to have access to good quality products at an accessible price. This is something Superdrug has always been about.
"We are selective in what ingredients we use. This allows us to offer the best price with the best efficacy. We also work with our suppliers to ensure that our products are benchmarked against what's already on the market. Setting prices can vary massively - some ingredients are expensive, some are not. However, we always make sure that everything we add into a product is there for a reason. We're happy to go head-to-head with existing high-end products because we know that we're as good as them," comments Monaghan.
Superdrug has also worked hard to educate both its staff and customers about the benefits of own brand, helping to demystify the misconception that own brand means lesser quality. As part of this, the retailer encourages its team members to learn more about the category via various initiatives, including conferences and an internal platform called 'The Hub'.
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For its customers, Superdrug uses its social media, blog channel and internal radio to showcase the own brand range. "Over the last few years, we've really tried to show customers the work that goes into our own brand collections. We've always championed great quality, but we're now really emphasising this and showing that our products are affordable but do not compromise on quality," says Monaghan.
As as result of its growing own brand offering and the education around it, Superdrug is receiving a positive response from its customers. This not only improves sales across the retailer's stores and website, but also helps to further develop the range.
"The feedback we get is very good. Obviously, there's some times when a customer may not like a product and we try to address this, but generally it's very positive across the board. This is helped by all the testing we do, which sees all our products go through independent user trials. This could be anything from customers looking at packaging to trying product formulations. As part of this, we try to use as many data sources as we can to make sure whatever we bring to market will be a success.
"We also have a 100% happiness guarantee. This means if a customer doesn't love the product, they can bring it back and get a refund. So, it's totally risk free to try own brand at Superdrug and this is something we are proud of," emphasises Monaghan.