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News : Customer Engagement is Key to Watsons’ Triumph
April 25, 2014 -- Health and beauty retailer Watsons Personal Care Philippines has been consistently posting double-digit growth in the past few years. Viki Encarnacion, Watsons marketing director, attributes it to expansion in emerging markets, more brand awareness and increased consumer spending.
As of last count, there are 370 Watsons stores in the Philippines. Encarnacion says in store openings in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, locals welcomed the entry of a foreign chain such as Watsons. "The people appreciate brand, quality and affordability."
This year, the company is targeting 45 new stores in the provinces including Boracay.
"There’s been a boom in the beauty industry which includes skin care, hair treatments and cosmetics. In the health business, we carry more medicines. People go to Watsons if they can’t find their prescription medicines in other stores. You’ll have more chances of finding what you’re looking for here."
When people shop with a purpose, they end up purchasing other things on impulse. This inspired Watsons to come up with its new tagline "Always More: More Ways to Look Good and Feel Great."
"We always speak to our customers. They say that every time they come to the store, they find something interesting and end up buying it. ‘Always More’ reflects what they’ve been telling us," says Encarnacion.
While most healthy and beauty retailers in the Philippines emphasize value-added or value for money to attract the emerging market, Watsons equally focuses on establishing relationships with its customers. Here are some factors that have contributed to its success:
Predicting shopper behavior. The store analyzes shopper trends. Health consciousness is rising, together with the customers’ desire to improve their looks. Encarnacion points out the popularity of whitening ingestives. In Watsons, the top three brands are Met, Mosbeau and Belo despite their premium pricing.
Another reason for the increased consumption of supplements for preventive maintenance and beauty products is the expanding market base of males or metrosexuals and teens. Health and grooming products for men are flourishing. Encarnacion says shaving cream, shavers and grooming products driving the sales in the men’s section.
Encarnacion adds that the chain is finding ways to make supplements and maintenance medicines more accessible to the lower classes.
Every summer, the sales of sun protection creams expectedly peak until Holy Week then it hits a plateau. Encarnacion notes the growing demand for hair treatments.
In view of this trend, Watsons always holds an annual activity for participants to take up workouts, get beauty consultations and visit skin-care booths.
Maximizing the store experience. The renovations in Watsons have resulted in a streamlined design for a contemporary feel and more organized and accessible shelving for easier navigation. The chain has made generic and branded medicines more accessible to a wider market.
"If you’re shopping and suddenly you don’t feel well, you can have your blood pressure checked at the pharmacy. We also offer free bone scanning and monitoring of sugar," says Encarnacion.
To make the shopping experience more personalized, a customer service assistant goes around the store to welcome shoppers and offer some help.
Helping customers make the right choice. The shopping experience focuses on educating the customer rather than just pushing a product.
The pharmacist can address inquiries about health concerns. "If you’ve caught a cold, you are given an option of trying the leading brand or go generics for something less expensive. The customer makes an informed choice," says Encarnacion.
Likewise, there are beauty advisers who teach customers how to apply liquid eye liner; make eyes look bigger or recommend the right product for a skin problem. "Not many people know about serums for wrinkles. They think that using a moisturizer is enough. So they end up buying more than what they are looking for. If their desired product is too expensive, we suggest more affordable alternatives. We carry products of different brands in various price positioning," says Encarnacion.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, April 30, 2014