Ulta Beauty Bets On The Interconnection Between Beauty And Wellness

Although building a wellness business hasn’t been the easiest task for beauty specialty retailers, Ulta Beauty is deepening its commitment to it.

In the chain’s earnings conference call for the quarter ended Oct. 29, it reported that it added 500 stores to The Wellness Shop, a dedicated wellness assortment it initiated in 2021 with 350 stores, to push it to over 1,330 of its 1,374 locations in the United States. It also beefed up The Wellness Shop’s product range with at-home spa tools from Luv Scrub, Solawave and Skin Gym and updated its displays. The revamped displays feature improved aesthetics, navigation and storytelling graphics.

During the call, CEO Dave Kimbell indicated that the intertwining of wellness and beauty is set to continue. He said, “Today, consumers are thinking differently about the role beauty can play in their wellness routine, which we believe will drive increased usage for the category…The connection between wellness and beauty that’s stronger than ever coming out of the pandemic [gives] us confidence more broadly in beauty.”

Ulta Beauty has added 500 The Wellness Shop installations to push the wellness selection’s presence into over 1,330 of its 1,374 locations in the United States. It also improved the aesthetics, navigation and storytelling graphics of The Wellness Shop displays.

Penny Coy, VP for skincare, sun care, fragrance and bath at Ulta, underscores that Ulta’s shoppers are “increasingly prioritizing self-care and holistic wellbeing.” She says, “Our guest is on a journey [of] taking care of oneself and having a really positive inner voice about yourself and perception of yourself. We want to very much be a part of that. Ulta Beauty will continue to listen intently to our guests and provide products and innovation to continue their wellness journey.”

The Wellness Shop spans six product categories—Everyday Care, Down There Care, Supplements & Ingestibles, Relax & Renew, Spa at Home and Intimate Wellness—in redesigned 8-foot wall displays in stores and contains new 4-foot gondolas and aisle endcaps. The displays have educational touchpoints like category signage to inform and guide consumers. The Wellness Shop products are being integrated throughout Ulta stores in areas like skincare, body care and bath, too.

In June, Ulta informed Beauty Independent that The Wellness Shop contains over 700 stockkeeping units from 140 brands encompassing its online and offline presentation. Among the brands are Goli, Teami, BeautyBio, Golde, The Good Patch, Olly and Home Body. Ulta divulges that, overwhelmingly, Everyday Care and Down There Care are the most engaged merchandise pillars at The Wellness Shop, followed by Spa at Home and Intimate Wellness.

The Wellness Shop has at least six intimate care brands: Womaness, Sweet Spot Labs, Foria, Blume, Love Wellness and Fur. Additionally, it has sex-centric supplements like Moon Juice’s Sex Dust and Lemme’s Lemme Purr gummies. Coy says the retailer has expanded its intimate wellness offerings 15% year-over-year since introducing the category in 2022 and has seen “strong interest” in them. 

“We want to be a part of the destigmatization of the conversation around intimate wellness that’s happening.” 

“We’ve seen several high-growth categories within Down There Care. It continues to be very strong and a growth segment for us, right behind what we term ‘Everyday Care,'” shares Coy, adding that the response to Ulta bringing products like vaginal suppositories and vulva moisturizers into its stores in a big way has been “very positive.” She says, “We want to be a part of the destigmatization of the conversation around intimate wellness that’s happening.” 

Older millennial, gen X and baby boomer consumers are important wellness shoppers at Ulta, although it points out that shoppers gravitating to intimate care skew slightly younger. Coy says, “Younger guest favorites include brands across the Down There Care and Intimate Wellness segments such as Megababe, Love Wellness, Blume, Smilemakers and Unbound, while gen X and boomers typically shop higher price point tools and devices across Relax & Renew and Spa at Home categories.” 

Increased product information provided on The Wellness Shop displays via educational panels and increased store training for staff may pave the way for items long considered provocative like vibrators entering physical stores. In 2022, timed with Womaness’s Menopositivity tour, the brand held events at Ulta stores in California, Texas and Illinois that raised consumer and staff awareness.

“Empowering store associates with tools to help guide the guests through wellness is very, very important,” says Coy. “We have daily micro trainings. We also have our wonderful brands in stores helping us educate not only our store associates, but also our guests.” 

Menopause-focused brand Womaness is among at least six intimate care brands in The Wellness Shop’s assortment. Others include Sweet Spot Labs, Foria, Blume, Love Wellness and Fur.

While Ulta doesn’t break out sales for wellness specifically, in its quarterly earnings call, Kimbell shared that the chain notched double-digit sales growth in skincare and fragrance and bath, the closest proxies for The Wellness Shop assortment.

Overall, for the third quarter, net sales rose to $2.49 billion from $2.34 billion in the year-ago period, and net income rose to $249.5 million from $274.6 in the year-ago period. Comparable store sales jumped 4.5%. For the fiscal year, Ulta expects sales to land at between $11.1 billion and $11.5 billion. It expects comp-store sales to advance between 5% and 5.5%.