Boots is sitting pretty when it comes to home grooming

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Boots needs to be technologically clever to keep its position as the UK’s top beauty retailer.

Boots ranks as the UK’s number one beauty retailer in last week’s Trends feature on exclusive Kantar Worldwide research, and I like to think that in many ways this is because of me.

Well people like me, anyway. In my quest to save money by performing as many of my grooming and beauty treatments at home as possible, I end up racking up Advantage card points quicker than you can say “home waxing kit”. My bathroom shelf even looks like an aisle straight out of a Boots store.

Boots is the beauty retail equivalent of the self help section of a bookshop. The beauty of Boots is not only equipping yourself with home hair dyes and clay facial masks that cost a fraction of the same treatment in a salon, but discovering things you didn’t know you needed. Like specialised waxing products for your upper lip, sticker fingernails, thin and thick tweezers, portable hair straighteners, vitamins to keep you alert and herbal products to help you sleep.

I even turned to Boots when I decided to try my hand at cutting my own hair and was spoiled for choice in terms of “professional home hair care tools”. Who knew I needed scissors and a trimmer, a round brush and a flat brush, a thin comb and a thick comb?

It might sound like I am defeating my original mission of saving money by purchasing so many add on items (which Boots obviously encourages you to do through strategic product placing and three for two offers that entice even when you want just one item). But if you think about the products in a cost per use sense, it still works out cheaper than a lifetime of visits to a salon, and Boots is definitely cashing in on this new way of thinking.

It’s no wonder then that Boots not only topped the Kantar survey I mentioned, but recently reported a 14% yearly increase in profits to over £1 billion.

Especially when, as the feature on Kantar research says, spending on premium beauty products is up 11% year on year, something of which Boots is supplying more and more to cater for people in the market like me, who are trading down from spa treatments to home products that still give a quality result. As Sharon Scott from Champneys comments, the brand switched its exclusive stockists of its home spa products from Sainsbury’s to Boots, recognising the retailer’s appeal to home groomers.

But could Superdrug’s new reinvention strategy, heralded by its recent rollout of 10 fashion-led concept stores, see it creep up from its 5th position in Kantar’s ranking and take Boots’ top place?

To me Superdrug has always been the less cool cousin to Boots and I have always been put off by its cheap teenage feel. Having said that, I thought the same of make up brand Maybelline, preferring instead to splash out on Max Factor – until I attended a pop up Maybelline store last year and was impressed by the brand’s attempts to premiumise its range through new packaging and product lines.

Perhaps Superdrug could turn a similar about face and give Boots the real run for its money it has been attempting to for years. That’s why Boots’ mobile and digital investments, outlined here, are so important. So I can keep getting my Advantage points, at least.

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