When architect Shamcey Supsup was training for the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant at the Araneta Center, she and the other contestants would run to Watsons at Gateway Mall to replenish their makeup or buy plasters for their blistered ankles. For her soft tresses, Supsup also swears by the Babyliss curling iron which she bought from the store.
Brazilian model Fatima Rabago and her three-year-old daughter Daniela can shop at Watsons for their personal care products without the guilt.
Watsons endorser Venus Raj takes care of the medical needs of her 62-year-old mother, Ester. Raj gets them the medicines from Watsons’ pharmacy including generic drugs for Ester’s high blood pressure. Likewise, Raj and her best friend, beauty queen Marie Ann Umali, like to hit the makeup and skin-care zones at Watsons to road test the products. They like the personalized approach of con ferring with beauty consultants.
“They are mirroring what we see happening in the stores,” says Victoria Encarnacion, Watsons Philippines’ marketing director. Watsons’ new batch of endorsers reflects the profile and habits of its consumers. Some 70 percent of women do discretionary purchases. Some 60 percent of Watsons sales comes from beauty and personal care products while 40 percent comes from medicines and supplements.
“We discovered that the girls, who shop in our store, come in groups. They consult each other. It becomes bonding moments,” says Encarnacion.
Tailoring products and messages to women to boost sales is nothing new in the Philippines where women have the purchasing clout. Likewise, the use of models and beauty queens in Watsons’ new marketing campaign, “More Value, More Life” focuses on the female of Generation Y.
This is all part of Watsons’ first global initiative of its “brand refresh.” For the second consecutive year, Watsons has been voted as Asia’s No. 1 pharmacy and drugstore in Campaign Asia-Pacific’s Asia’s Top 1000 brands survey.
“Because of that, we felt we have to do something even more to become even more engaging to our customers. That is why we decided to do brand refresh,” says Encarnacion.
Watsons Philippines is a joint venture between SM Prime and Hong Kong’s A.S. Watson & Co. Ltd. of the Hutchison Whampoa Group. All the 3,200 outlets in Watsons’ Asian and European market are revitalizing its communication image with its new logo and softer typefaces that appeal to its consumers. Many stores will undergo renovations to enhance the layout and make the divisions more accessible to the customers. The staffers will be donning new uniforms for a polished look.
“They will undergo training to become effective counselors of beauty and health,” adds Encarnacion. The one-to-one marketing appeals to the female consumer.
The campaign “More Value, More Life,” capitalizes on Watsons’ strength. “Shoppers say they come to Watsons to buy one thing but because the products are cheap, they end up buying other interesting things. The message in our campaign is that because you come to Watsons, you get more value for what you buy and you end up enjoying your life better.”
Watsons’ largely female market consists of millennials, naturally, aged 20 to 45. “They see shopping as therapy. Even if they don’t buy, they walk around Watsons to discover new things. They like experimenting. When they see a new brand, they want to try it. They like to get samples. Many make informed choices. Before they shop, they research online to make their final decisions,” says Encarnacion.
The Watsons’ executive cites that supplements, particularly whitening brands such as Cosmo Skin, Belo Essentials and Met-Tathione, are the most popular despite their four-figure price.
“We have many brands available to choose from. The customers see Watsons as the main source for supplements, says Encarnacion. “In terms of volume, it’s still the personal care products because of their wide appeal,” she says.
Aside from the fact that female consumers are more loyal if they like a brand, companies such as Watsons makes an appeal to women because they share their information or make product recommendations more than men. For instance, when the press would ask beauty queens about their beauty essentials or what’s in their purse, chances are the products are in Watsons’ shelves.
The “More Value, More Life!” strategy acknowledges that the customer has to be treated well. It offers high-quality Watsons labels at affordable prices; more perks for SM shopping members and freebies such as gifts with purchases, free makeovers and health checkups.
With 11 percent growth in sales last year, Watsons continues to be bullish with 40 new stores in 2013. The growth is not just attributing to the opening of 47 branches in 2012.
“The existing stores were delivering,” says Encarnacion. She cites that Watsons at SM North Edsa is still the most profitable because of the balance of the weekday transient market and the family market on weekends.
“The growth came from increased consumption and getting market shares. We did a lot on the health business. People are finding out we sell a good range of medicines. People who used to shop for beauty realize that they can buy their medicines in the same store. They end up increasing their basket size,” says Encarnacion.
In the past two years, Watsons partnered with United Laboratories to produce potent generic drugs for common ailments in the Philippines which were as much as 70 percent cheaper than the competing brands.
“We wanted to switch to more generic medicines so more people could afford buying quality medicines. Our generic medicine line, manufactured by a good company, helped recruit customers,” she says.
“This campaign aims to create the awareness that we are both a retailer for health and beauty. You can’t be beautiful if you’re not healthy. The glow starts from within.”