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Why Ulta Beauty Is Polishing Its Portfolio With a Wellness Boost

Ulta Beauty

Ulta Beauty is looking to give its retail therapy experience a wellness boost and has announced its plan to extend its in-store wellness areas to over 1,330 locations across the country. 

Named “The Wellness Shop,” and launched in 2021, these areas will feature a new, spa-inspired redesign, and will include additional informative elements within the displays to facilitate exploration, according to reports.  

Furthermore, Ulta is broadening its product range, introducing new brands and enhancing its selection of supplements, oral care, hydration and various other categories in partnership with existing brands. 

This decision comes at a time when existing wellness-focused retailers are also aiming to diversify their offerings, but with a unique twist — a shift toward healthcare. This week, GNC announced its plans to venture into the realm of virtual healthcare. 

“After years of research, it was clear how necessary supplemental virtual healthcare is for many consumers,”Allison Bentley, senior director of strategic programs at GNC Health told PYMNTS. “We know the U.S. healthcare system can be difficult to navigate, especially when dealing with high reliance on private insurance, and the need to see different specialists, who have more and more limited appointment availability, which makes the process even more complex. We took that into account and wanted to address it by offering an accessible and affordable solution for consumers across the nation.” 

According to Bentley, GNC’s virtual healthcare platform is designed to supplement existing healthcare coverage. GNC Health encompasses a wide range of treatment and care services, such as addressing allergies, asthma, sexual health, skin conditions, cold and flu, physical therapy, mental health therapy and psychiatry. 

She stated that a GNC Health membership provides access to virtual healthcare services and prescription medications, eliminating the need for health insurance. 

“We took the past couple years to conduct thoughtful research on what consumers were looking for to address their overall health and wellness, and we piloted solutions to address needs within the digital healthcare space,” Bentley said. 

Bentley went on to mention that GNC’s research revealed that over 80% of healthcare needs can be effectively managed through digital methods, with a strong focus on accessibility, affordability and preventive care. 

GNC also referenced recent findings by PYMNTS, which indicated that 74% of millennials and 56% of Generation Z individuals canceled their healthcare appointments due to cost estimates that exceeded their financial means. 

Read more: Why GNC Is Heading Into Healthcare 

Changing Consumer Preferences 

Consumers today are more discerning than ever when it comes to their health and well-being. They seek solutions that address not only their external beauty needs but also their internal wellness requirements. This shift in consumer preferences reflects a broader understanding of the interconnectedness of beauty and health. 

Ulta Beauty’s decision to expand its venture into wellness is a natural response to this shift. By offering a diverse range of wellness products and services alongside its beauty offerings, Ulta has an opportunity to become a one-stop destination for self-care. 

In a parallel move, GNC’s entry into virtual healthcare recognizes the transformative potential of digital solutions in the healthcare sector. The move signifies an understanding of the changing healthcare landscape and the increasing demand for accessible and affordable healthcare services. 

Ulta Beauty’s in-Store Customer Preference 

While creating convenience is always a win for consumers, Ulta Beauty’s decision to extend its wellness offerings also aligns with the fact that a significant majority of its customers — 75% of them — prefer to shop and convert in-store. 

“Our consumer insights and member data confirm the importance of physical shopping in beauty. More than 75% of our members choose to transact with us only in stores, and yet we know many of these members use our digital platforms for discovery, try-on and inspiration,” said Ulta Beauty Chief Executive Officer Dave Kimbell, during the beauty retailer’s second-quarter earnings call in August.  

Read more: Ulta Beauty Members Embrace In-Store Experience: 75% Opt for In-Store Transactions   

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