The discreet arrival of Sephora on the drugstore market

In the Sephora store on boulevard Saint-Germain, in Paris, a new space has discreetly appeared, soberly delimited by a glass roof and by a floor covering in light oak, which distinguishes it from the black and white tiles characteristic of the rest of the shop. On the shelves, face creams, lotions, hair care, anti-aging serums. Nothing unexpected for a cosmetics and perfume brand, except for the referenced brands: Avène, René Furterer, A-Derma, Garancia, Nuxe, etc. Classics that are usually found on the shelves of pharmacies and parapharmacies.

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Recently, they are now also sold in the beauty brand. This stealthy arrival on the drugstore market is still only in “experimental stage”, specifies the subsidiary of the LVMH group. The Parisian store on boulevard Saint-Germain, in the 6e arrondissement of Paris, is the only point of sale, out of the chain’s three hundred stores in France, to offer this new range of products. “No decision has been taken to date on a possible enlargement”explains Sephora, for whom this diversification is part of the desire to « to offer its customers the widest and most relevant range of prestige beauty products possible in order to meet all desires and all needs ».

Pharmacists’ concern

Although experimentation is still limited in stores, it is accompanied by a wider deployment on its online sales site: more than 500 dermo-cosmetic products in face, body and hair care are offered in its sub-tabs entitled “Parapharmacy”.

By hunting down pharmacies and parapharmacies, Sephora takes the risk of exposing itself to the anger of some of these professionals, who are still irritated, after nearly four decades, by the entry into this market of mass distribution since the opening of the first parapharmacies of the Leclerc group. Pharmacists, who derive part of their income from these products sold at free prices – unlike drugs – are worried about these competitors who have a stronger commercial strike force. Pharmazon, a purchasing center for pharmacies, denounces in particular a confusion of genres between perfumery and parapharmacy, which would distort the profession of pharmacist.

Sephora’s foray into the market is not, however, a first in France. Other brands of cosmetics and perfumes, including Marionnaud or Nocibé, lured by the success of sales of these items to the general public, have launched an assault on this market in recent years.


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