Priceline’s senior skincare buyer on what she looks for in a brand

Getting stocked in Priceline is many a brand’s dream. The company dominates its competitors in women’s skincare and cosmetics spend (Roy Morgan) and is a surefire way to see your products get into the hands of consumers.

With that in mind, BD chatted to Priceline Pharmacy’s senior skincare buyer Bronwyn Davies. Below you’ll find her top tips for catching trends, and how you can grab her attention; plus, keep your eyes out over the coming weeks as we find out from Priceline’s Beauty and Health buyers what they look for when curating its offering.

Could you please tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background in the industry?
Having been a buyer for over 20 years, I’m obsessed with tapping into what the customer is looking for and how to deliver it in the most accessible way. A lot of people think that being a buyer is all about seeing the new products before they hit the market, but there’s a heap of researching, substantiating claims and number crunching that goes on behind the scenes too!

How do you spot trends?
Trends would start in Europe or the US first and we could just recycle them here in Australia six months later; but with globalisation, this is no longer the case. We need to be in front of the trend now or we risk missing out. A key way we do this is by travelling overseas to see the trends coming through in the different markets. Here on home soil, I’m always online researching what’s being talked about in the skincare space, what beauty editors are writing about and what ingredients are being focused on – Instagram is a great tool for this! In addition to online research, we also have access to a lot of customer research and global trends from our suppliers and, of course, our own Sister Club data which shows what products our customers are loving.

What are some trends we should be looking out for?
The trend that is influencing almost every skincare brand at the moment is beautiful skin from the inside out. So not just looking at a superficial solution for temporary results, but creating a regime that results in healthy skin. Hydration is also a big focus, it’s less about anti-ageing and more about beautiful hydrated plump skin.

What’s your process for sourcing new brands?
We usually source brands in three different ways: we’ll seek out something we think suits our customers through research, we collaborate with a supplier to develop a product or range, or a supplier will reach out to us proactively.

How do you find new products?
New products will usually come to us in one of two ways: we’ll either work with an existing brand to identify a gap in their offer and decide on a solution to fill that gap, or they’ll update us on their new innovations and we’ll evaluate whether this will add something new and exciting to our total offering.

What do you look for when bringing brands into Priceline?
Our customers are always on the hunt for what we call “Hot, New, Now” brands, so we look for brands that will bring something unique and different to anything else we offer. Another big priority for us is brands that we can range exclusively. We want our customers to come in to Priceline Pharmacy and find new, unique brands and products that they can’t get anywhere else!

What would you say is the most difficult part of curating Priceline’s beauty/health offering?
It’s always so difficult to say “no thanks” to a brand who genuinely has a great range because it doesn’t tap into an unmet need for our customers.

Have you had a favourite or most exciting brand discovery so far?
A lot of our skincare brands are exclusive to Priceline Pharmacy which always makes them my favourites! The one that I think will stick in my mind for while though is one we will be launching early 2019, so unfortunately I can’t give away too many details other than that I’ve helped develop this range with the Priceline Pharmacy customer in mind. It’s in beautiful packaging, the regime is very easy to understand, and the ingredients will be similar to those found in products twice the price.

How do you see the industry changing with regards to smaller brands?
Due to social media and the importance of peer recommendations, smaller brands in skincare can do equally as well as the larger ones – sometimes even more so. As long as a brand has a point of difference, can get trial and lives up to its promises, it has the potential to do really well. Think of brands like The Ordinary which has seen such high demand that there are global shortages of their products, despite the brand only being two years old.

Do you have any advice for a brand looking to get into Priceline or grab a buyer’s attention?
We receive up to 1,000 enquiries per year and we look at every single one, but unfortunately we can’t move forward with ranging them all as there’s only so much we can fit in our stores. My advice for brands looking to get into Priceline Pharmacy would be to not be afraid to reach out to us if your brand has something unique to offer our customers – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

It’s not enough though to just have a great product, it needs to have something to make it stand out from the crowd. This can be an ingredient, packaging, clinical evidence others don’t have, influencer support, anything at all that’s unique might be the key to unlocking trial and then repeat purchase.

You don’t need a big budget but you do need to understand your target market, what they’re looking for and how they want to be communicated to.