Already the go-to among the wellness set for $20 smoothies and adaptogen beverages, Erewhon is ramping up its beauty offering.
With over 150 beauty brands in stock, the upscale L.A.-based grocery chain is granting more visibility to the category as it shows strength in sales. On December 1, Erewhon introduced its first beauty brand partner endcap display featuring the refillable body-care startup Uni, which launched at the retailer on the same day. While the retailer’s shelf space has long been a coveted launchpad for wellness food, beverage and supplement brands such as Bella Hadid’s Kiin Euphorics drink brand, it is increasingly positioning itself as a go-to for beauty brands targeting an affluent health- and eco-minded customer base.
Beauty products “perform really well” at Erewhon, said Maren Giuliano, the retailer’s vp of health and wellness, who heads up both its supplements and adjacent beauty section. “It’s an area that we want to keep developing, because the customers are there.”
When Giuliano joined Erewhon a year and a half ago, one of her main goals was to “expand more, on the beauty side,” she said. Its selection is “more supplement-heavy,” for now.
“[Beauty] was really small when I started, but [Erewhon] is starting to experiment with bringing in brands that are traditionally in the beauty channel only,” she said.
According to Uni founder Alexandra Keating, Erewhon will benefit the brand with discoverability among a relevant clientele and the cache of being associated with the retailer. Uni declined to disclose sales figures.
“Erewhon, especially for L.A., is one of the few stores that people really traffic,” said Keating. “The community is just amazing.”
Described last year by The New York Times as “L.A.’s hottest hangout,” Erewhon has earned buzz from celebrity grocery-shopping trips captured by papparazzi, viral smoothie collabs and merch that has been spotted on Kendall Jenner and Sophie Turner. During the pandemic, the grocery store’s outdoor cafe seating era became a prominent influencer hangout when non-essential bars and restaurants were closed.
“It’s really been able to infiltrate culture,” said Keating.
Founded in 1966 in Boston as a pioneer of the natural foods scene in the United States, Erewhon is now exclusive to Los Angeles with eight locations across the city. Since being acquired in 2011 by Tony and Josephine Antoci, the retailer has evolved its branding from crunchy to chic as celebrities and influencers have flooded in.
In addition to the hip factor, a shelf spot at Erewhon is a “seal of approval,” said Keating, as the retailer is “a very trusted source.”
To seek out beauty brands that fit with its image, Erewhon’s brand partnerships team “is constantly looking and scouring trends,” with a focus on DTC brands that have not yet entered retailer partnerships, said Giuliano. “We’re not necessarily looking for something specific, but we know it when we see it.”
The retailer’s main beauty categories are body care, hair care, skin care and beauty supplements, plus it sells some fragrances. Among its best-selling brands are Osea, Agent Nateur, Moon Juice, and Salt & Stone. Its makeup was discontinued during the pandemic due to the limits on product testers, and the retailer has no immediate plans to bring it back.
Beyond stocking brands on its shelves, it also launches marketing partnerships. Summer Fridays founder Marianna Hewitt, for example, launched a viral smoothie partnership with the brand that referenced her skin-care label, while Kourtney Kardashian’s wellness platform Poosh has also done an Erewhon smoothie collaboration.
Wellness, clean ingredients and sustainability are top factors for product selection. While grocery-adjacent personal care items like natural deodorants are top sellers, typical beauty retailer favorites like face serums are also among the leading categories.
For beauty brands sold at a premium price point, product presentation needs to take style into account. Giuliano, an alum of Whole Foods, said beauty needs to be “presented in a certain way” to entice Erewhon’s consumers, as “it still is a grocery store.”
Customers can buy Uni’s refillable bottles of products, including its shampoo, conditioner and body wash, in store. When empty, they can then mail the bottles back to Uni and order refills through its subscription program. The retailer and brand strategically chose not to provide in-store refills, which have been catching on at other retailers.
‘Big gallon refills where people pump the shampoo into their reusable bottle are such a mess,” said Giuliano. “It’s a great intention, but just not not ideal [at Erewhon]. … It has to look good.”