The Groundbreakers: The executives behind key changes at influential companies
VP of merchandising, Ulta Beauty
In May 2021, Ulta Beauty launched its wellness shop composed of five categories: down-there care, relax & renew, everyday care, spa at home, and supplements & ingestibles. Then, in September, it expanded the assortment with a sixth pillar, intimate wellness, introducing the category with a tight edit of 35 products. Penny Coy led the charge and selected the included products. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, with social media followers leaving comments expressing their excitement about the category expansion. Among the included lubricants, supplements, candles and devices, vibrators have been best sellers, indicating that Ulta Beauty customers are embracing sexual wellness as part of the overarching beauty umbrella.
How did the conversation around launching sexual wellness at Ulta Beauty start?
“It started with launching the wellness shop. We wanted to continue to expand our offering within the shop, and intimate wellness was a natural adjacency.
Our team of merchants selected five brands to launch with. We decided to start with an assortment of oils, lubricants, bath salts, supplements and devices, to reflect both self-care and health-care needs.”
Are there unique challenges to selling sexual wellness?
“We’ve focused on the guests’ shopping experience. Right now, we’re offering sexual wellness online-only, so we’ve talked a lot about that with the brand partners: How do we educate the guest online? And we’ve done a nice job of it on our product description pages. We’ve also talked about the next stage, as we hope to roll out sexual wellness in stores; we’ve [considered] how our associates will be educated and how they’ll interact with guests in the intimate wellness realm.”
How did the team decide on the assortment?
“We wanted to offer guests an assortment of products that don’t overlap and are very inclusive, in terms of price point. And we wanted to test and learn. We’re looking closely at our guests’ reactions, and we’ll go from there.”
What has the reaction been to the category, so far?
“They’re applauding us, because we’re serving their needs. We want to serve the full spectrum of wellness for women. We’ve already expanded the Wellness Shop from 400 stores to 800 stores, and there are more to come in 2023. We want the wellness shop to eventually be in all stores.”
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