Aside from the necessary toiletry items, when most teenage girls go into the beauty isle of a store they are usually looking for nail polish.

nail polish, Ali Oshinsky, drug store, beauty aisle, Sally Hansen, Tracy Reese, Target, Essie, OPI, makeup collections, Walgreens, CVS, Orly, Milani

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Inside This Issue - Opinion

A young shopper eyes the nail care set

January 17th, 2011
by Ali Oshinsky

Aside from the necessary toiletry items, when most teenage girls go into the beauty isle of a store they are usually looking for nail polish.

Nail polish has been the prevailing cosmetic in fashion lately, with low-cost brands like Sally Hansen creating collections for several runway shows such as Tracy Reese. Nail polish is becoming a way to keep up with the trends of the season without breaking the bank. Some retailers are adjusting, and some are getting lost.

The first place I visited to conduct research was Target. The Target near my home has been converted recently into a Super Target. Shopping at a Super Target allows teens to be shopping while parents are buying groceries or other household items.

In the past the nail polish section has been at the very bottom of beauty displays, requiring one to sit on the floor to view the colors.

Target is trying a new approach by placing the polish on a display that spans an entire wall. Another tactic Target is using to lure shoppers is offering more high-end lacquers such as Essie and OPI. These cost a bit more than the average drug store brand, but consumers find them more appealing due to their familiar names and chip-resistant formulas.

Target still puts some nail polishes that correspond to entire makeup collections on the bottom shelves, but they use large swatches of each color as labels, which allows consumers to see the colors without bending down.

Next I visited Walgreens, which takes a different approach. Instead of getting higher-end brands, Walgreens uses a much larger selection of drug store brands to attract consumers. Walgreens organizes the colors by brand-specific displays (a display for Sinful, a display for Shelly, etc.).

Some brands were placed at the bottom of displays, like at Target, but it was mostly the steadily popular colors like reds and pinks. Walgreens tries to stay relevant by placing the brighter and more current colors at the top. The bigger selection of colors and brands is most appealing to teens because it gives them the chance to experiment with colors and trends.

The one downside to Walgreens’ method of individual displays is that because they take up more space they are spread out through the beauty section, which makes it harder for customers to find what they’re looking for.

For example, in another Walgreens in my area, I was looking for the Sally Hansen nail polish display and realized after a while that it was next to the greeting card section.

CVS was the last place I visited to shop for nail polish. Like Target, CVS carried a specialty brand, Orly. And, like Walgreens, CVS had individual displays for each brand of polish.

The problem I found with CVS, though, was that the displays for each brand were too spread out. I could find the Sally Hansen and Orly displays at the very back corner of the store, NYC was in the soap aisle, and I almost missed Milani because it was all the way up front with the perfumes.

All in all, if I had to choose a place to go to buy nail polish, I would probably go to Walgreens first. Although the polish section is a bit spread out, teens would be willing to sacrifice that inconvenience for a much bigger selection.

Target and CVS tie for second, because what one retailer has the other lacks. Although Target’s nail polish sections are close together and labeled well, they lack a bigger range of drug store brands. CVS’ selection was good, but it was too spread out to shop comfortably.

ALI OSHINSKY is a 14-year-old middle school student in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.