October 4, 2018

Birchbox and Walgreens Team Up Which Means Mid-Range Makeup Brands Will Hit Drugstores

Birchbox and Walgreens are teaming up shortly to bring Birchbox Beauty Boxes to 11 Walgreens retail locations (hopefully with more locations to follow in the future) which gives a new lease to drugstore makeup consumers to experience new brands that have never been available at drugstores before.

As they say, the only place to go once you reach the top is down and that’s how it feels with many mid-range brands lately who have outgrown their popularity with older customers in a softening beauty market. It would not surprise me at some point if some brands, say Tarte maybe, will team up with Target or some other retailer for some exclusive collection or even had their entire line offered in a larger scale department store. At this point, consumers in the beauty world have grown jaded and have reservations about where they are spending their dollar which means expansions into department stores or in this case drugstores is the next logical step in gaining a new share of an untapped market.

Birchbox being available at Walgreens means brands like Wander Beauty, RMS Beauty, and more would be readily available at the drugstore. Gasp, shock, outrage!? The Birchbox deal enables Walgreens to bring in over 40 different mid-range and niche brands to the everyday consumer.

Walgreens is quoted as saying they will dedicate space in their stores for the Birchbox experience that provides curated assortments of full-size and deluxe-size samples of products available for purchase. This will be happening in 11 stores across the USA including ones located in Chicago, LA, and NYC which will start selling Birchbox as soon as December and more to follow in 2019.

At these stores, Birchbox will also offer subscriptions to its monthly delivery service of samples, and a “Build Your Own Birchbox” just like the experience at their flagship stores in New York.

I think this opens a door for a more Ulta-like experience at drugstores like Walgreens. It’s not everyday you head into Walgreens and see brands like RMS Beauty lining the shelves. I look forward to see how brands handle things as the market continues to soften.

What do you think of Birchbox at Walgreens?


About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Sarah

    Hmm. I really find it fascinating how much the beauty landscape has changed recently. It’s like there was this huge rush of hype and overspending on mid-range lines a few years back, and now that bubble has burst. Hence the frequent sales from the likes of Tarte, UD, etc. And now it would seem that some brands are having to reach even further outside their original demographic to boost their sales. Drugstore prices are rising and mid-range prices are falling. I wonder where this all will lead.

    • Isabella Muse

      I do too I do too! I do wonder when it all finally falls apart. I guess from the ashes the phoenix will rise? or at least I hope so otherwise the makeup/beauty industry will be completely changed as we know it!

  • Paige

    I wonder what will implode first from all of this–could it be Ulta and/or Sephora if drugstores get everything that isn’t at say, Neiman Marcus (who may also implode) or Barneys, or KBeauty etc….

    I’ve felt there has been a HUGE drop in quality on products overall and I wonder if it is due to all the flooding of brands/kits/sales and spreading around to so many distribution sources (like thin that formula to make more product faster). UD, Tarte, MAC, those used to have great pigment and quality and in the last couple of years it’s really dropped. In fact UD has dropped so far I never knew hot pink and punk orange could be a day color for me at the office they’re so faint :^)

    I have an old MAC eye shadow Parrot that one swipe covers 100% and still blends. It could make my eye fall out it’s so old now, but it doesn’t smell/irritate so I’m going to use it until it it’s gone.

    NYX, and those types of brands were once below UD and MAC in pigment, now I see them as exactly the same.

    And the original “drugstore brands” as Sarah mentioned can be mid range priced now, so I have no idea what end is up with all of this. Something will have to fail, whether it’s companies or distribution, or both, will be interesting and no doubt another “loss” to the beauty consumer.

    • Isabella Muse

      I might regret this but I think higher-end beauty is immune to the soft market! It’s the mid-range brands that might find themselves in trouble. High-end hasn’t succumbed to the endless sales, new releases, etc there’s still something exclusivity and not really unique but something special about a higher-end launch or collection plus LE means LE so it isn’t something that comes back, goes on sale in a few weeks, etc…! It literally disappears after a month or a few months but doesn’t go on sale. Mid-range is where the root of the problem is. Too many releases, not enough uniqueness, and frequency of releases leading to sales when something doesn’t go as viral as they had planned. I have an old Parrot too! Those were the days my friend! and Yes, agreed, it’s food for thought when NYX/Makeup Revolution/or even brands like Maybelline are on par with MAC and Too Faced/Tarte etc…

      • Paige

        Well said, Muse!

        OMG, when I finally hit pan on Parrot, I will cry actual tears.

        • Isabella Muse

          <---ME TOO! Parrot was my all time fav shade! I still have the glitter liner (which can't be used but I still have it haha). Parrot is one of those shades that brings me back to the good old makeup days :D

          • kjh

            Glad s.o. Else keeps unusable product for sentiment’s sake. Though, there’s always isododecane to wake it up. I think your analysis is spot on.

      • Sarah

        ITA Muse! I think that truly high end brands (i.e. Chanel) have avoided the slump by not using the fire-sale tactics that most of the mid-range brands are succumbing to.

        • Isabella Muse

          ITA! high end brands are like, “ok let’s keep doing us and forget what everyone else is doing!” the only high-end brand that I have seen in a slump is Marc Jacobs. They keep putting a lot of their seasonals on sale which is sad to see!

  • Tiff

    I feel the beauty hangover myself and have been disappointed with frequency of releases. I remember the days of looking forward to Christmas palettes and sets now it feels like there’s a new collection every month and with that comes sub par formulations and lots of wasted $$$. Anyhow, I’m glad to hear this news. Im looking forward to seeing and trying products that are typically only online, in person, specifically RMS whose products I’ve been eager to try.

    • Isabella Muse

      mmm preach! So much truth there Tiff. I used to be genuinely excited about makeup collections but now it’s like, “ANOTHER ONE!?”

      • Carol G

        Agree completely. I remember being excited about new releases too and now it’s just about every day (seriously) I’m getting an email from X brand about a new palette launch. It’s just too much! Muse, you are correct in that it is the mid-level brands & drug store brands that are heading for disaster. The mid-levels have over saturated the market, hence the sales three weeks after products launch. And drug store has gotten way too big for its britches, imo. The prices they are charging is sickening. So yeah, in the past two years, I have found myself cutting waaaay back on purchases because of subpar collections, too many duplicate products (enough with every company bringing out more highlighters this year! good grief, on a daily basis there are still highlighters being hyped!), and just in general, the prices of the products. Also find myself ignoring the hype (FOMO) and just learning to be PATIENT and if I really want it in a few weeks, it’ll most likely be on sale anyway.

        • Isabella Muse

          It really does feel like a release a day! I’m actually dreading Cyber Monday/Black Friday because I know they are going to slam us with not only LE releases but Spring 2019 right around the same time. The prices have been bad for a while I did an article about it back https://www.musingsofamuse.com/2014/05/drugstores-makeup-premium-prices-paying-much.html 2014 to be exact and that’s when I really felt that drugstore prices started to get ridiculous and here we are four years later and they seem even more ridiculous! the matte long-wear lipsticks, the highlighters, the freaking mermaids, it all has to go! It’s an instagram makeup world that’s one the problem is. Visually these products are what Insta-users want. It’s sometimes hard not to give in to FOMO but lately brands make it easier and easier to do so!

          • kjh

            Fuckabuncha Insta and its insta-hos. Rude, but so true. Not only have the Mets changed for midrange and DS, the DRIVERS have, too.

          • Carol G

            I know! I am dreading Black Fri/Cyber Mon as well. It’s going to be too much I fear. And yes, I suppose it is an Instagram world as far as makeup goes. Unfortunately I’m not drinking the kool aid on that.

          • Isabella Muse

            most def. It scares me! It’s all so exhausting!

  • kimkats

    they’re only going to ELEVEN retail locations??? C’mon…. that’s hardly worth announcing since 99.9% of the universe won’t be able to buy any of it… Frankly, the announcement doesn’t do anything for me, since I’m part of the 99.9%… I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the stores that will have birchbox will be in huge metropolitan locations where everything is already available, so not really sure what the point of this is. If they wanted to make midrange brands available to places where it’s harder to get, then they should be launching those in smaller areas.
    Hmph… 🙂 hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.

    • kjh

      No, you’re totally right. But maybe W will have Birchbox online..but that would cannibalize Birchbox’s own service.

  • Jane

    Could they just bring Art Deco and Bourjois and something from Japan here? I remember when they tried it in 2004 or so; they just needed more internet for it to work.

    I too am done with the makeup merry go round. I am uninterested in Tarte, Too Faced, Bare Minerals, etc – it’s too much. Given the political atmosphere, I’m just not in a hurry to reward cosmetics companies. I buy what I like, but the origey (I spelled that wrong so as to remain SFW) is over.

    • Eraser

      I would just love that. They had the Swedish brand Isadora for a few years, but I don’t remember any of the others. If they would get some of the Italian brands like Pupa or Deborah, I’d be beside myself! There isn’t this strict division between high and low end brands in Europe at least, but they also don’t have our giant drugstores and big boxes.

      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I remember when L’oreal and Revlon were sold at department stores. Max Factor was too but not in my time. I also remember the independent drugstores that existed before the big chains took over, and some of them sold high end brands like the European pharmacies and perfumers.

      • Christina

        I love Isadora and ArtDeco! You used to be able to buy Isadora in Walgreens years ago. I think Walgreens’ website carries some of the products.

  • Christiane

    I think it’s fantastic. However the good stuff will probably never reach my little mid west city. I love skincare and makeup but I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend at Sephora. I buy a lot on eBay and Amazon and iHerb. Plus I really like the k beauty and other Asian beauty products because they are so effective.