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Aromatherapy: It has the sweet smell of success.

NEW YORK -- The aromatherapy category is hot and getting hotter.

"It's just on fire right now," says Puneet Nanda, founder and chief executive officer of essential oil supplier GuruNanda LLC. "People are going nuts buying on our website. We are astounded ourselves with what is going on."

Nanda, the entrepreneur behind Dr. Fresh, which he grew into a company selling several hundred million toothbrushes a year before selling it, said he didn't expect to replicate its success with GuruNanda. But now he thinks his new company is going to become "much bigger than Dr. Fresh very quickly."

The GuruNanda line targets the growing number of consumers who are looking for natural products and remedies rather than taking the traditional medicine/pharmaceuticals route. Aromatherapy, based in ancient Ayurvedic medicine, has become extremely popular as a result of the trend.

At Piping Rock Health Products, senior vice president of sales and marketing Kimberly Vigliante cites Nielsen data showing aromatherapy sales in all outlets up 57% last year. The segment is projected to grow 50% in the drug channel to $46 million in 2020, according to TABS Analytics and Piping Rock.

"This data demonstrates that aromatherapy is a quickly growing category that retailers can only benefit from," says Vigliante. "At Nature's Truth, we continue to expand the aromatherapy category, creating unique, innovative items that bring consumers to the category, and with our Wellness 360 marketing campaign, those new users are heading straight for the vitamin aisle."

Despite the arrival of new brands in the segment, Nature's Truth remains the No. 1 selling aromatherapy brand nationally, with a 40% share, and continues to drive growth, having advanced 53% in the fourth quarter of 2017, she adds, citing Nielsen.

"Nature's Truth has been a driving force behind transforming the vitamin aisle to an overall wellness aisle--wellness includes more than just vitamins; it incorporates categories such as aromatherapy," she emphasizes. By merging the vitamin and aromatherapy categories, Piping Rock is bringing new users to both, as well as boosting basket sizes for retailers, she says.

The Nature's Truth aromatherapy line is expansive, with over 50 products, including diffusers, base oils, single essential oils, unique essential oil blends, essential oil mists, roll-ons, creams and new innovative forms. "Quality continues to be of importance with so many companies out there in the market," as not all have the same standards, Vigliante says. Nature's Truth recently launched new packaging for essential oils that call out its gas chromatography and mass spectrometry testing so consumers can be confident they are getting the 100% pure and natural essential oils that they expect, she notes.

Nature's Truth customers are about 79% female and 21% male and generally ages 35 to 54. "Our target market is women," comments Vigliante. "We feel the best way to reach women in our demographic is to focus our marketing efforts by advertising in popular women's magazines and maintaining a heavy digital and social media presence."

"Social media has played a huge role in the aromatherapy segment," she adds. "From multilevel marketing brands to the mass market brands found on retailers' shelves to health food store brands, social media has allowed consumers to connect and share their aromatherapy experiences. Our consumers deeply engage with our brand through the use of social media. We have a large presence on social media and use it to educate our consumers as well as give them fun ways to use their favorite products. Aromatherapy allows consumers to take a proactive approach to wellness and make their wellness routine fun. By utilizing social media, we are able to reach a wide array of consumers and promote brand awareness, new product launches with our retail partners, and promote load-to-card offers with direct links in ads."

Nanda, of GuruNanda, says his personal experience provides a powerful testament to the benefits of aromatherapy. While in Greece he had a chronic condition causing him to sneeze as much as 100 times a day. "I was eating Claritin," he recalls.

A 94-year-old man who saw what was happening gave him a drop of oregano oil in water, with a high carvacrol content. "I took it, and since then I've never touched a Claritin," Nanda says. "It literally changed my life."

And to ward off the flu this season, he put a few drops of Guru Nanda Thrive oil blend on his pillow and diffused it in his office. "I call it my flu shot," he says. "Everyone around me was getting sick and I never got sick."

GuruNanda, meanwhile, has thrived by paying fanners a fair price for ingredients. Consumers reap the reward, since eliminating the middleman reduces the exorbitant prices typically charged for quality essential oil, according to the company. "I kept it super affordable," comments Nanda, saying GuruNanda is "more like a social entrepreneurship project" than a conventional for-profit company.

In any event, revenues are growing at a nearly triple-digit rate, he says. "Everything is going up like nobody's business. It's the fastest growing business in the world."

GuruNanda's global network of farmers also ensures that all ingredients in its essential oils and oil blends are 100% pure and natural. And Nanda has made it a mission to educate consumers to avoid synthetic or lesser-quality ingredients, which he says are all too prevalent in the marketplace.

Vigliante says Piping Rock believes "aromatherapy absolutely aligns with wellness." The company offers only 100% pure essential oils made from the highest-quality plants. While fragrance oils tend to be synthetic, essential oils are highly concentrated forms with similar benefits to their plant counterparts, she points out. "Essential oils have been used for centuries due to the natural effect they have on our senses. By using essential oils, consumers are just adding to their current wellness regimen, because wellness is about how you feel as a whole, not just what you put inside your body."

Retailers have succeeded with aromatherapy by demonstrating their commitment to the segment through larger item mixes, innovative forms and greater visibility with premium placement on shelves in the vitamin section, says Vigliante. "Optimal shelf placement is either at the beginning of the Ato-Z branded vitamin blocks or positioned within the women's wellness sections. By grouping base oils with diffusers and merchandising the different types of essential oils alphabetically, we help ease navigation at the shelf for consumers so they can easily find the products they are looking for.
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Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Feb 12, 2018
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