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Backing beauty: retailers that provide innovative, quality merchandise across the bath and beauty category are primed to drive sales, build customer loyalty and become a destination for the segment.

THE ECONOMY CONTINUES TO INCH ITS WAY TOWARD RECOVERY. but the pace remains sluggish. Yet, if there is one thing that consumers look for during a recession it is small, affordable luxuries. Shoppers often rely on the bath and beauty category to satisfy this need.

"Consumers are looking for products that will help them feel and look good," says J.R. Rigley, president and chief marketing officer of The J.R. Watkins Co., based in Winona, Minn. This is a good reason why major bath and body segments are growing compared to a year ago. For example, sales of hand and body lotions are up 4%, hand creams are up 12.1%, skin creams are up 8.3% and body cleansers are up 5.8%, according to New York-based Nielsen. Considering that the bath and body category is experiential and highly influenced by packaging design, fragrance, product performance and newness, grocers are often hard-pressed to focus on brands and merchandise that stand out, thus attracting the shopper and retaining their wallet share in the segment.

However, with so many products to choose from, the bath and beauty category is more overwhelming than ever. Grocers are constantly challenged to carry mainstream health and beauty care items, yet still provide customers with a "new" reason to shop their health and beauty care (HBC) aisles.

"By focusing on fresh, innovative product offerings, grocers can plan their business and make good product decisions that keep the category as efficient and profitable as possible," says Kathy Alagna, senior brand manager for MZB Personal Care, based in Long Island City, N.Y.

Today's consumer is more time-starved than ever. Shoppers juggle family responsibilities, jobs--sometimes more than one--and in some cases, education. Based on their many responsibilities, it is not surprising that more consumers are looking for product innovations that deliver convenience-whether they provide ease of use, or save consumers valuable time. Not Your Mother's, a Tampa, Fla.-based hair care brand marketed by Demert Brands, creates products that are designed to fit that bill.

"My team is constantly brainstorming new concepts for products and we feed off each other's ideas," says Bethany Pagliarulo, owner of Not Your Mother's. "By focusing on the demographic of our consumer and her wants and needs, we can shape the quality of the product we produce."

Even in the wake of a lingering recession, the hair care segment grew by 2% in 2013, rising to $11.4 billion in the U.S., according to Euromonitor International, a Chicago-based market research firm. Not Your Mother's consumers are contributing to these increases. They tend to be fashion-forward, creative and confident enough to try new styles, and want solutions that will easily help them achieve hipster looks, says Pagliarulo. Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo was created for consumers eager to "streamline their day by freshening up their look, whether first thing in the morning, or in the evening before going out," she adds.

While dry shampoo introductions accounted for a mere 1% of global shampoo launch activity in 2008, this jumped to 3% in 2012, and was on track to continue this pace moving forward, according to Mintel Beauty 8c Personal Care, a division of Chicago-based Mintel that covers the beauty and personal care segment.

Not Your Mother's can attest to this growth. The company's customer loyalty is so strong that Clean Freak became the top selling dry shampoo in the U.S., for the week ended June 7, 2014, according to Nielsen. Currently, Not Your

Mother's lines can be found on HBC shelves at supermarkets including Acme Fresh Markets, Albertson's, H.E.B., Harris Teeter, Kroger, Lowe's Food Stores, Meijer, Raley's, Savemart, Safeway, Schnucks and Wal-Mart, among others.

MULTI-DIMENSIONAL PRODUCTS

Another way to appeal to consumers' demand for convenience is to feature products that offer multi-use formulas. These options not only drive convenience, but are also valuable choices for cost-conscious consumers. For example, "MZB Personal Care continues to focus on offering more value and a broader selection of licenses to our customers who we know are looking to stretch their dollars as much as possible," says Alagna.

MZB's 3n1 body washes are an example. "We strive to offer 'clean' formulas for kids, and keep an ever watchful eye on trends in ingredients," she says.

To keep shoppers engaged, MZB continuously strives to feature innovative product designs while fine-tuning existing lines. "Consider our Turtles 3nl, packaged in a Ninja Turtles bottle," says Alagna. "It delivers an exciting character to the child, and a true commodity to Mom and the retailer. Its off-the-charts point-of-sale performance reflects the combination of novelty and utility."

MZB's 3n1 products, which are reformulated to be hypoallergenic and tear-free, are priced between $2.99 and $3.99.

J.R. Watkins' Anti-Aging Body Care line is also a perfect example of the multi-use trend, as it pairs nourishing products like cream body wash and body moisturizers with natural antioxidants and vitamins.

Another way to bolster convenience across HBC aisles is to make it as easy as possible for consumers to educate themselves about merchandise while in store aisles. Wahl Clipper Corp. a Sterling, Ill.-based manufacturer of professional home grooming products, is easing the shopping process by providing retail partners with displays that allow consumers to "touch and feel" products, as well as educate themselves on their functionality and differences.

"By taking items out of the box, so to speak, we are teaching consumers the difference between products, rather than confusing them with multiple boxes on a shelf," says Steven Yde, director of marketing for Wahl. "Our 'touch-and-feel/learn' design is an innovative sales and marketing tool that maximizes space, and helps retail partners drive sales."

As consumers continue their pursuit of healthy lifestyles, they remain focused on natural and organic merchandise throughout the store--including within the bath and beauty category. Observers say the trend shows no signs of slowing. They estimate that in the past six years sales of natural and organic personal care products have grown about 10%, becoming a $10 billion industry.

"Consumers are looking for bath and body care products that are natural and free from chemical ingredients," says J.R. Watkins' Rigley. "Meanwhile, they want their natural ingredients to be functional and perform well, too."

J.R. Watkins is answering this demand with its Anti-Aging Body Care range, which includes Ultra-Moisturizing Cream Body Wash, Body Serum, Body Cream and Hand Cream. "This 99% natural range works to hydrate with pure plant ingredients; nourish with vitamins A, C and E and protect skin with antioxidant grape seed and blackberry seed oils," he adds.

Johnson & Johnson has expanded its commitment to natural products across its baby category with its Johnson's Natural product line. Officials for the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company, describe Natural as the only baby product line that is at least 98% natural (with 2% reserved for preservatives to protect its reputable gentle formula) and created by a company with over 100 years of baby care expertise. The line contains no parabens, dyes, animal by-products, silicones, lanolin, paraffin, petrolatum or phthalates or essential oils. Products include baby lotion, foaming baby wash and shampoo.

All of these natural offerings are filling shelves nationwide, but some retailers have stronger commitments than others. For example, Sprouts Farmers Market features a large section of "natural, cruelty-free health and beauty products, old-fashioned remedies and new body care innovations, all at value-oriented prices," according to the Phoenix-based grocer's website, www.sprouts.com.

Observers say the key to driving sales across natural HBC shelves is to offer a diverse merchandise assortment at different price points. J.R. Watkins' Rigley says the growth of its most popular bath and body products, 100% Natural Sugar & Shea Body Scrubs, Hand Creams, Body Oil Mists, Body Butters and Hand and Body Lotions is partially attributable to their availability in a variety of natural scents, and affordable prices.

GOING DIGITAL

While in-store education--from beauty advisors to on-shelf merchandising, sampling and events--is important to engage shoppers, increase sales and build brand loyalty across the growing bath and beauty category, today's digital shoppers often conduct pre-shopping research via their desktop, laptop or mobile devices before even entering the store. Observers say that to keep today's digital shopper engaged and drive sales to HBC aisles, it is time for grocers and manufacturers to embrace these Web-based tools.

Appealing to its teen and hipster clientele for example, Not Your Mother's uses social media to engage its customers and drive loyalty. With a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pintrest and Tumblr, Not Your Mother's joins the 59% of companies that believe social media is the most important priority when working to deliver an improved shopping experience, ac cording to Retail TouchPoints, based in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

One key way to get in front of these social shoppers is to deliver communications directly through their mobile devices. As technology costs continue to drop and functionality continues to rise, consumer adoption of personal mobile devices heats up. Increasingly, consumers rely on these web-based devices, both smart phones and tablets, as self-service shopping options.

With 56% of consumers' sales channel preferences evolving beyond a traditional experience toward more digital means, they are demanding their favorite brands deliver more digitized, service- and price-driven experiences, according to Boston-based Aberdeen Group's report, The 2012 Self-Service Hand-Book: The Empowered Consumer.

"The bath and beauty consumer is using mobile devices in-store to get digital coupons, deals and instant answers via product reviews," says J.R. Watkins' Rigley.

By increasing their use of online coupons and deals, and augmenting this with in-store strategies, such as subscription sampling boxes and in-store beauty advisors, grocers will soon learn that "all help to drive trial of new beauty services and products," he adds.
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Title Annotation:NONFOODS FOR PROFIT: Bath & Beauty
Author:Amato-Mccoy, Deena
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Date:Oct 1, 2014
Words:1622
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