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Handle with Care.

Byline: Rich Mitchell

Consumer segments most likely to require first aid are expanding, creating strong opportunities for retailers that offer functional and innovative store brand treatments.

More than 70 percent of households own a first aid kit, clearly demonstrating that consumers want to be ready for when injuries occur, notes global market research firm Mintel.

And the need for treatment is forever ongoing. Indeed, a 2013 study by Mintel found that 80 percent of persons suffered some type of injury during a six-month period.

Demand for products, meanwhile, is likely to increase as the percentage of older consumers -- who have thinner skin, making them more inclined to injury -- is set to grow significantly over the next five years. Mintel forecasts that the 65--74 age segment will increase by 21 percent from 2014 to 2019, and the 75-plus segment will grow 12 percent.

In addition, minority populations, which tend to have larger households with more injury-prone children, also is increasing.

"Nearly universal ownership of many first aid staples, including bandages and antiseptics, bodes well for the category, and it will continue to benefit from population growth," notes Emily Krol, Mintel health and wellness analyst.

Private label products, meanwhile, are a significant driver of activity. Store brands comprise about one-third of the first aid market and do especially well in treatment, accessories and foot devices. Generally, consumers do not perceive a noticeable difference between name brands and store brands in these segments, Krol notes, adding that private label also dominates in new product introductions.

The highest store brand growth rates are occurring in such segments as gauze, tape and other wound care, while faring less well in first aid kits and sticking plasters/adhesive bandages. The most commonly owned first aid products are adhesive bandages, cotton balls and antiseptic creams, Mintel states.

"While wound care companies held an advantage in part for their greater range of products with fun designs that appeal to children, private label products are beginning to follow suit," states Amanda Hartzmark, research analyst for London-based Euromonitor International.

Promote innovation

Items with greater functionality are particularly attractive to first aid users, Mintel reports. That includes bandages that prevent scarring, bandages with diagnostic cures to alert users when their wound is healed or a bandage needs to be changed, and bandages that can relieve pain and help users heal quickly.

The need to spotlight store brands is especially critical when launching new innovative selections. Yet while inventive private label products will enable retailers to differentiate their lines from those of the national brands, promoting the items can be burdensome, says Eddie Kolos, CEO of H2Ocean Inc., a Stuart, Fla.-based manufacturer of sea salt-based first aid products, including nasal and skin sprays, oral rinses, ointments and balms.

"The major challenge is the cost for advertising and branding your name," he states. "Private label makes a lot of sense, particularly if an item is unique. But the key question is, "How do you market it to consumers?'"

Sharon Adoni, founder and CEO of Aid Tech Inc., a Closter, N.J.-based developer of medicated bandages, agrees that dealing with the high cost of marketing, in addition to product development expenses, is challenging. But she believes it is essential to promote newer first aid products, and the potential returns could be solid.

"There often is nothing new in the first aid section," Adoni adds. "It is a long process to get a product to market, and you have to market and advertise or people will not buy."

Trigger a purchase

While innovative products are attractive to consumers, they can sometimes come with a hefty price tag. Quality and durability are more important to first aid users than price, but price is a driving factor in bandage purchases, especially among female consumers, who tend to be primary first aid buyers, Krol says.

"This also helps to explain why private label brands make up a significant portion of the first aid accessories and treatment segments," she adds.

To boost sales of store brands, Hartzmark suggests that retailers place private label selections next to equivalent national brands and leverage advertising and marketing campaigns to educate consumers on the benefits of purchasing specific wound care items.

Retailers should situate store brands to the right of the national brands on shelves because persons read left to right and such placements will resonate more with shoppers, recommends Hal Burke, vice president of retail sales for Xttrium Laboratories Inc., a Mount Prospect, Ill.-based provider of skin antiseptics.

In addition, retailers could effectively spotlight their store brands through discount pricing and such offers as "buy one/get 50 percent off the second item," which will appeal to consumers seeking to store products in both their first aid kits and the medicine cabinet, he states.

Package colors that are similar to those of national brand equivalents also will spur more consumers to investigate the private label selections, Burke says.

"That is important because if shoppers take something off the shelf, there is a large chance that they will put the item in their cart," he states. "It also is beneficial to educate the store pharmacist about the private label products so they can then educate consumers on the items."

But not everyone believes packaging should mimic the national brands. Adoni says packaging should have vibrant colors and images to attract shoppers, and retailers also should consider giving free samples.

Retailers could effectively promote store brand offerings with shelf talkers that highlight an attractive price, a new product, or a selling point, such as the product being all natural, Kolos suggests.

"Special displays in the first aid section also do well," he adds. "A good store brand product line that draws the attention of consumers will trigger impulse purchases."

Encourage preparedness

Proactive retailers, meanwhile, could bolster their first aid sales activity by leveraging products that have little market exposure, including face masks and liquid bandages, Hartzmark says.

"There are opportunities to increase ownership of less owned products," she notes. "Increasing concern over the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola could accelerate growth, at least temporarily, for face masks. Liquid bandages can be appealing to Hispanics or younger males, as these can blend in with skin and are more versatile."

Indeed, younger males, a segment that has high rates of injuries, are an attractive sector for sellers of first aid items, Krol states.

"Messaging about preparedness and how first aid products can help to save lives by quickly treating injuries is a way to engage with users," she notes.

With the demographic segments most susceptible to injuries increasing, the first aid category -- and particularly private label products within it -- is in position to flourish.

Do promote innovative new first aid products.

Don't ignore products with little market exposure. Promote them too!

Do consider offering free samples.

Don't forget to use shelf talkers to call attention to product benefits.

Look what's new

CVS/pharmacy Triple Antibiotic Original Strength from Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS/pharmacy is a first aid antibiotic that is said to protect against skin and bacterial infections in minor cuts, scrapes and burns. The antibiotic retails in a 2-oz. aerosol metal can.

New from Target Corp., Minneapolis, are Up & Up Butterfly Waterproof Closures. The closures are designed to be used on small cuts and wounds and do not stick to the wounds. The closures are said to not be made with natural rubber latex and retail in a recyclable carton contains 12 sterile closures measuring 1-3/4-in. x 3/8-in.

DG Health First Aid Antiseptic Spray from Dollar General Corp., Goodlettsville, Tenn., is said to be formulated to kill germs and relieve pain on contact with no sting. The maximum-strength product retails in a 5-fl.-oz. plastic bottle.
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Author:Mitchell, Rich
Publication:Progressive Grocer's Store Brands
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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