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Spotlight on Feminine Hygiene Products.

Byline: Kathie Canning

Distinctive packaging, strategic cross-merchandising efforts and more could help retailers boost sales of own-brand feminine hygiene products.

Sales in the U.S. feminine hygiene product category have been flat for some time now, and the past year saw a continuation of that trend. For the 52 weeks ending April 19, 2015, data from Chicago-based market research firm Information Resources Inc. (IRI) show that dollar sales within the total sanitary napkin/tampon category rose 1.5 percent to reach $590.4 million, but unit sales fell by 0.2 percent during the same timeframe.

Private label represented the second-largest "brand" within both the sanitary napkin and tampon subcategories, accounting for an 18.0 percent dollar share in the sanitary napkin/liner subcategory and a 10.7 percent dollar share in the tampon subcategory. The right merchandising efforts could help retailers gain additional dollar share within the category.

To see what retailers are doing well and not so well here, we visited three mass merchandise stores: a Meijer store in McHenry, Ill., operated by Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer Inc.; a Walmart store in Vernon Hills, Ill., operated by Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart; and a SuperTarget store in Vernon Hills, Ill., operated by Minneapolis-based Target Corp. Our visits took place on a Tuesday morning in mid-June. It's worth noting that in all three stores, store brand feminine care items are given far fewer facings than their equivalent national brand items.

Meijer

General observations

The feminine hygiene product aisle in the Meijer store is against the wall on the far left side of the store, toward the front of the store (looking into the store from the front entrance) Meijer-brand equivalents to national brand products are located to the right of the respective national brand items The section merchandises sanitary napkins, tampons, pantiliners, feminine washes and wipes pregnancy tests, condoms and more.

Foot traffic was light during our early-morning visit. The store was very neat and clean, and the shelves in the feminine hygiene section were fairly neat and well-stocked.

The upside:

a0x20 Large signage touted a 10 percent-off promotion on Meijer-brand sanitary napkins, tampons and feminine wipes.

a0x20 Many of the national brand feminine hygiene products were on promotion, but the Meijer-brand equivalents were still priced lower.

The downside:

a0x20 The packaging for the Meijer-brand sanitary napkins and tampons is very similar to that for their national brand equivalents, so it doesn't really stand out on the shelf.

a0x20 We noticed no displays or signage tied to Meijer-brand feminine hygiene products (or national brand products).

SuperTarget

General observations:

The feminine hygiene product aisle in the SuperTarget store is located slightly to the right of the center of the store (looking into the store from the front entrance) in a short aisle, midway between the front and back of the store. Sanitary napkins and tampons are located mainly on one side of the aisle, while the other side of the aisle merchandises feminine washes and wipes, pantiliners, incontinence products and more. In most cases, the retailers' up&up items are placed to the right of their national brand equivalents.

Foot traffic was rather heavy during our mid-morning visit. The store was generally neat and clean, but the shelves in the feminine hygiene section were not well-stocked, and many items were misplaced.

The upside:

a0x20 Many of the up&up products have a whimsical design (featuring, for example, a picture of a purse or shoes) against a white background, making the products really stand out from the national brand items.

The downside:

a0x20 For the most part, the shelves were in a state of disarray, with many products misplaced, out of stock or even upside-down.

a0x20 Of the three stores we visited, the SuperTarget store was the only one that had a display tied to feminine hygiene products. However, the end-cap display (with large signage touting "Special Purchase") was poorly stocked and limited to national brand items.

a0x20 Large shelf takers calling out a $5 gift card promotion with the purchase of certain Kotex and Always products rather overshadowed the small shelf tags showing own-brand product pricing.

Walmart

General observations

The feminine hygiene product aisle in the Walmart store is located against the front wall of the store, toward the center of the store (looking into the store from the front entrance). In most cases, the retailers' Equate-brand items are placed to the right of their national brand equivalents, but we did see some products that were merchandised in the middle of a national brand set. The section merchandises sanitary napkins, tampons, pantiliners, feminine washes and wipes, pregnancy tests, and more.

Foot traffic was rather heavy during our late-morning visit. The store was very neat and clean, and the shelves in the feminine hygiene product section were fairly well-stocked.

The upside:

a0x20 Two large signs touting "Feminine Needs" extend over the top shelf holding sanitary napkins and tampons, while another touting "Feminine Care" extends over the top shelf holding feminine washes, yeast infection treatments and more.

a0x20 No products were on promotion (in line with Walmart's everyday low price strategy), making it easier to compare pricing between the national brand and the Equate-brand equivalent.

The downside:

a0x20 Walmart's own-brand feminine hygiene items feature packaging that's very similar to their national brand equivalents, making the products harder to spot on the shelf.

a0x20 We noticed no displays or signage tied to Equate-brand feminine hygiene products (or national brand products).

Ignite sales

Store brand feminine hygiene products are poised for growth: More than a fifth (21 percent) of U.S. women who use sanitary protection products like to try new products or brands, and roughly the same percentage believe private label sanitary protection products are just as good as branded items, according to "Category Insight: Feminine Hygiene and Incontinence Products," a December 2014 report from global market research firm Mintel. But female consumers are looking for more innovation from both branded and private label items.

To boost sales of store brand feminine hygiene products, retailers not only will want to call out any innovative features and benefits, but also give the products their due when it comes to merchandising efforts. In addition to placing the products adjacent to their national brand equivalents, retailers should consider investing in "bonus packs, on-pack offers and multi-packs, cross-merchandising, PDQ and end-cap displays," notes Beth Richman, vice president of sales for Albaad USA, Reidsville, N.C.

And differentiated packaging also is a plus.

"Unique packaging draws attention at the consumer point of purchase," Richman says. "Vibrant, eye-catching graphics and unique shapes draw the consumer in, thus causing the purchase. This category, specifically, is very graphic-driven due to the female purchase[r]."
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Author:Canning, Kathie
Publication:Progressive Grocer's Store Brands
Date:Jul 1, 2015
Words:1259
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