Commentary From Our Chairman / CEO
For Aging Baby Boomers It’s Skin Care Time!
By Mike Sleeper, Chief Executive Officer, Imperial Distributors, Inc.
As you’ve probably heard countless times by now, the multitudes of babies born in the post-war baby boom have come of age–middle age.
The effect upon products, among many other things, is huge, and nowhere is it more evident than in the growth of the skin care market. Wrinkled skin is the first external evidence of the aging process. Putting a high premium on health and appearance, consumers are rushing to buy products to fortify themselves. Most involved are three major skin care subcategories–face, hands and body.
By one reliable estimate (DCI/Datamonitor), skin care in all channels scored a five-year growth average of 7.0%. This record overshadows such major categories as hair care/coloring, 3.9% ; cosmetics, 2.9%; deodorants, 2.0% and dentifrice, 2.0%.
Manufacturers are also rushing to ride the demographic trends. They are aided by technological advances in formulation and delivery systems. They’re churning out new items that elevate skin care far beyond the old-line moisturizer products (which are also doing well). High-tech skin care includes dermal skin patches (best known for clogged pores but now expanded to anti-wrinkle products), spray mists, more applications with vitamins, enzymes and plant extracts, alpha-hydroxy acids and tongue-twisters like coenzymes.
The number of face, hand and body SKUs can exceed 400 in larger supermarkets with big HBC departments. This is double the number of two-three years ago. Price points are relatively high as is percent margin, so penny profit per unit sold is excellent.
While consumers and manufacturers are rushing to buy and sell skin care products, many supermarkets have some "wrinkles" to iron out before achieving the potential in this dynamic category.
It’s mostly a question of getting more shelf space. No simple matter, considering that HBC in most conventional stores is already crowded. Perhaps now’s the time to consider remerchandising (if not expanding) the entire department, cutting back on mature sections in favor of the up and comers, making use of Efficient Product Assortment and even considering shifting out pantyhose and other non-HBC categories that may be sitting in the HBC aisle.
There’s a lot of competition out there. Besides drugstores and mass merchandisers, there are the door to door people, department stores and specialty outlets like The Body Shop. In fact, these non-mass channels, backed with a lot of personal selling, command over half of the face, hand and body subcategories.
Is there anything else supermarkets can do to win a bigger share of this booming business besides "just" increasing shelf space and selection?
How about a little glamorizing! Different types of shelving with more attractive colors, mirror-coated shelf backing, wood shelving, additional lighting, and ideally, stylish graphics. And of course, solid value statements to the consumer: cents-off, BOGOF offers, larger space ads, couponing, all reinforced with endcaps, more use of floorstands, POS materials. Tying in with manufacturers to distribute coupons and samples is another route to take.
When you think about it, like most other outstanding categories there’s more than product involved here.
Skin care is a vital part of the department’s image and can impact on the overall store as the place to go for exciting new products and for keeping up with the latest trends. The upgraded skin care department is a keystone to putting "beauty" on the supermarket HBC map.
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