AGING STOPPERS

The aging, mature woman shopper finds that meat and specialized facial creams are appealing in the one-stop grocery experience.These shoppers fall within a prime and growing customer demographic that more grocery retailers are targeting through their skin care aisles with a bounty of advanced anti-aging items with high price points."As supermarket operators once again look to interior departments

The aging, mature woman shopper finds that meat and specialized facial creams are appealing in the one-stop grocery experience.

These shoppers fall within a prime and growing customer demographic that more grocery retailers are targeting through their skin care aisles with a bounty of advanced anti-aging items with high price points.

"As supermarket operators once again look to interior departments to boost profits, skin care is getting much deserved attention. Anti-aging is constantly being mentioned in focus groups as something women want," concluded Roy White, vice president of education, General Merchandise Distributors Council, Colorado Springs, Colo. White is working on a women's well-being Educational Foundation project for the organization.

Jeff Manning, executive vice president-GMD, Fleming Cos., Dallas, says he used to worry whether skin care, especially higher-ticket products, could sell in supermarkets.

He's no longer concerned because of the large numbers of aging baby boomers who are on the prowl for anti-aging items. They are willing to pay a hefty price for those that work, he said. "Skin care is one of the great growth opportunities and an important part of women's well-being," said Manning, who serves as chairman of the GMDC.

He's not alone in his bullish stance on skin care as a viable category for supermarkets.

Gary Crawford, director of nonfood operations, at United Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, says he has beefed up the chain's skin care offering, with a concentration of products in the anti-aging segment.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's is micromarketing skin care by creating special planograms based on demand at individual stores. At stores located in ski resort areas like Park City, Utah, for example, Albertson's stocks a heavy concentration of therapeutic skin care.

Kroger Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, is said to be gearing up for the introduction of Neutrogena's new active copper-based products, Visibly Firm Night Cream and Visibly Firm Eye Cream, expected in stores next month. The products contain copper peptide, a skin firming agent previously used in the medical field for wound healing.

"This is going to be big and will be incorporated into other products," promised Michael McNamara, president of Neutrogena, Los Angeles.

Other suppliers are responding to demand for innovative anti-aging solutions with products that break through price barriers supermarkets once thought were unapproachable.

Almay is introducing Kinetin skin care. According to Vanessa Solomon, executive vice president and general manager of Almay Global Brand Equity Group, New York, Almay's Kinetin is the only Kinetin-based skin care that will be available at mass market. Using a plant-based growth factor ingredient, it provides anti-aging benefits comparable to retinal without the irritation associated with retinal and alpha hydroxy acids, she added. Suggested retail prices on items in the seven-item line range from $8.50 to $18.

Just hitting shelves this spring is L'Oreal's Revitalift Complete, an anti-wrinkle and firming treatment with pro-retinol A and par-elastyl. Its price tag is $11.99 for a 1.7-ounce jar.

This month L'Oreal also ships its Age Perfect anti-aging products under the Plenitude brand. The three items are formulated for the 40 million mature women age 50 to 70. Suggested retail price is $15.

Olay is fortifying its strong presence by extending its already strong Total Effects. Launched last year, Total Effects has been blowing off shelves at Wegmans, Meijer and Kmart, according to market reports. There is now a Total Effects with UV Protection, new Daily Cleansing Treatments all set to ship this month. Olay's total Effects retails for $19.99.

The age-old challenge for supermarket nonfood executives is how to squeeze these new introductions into somewhat limited space.

Kyle Lentz, industry analyst at D.P. Hamacher & Associates, Milwaukee, Wis., a division of San Francisco-based NONSTOP Solutions, recommended heavy editing of existing stockkeeping units. According to research from Hamacher, there are at least 3,124 skin care items with 98 new ones entering the market since last June. Of those 98, Hamaacher will planogram around 25.

"In order for new items to be planogrammed," said Lentz, "they have to have the potential to outsell 2,500 other skin care items." Lentz adds that if new products replace existing products, the choices are simple -- take one off, put one on. When manufacturers come out with line extensions and new products, the choices get tougher.

The good news for food store operators, however, is that skin care is showing glowing growth rates - giving nonfood executives some leverage in the quest to expand departments.

According to statistics for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, 2001, food store skin care sales expanded 8.9% to $402 million. Supermarkets command 22% of total skin care volume. What's more is that skin fad/age/bleach cream volume expanded 24% for the period - validating the growth of the anti-aging category. Supermarkets generated $60 million in the segment.