WITH PASSAGE OF THE Combat Methamphetamine Act this fall, products containing the replacement ingredient phenylephrine, or PE, were moved onto the HBC shelves filling the slot of displaced pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products. Research was cited in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showing that PE is not as effective an alternative; however, the convenience of having it available on store shelves kept sales alive, retailers told SN.
“Consumers are not understanding that Sudafed PE is not the same as [PSE-containing] Sudafed,” said Al Jones, senior vice president of procurement and merchandising for Imperial Distributors, Auburn, Mass. “And that's part of the reason Sudafed PE is doing so well.”
Men's HBC products also did well this year. The cologne/lotion segment led the way with deodorant sprays, such as Axe and Tag, intended for young men. Meanwhile, traditional shaving products have expanded into higher-tech and higher-priced shaving systems.
Some retailers see this as one manifestation of the trend toward affordable luxury in HBC, which was reflected in the packaging of many of this year's products. “We are upscaling the supermarket brands of bath and body,” said Charles Yahn, vice president of merchandising, Associated Wholesalers Inc., York, Pa. Mass markets are seeing resurgence in quality and price points, he said.
Natural and upscale concepts, often packaged in elegant glass or plastic, are growing in popularity and retailers should carry a mix of national brands offering these features as well as develop private-label products along those lines, sources told SN.
“Something should be developed that competes functionally and from a standpoint of packaging ambiance,” said Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group, Libertyville, Ill.
However, a number of intellectual property lawsuits were filed against private-label health and beauty care manufacturers, many by Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, for trademark and trade dress infringement concerning packaging.
None of the suits named the retailers associated with the products in question. Still, retailers were urged by designers and consultants to come up with private-label concepts exclusive to their store.
“We try to make our products not ‘me too,’ but a solution that is unique to us,” said Regina Tator, director of corporate brands for Price Chopper Supermarkets, Schenectady, N.Y.