SLIP-SLIDIN' AWAY

"Where's the soap?"e questions we get asked most," said Steve Sorenson, health and beauty care buyer at Dan's Foods, Salt Lake City. "There's something I'd like to do here, and that's move soap to the skin care section. It's an idea I'm trying to throw around to my supervisor. If we can do it, I think it would be great."While bar soaps are considered a grocery item, and skin care is considered an

"Where's the soap?"

e questions we get asked most," said Steve Sorenson, health and beauty care buyer at Dan's Foods, Salt Lake City. "There's something I'd like to do here, and that's move soap to the skin care section. It's an idea I'm trying to throw around to my supervisor. If we can do it, I think it would be great."

While bar soaps are considered a grocery item, and skin care is considered an HBC item, these categories are becoming more closely aligned in supermarkets.

"As manufacturers market towards total skin care, retailers should consider putting soap and skin care in one area," commented Bill Swartz, senior vice president with the brokerage company MAI-Alper, Framingham, Mass.

Many supermarkets across the country are test-merchandising soap in the skin care section of the health and beauty aisle.

In New England, Stop & Shop, Quincy, Mass., and Big Y Foods, Springfield, Mass., are both testing the concept. Meanwhile, Demoulas SuperMarkets, Tewksbury, Mass., and Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass., have moved soap to HBC.

"It seems to be going fine," said Betsy Turgeon, Big Y's category manager, health and beauty care.

Ray's Food Place, Brookings, Ore., is also test-merchandising soap adjacent to skin care in the health and beauty care aisle in some of its stores. "It is improving our sales. We have seen an increase in sales of skin care products. We found that sales of soap are the same," said Dan Van Zant, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care.

Ray's Food Place is advertising both soap and skin care in its newspaper inserts.

Harps Food Stores, Springdale, Ark., now sells soap in the same section with skin care. "We started doing it over the last four or five months," said Sam Richardson, head HBC buyer. "That's the way the market is going. Shoppers are educated enough to look for soap in skin care."

Richardson said selling soap with skin care amounts to "pretty good cross merchandising. If a lady is looking at soap, she's liable to pick up a lotion."

Albertson's, Boise, Idaho, is currently experimenting with the concept of test-merchandising soap with HBC products. "It's too early to tell whether it is a success," said Jenny Enochson, media relations coordinator.

"When you have someone conditioned to going to one area of the supermarket for a product, it takes a while for them to learn to go to another section," Swartz said.