The new formulations and fragrances of antiperspirants and deodorants introduced in the past year have given retailers the chance to expand variety. Retailers told SN they have added clear solids and clear gel deodorants, as well as new fragrances in sticks and solids. The long-term performance of the clear solids and clear gels is yet to be determined, they said. "When something new comes out, people will always try it," said Rick Rogers, assistant vice president of nonfood at Basics/Metro Food Markets, Randallstown, Md., a 24-unit chain. "Gillette and Ban have gotten behind their new items with advertising. Initially we will move some product because people are willing to try it. That has been exciting. We will take advantage of the manufacturers' promotion of the new items."
The director of health and beauty care for a large East Coast
chain said clear formulations of antiperspirants and deodorants have shown a big increase, but still represent only a small share of the category, 3% to 5%. "That share could double or better this year as more manufacturers introduce their own versions. The clear gel is getting stronger," he said. "We are carrying some clear items, but I can't say at this time how they are selling. We feel it is critically [important] to promote any new items coming into the market," said Joe Doran, general merchandise and HBC office department manager at Baker's Supermarkets, Omaha, Neb., a 10-store retailer. "I don't think the gels will make a mark. The clears are doing better, but they are kind of trendy. You see clear in soft drinks and toothpaste. They may have a short life span," said Jim Lefebvre, nonfood director at Stanley Stores, Bay City, Texas, a 31-unit chain. "Clears are good," Rogers of Basics/Metro said. "The clear solids will appeal to women who have the 'don't mess my dress' attitude. The gels take some getting used to. They feel wetter. The gel will take time to catch on."
Mark Beyer, HBC buyer at Copps Corp., Stevens Point, Wis., said the clear gel introduced as part of the Gillette Series has been doing very well. Copps has 17 corporate stores and supplies more than 40 independents. "The Gillette Series line is kind of high tech, geared to certain people, but I am not sure [the gel] would fly under a different brand name," Beyer said. Some of the clear solids are doing well, but others are not so hot, Beyer said. Haggen, Bellingham, Wash., is carrying the clear solids and the gels, but Don Greene, HBC buyer, sees their future as uncertain.
"All the clears are really slow for us. They could very well be a fad. So far in this area none of the manufacturers have been willing to promote. They just want distribution," he said. "The clears will be around for a little while yet. There are a few stockkeeping units gone by the wayside already because of fragrance. Unscented would be the leader because people are allergic to different scents and there is the problem of clashing with other fragrances," said a sales representative for an HBC distributor to supermarkets in the Southeast. Rogers of Basics/Metro said, "The success of the clear formulation depends on how many manufacturers jump on the bandwagon and how long they plan on promoting it. The clear formulation could become like baking soda toothpaste, creating its own little niche." According to Lefebvre at Stanley Stores, "the introduction of new formulations really hasn't expanded the section, but it has produced some incremental sales." Ben Cassese, director of HBC, nonfood and direct-store-delivery programs at Red Apple Cos., New York, said the various formulations all seem to be selling, but the pump is the weakest. Rogers at Basics/Metro agreed. "Pumps are the smallest segment. They are going by the wayside, a dying breed. When you look at the discontinued list or slow movers, pumps are one of the first to go." The HBC director for the East Coast chain said he has discontinued all of the pumps due to lack of sales. Sticks and solids continue to lead in sales in the category, retailers told SN. "Solids and sticks are still the best sellers. Sticks and solids definitely will be about 65% to 75% of usage," said Rogers of Basics/Metro. "Solids and sticks account for about 50% of the category. Aerosols and roll-ons are another 40% to 45% but declining. We have given extra facings to sticks and solids to make room for new fragrances," said the director of HBC for an East Coast chain. "What is really exciting in the category is everything coming out of the box. That means we need less space to display the items and can dedicate more space to other areas," said Rogers of Basics/Metro. Doran of Baker's stressed the importance of promoting the category and said his chain advertises a deodorant or antiperspirant once a month. When the item is advertised, it is also given special display treatment, either on an endcap or in a shipper. "Price is not as sensitive as promotion is. We did well with a promotion of Secret and Sure. We ran an ad at a hot price and moved a lot more cases," Doran said. Lefebvre of Stanley Stores also said promotion was key to moving the category. "Retailers have to have a price that is competitive and run ad features. Some do a promotion once a month," he said.
On Top of Deordorants
Sales in the mature deodorant category remained flat at $762 million at Food stores last year. Of the top 10 best-selling brands only three, Degree, Old Spice and Suave, posted sales increases.