The importance of natural HBC can be swiftly gauged by the November decision of Clorox Co., Oakland, Calif., to buy iconic natural personal care brand Burt's Bees, Morrisville, N.C. With the $925 million purchase, Clorox Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald Knauss said the company's priority will be to increase distribution of the natural personal care brand, particularly in the grocery channel.
In a call on the topic, Knauss pointed out the opportunity for acceleration in grocery, meaning, Burt's Bees or not, there is room to be made for natural HBC in supermarkets.
“Natural HBC is just really taking purchase now,” said Al Jones, senior vice president, procurement and merchandising, Imperial Distributors, Auburn, Mass.
Many of the distributor's supermarket clients have separate natural food sets within the stores, and when natural beauty items are included in this area they generally do well, he said.
“With natural beauty care products, it's about touching and feeling, trying the products and seeing what they're like. Customers don't need to be sold as much on natural beauty care as they do on natural health products.”
One way to capitalize on the impulse nature of these items is to call them out in separate alcoves, kiosks or endcaps, retailers said. At Kowalski's Markets, an 11-store chain based in St. Paul, Minn., natural HBC brands like Indigo Wild, Kansas City, Mo., and EO, Corte Madera, Calif., sell well when given such space, said Debbie Leland, natural and gourmet foods buyer for the company.
“We like to carry clean HBC products. Some of the lines are from very small companies that you wouldn't see in other supermarkets.”
Promotions should revolve around educating the customer, whether through having a skilled cosmetologist or nutrition expert on staff, using an informational kiosk, or having educational signage or information on the store's website, industry sources told SN.
A good place to start is with the pharmacist, said Schuyler Lininger, president and chief executive officer of health information kiosk provider Healthnotes, Portland, Ore., in a presentation given earlier this year. “Consumers want demonstrations, shelf signs and pharmacists who will make suggestions. The more people you have on the floor that know what they're talking about, the more products you're going to sell.”