Because many alternative oral care products address special needs, the issue of integration is a challenge. Some rinses, for example, treat dry mouth; there are toothpastes without fluoride or foaming agents like sodium laurel sulfate. Can these be included in regular sets without getting lost or ignored?
Seventy-one percent of consumers say they prefer organic and natural products integrated or integrated/segregated within the aisle, according to Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group, Libertyville, Ill.
Retailers seem to agree. At Scolari's Food and Drug, a number of stores merchandise natural HBC in separate sections, but the chain has found that integrated is best for sales.
“We have most of the natural HBC integrated, and that works better. If someone is looking for toothpaste, they want all the varieties together,” said Nick Barainca, nonfood director.
In some Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets stores, natural oral care products are merchandised in a separate natural HBC section within the HBC aisles.
At one of its stores near Sanford, Fla., several natural and organic SKUs are carried both in-line and in an integrated/segregated, 4-foot set directly across the aisle from the integrated oral care items.
Integrated natural products include Dr. Katz TheraBreath Oral Spray with tea tree oil and peppermint oil and Biotene Dry Mouth toothpaste. In the adjacent natural HBC section, the highlighted oral care brands include Jason Healthy Mouth mouthwash, The Natural Dentist Healthy Gums Oral Rinse, and Tom's of Maine toothpaste for adults and children.
Ukrop's Super Markets, Richmond, Va., has stepped up its merchandising in the natural and organic oral care section by integrating it into the regular set. Vendors, eager for mainstream exposure, have been pushing for integration and were helpful in creating new planograms. At Ukrop's, Tom's of Maine and other natural oral care products were recently reset into the regular displays. As a result, Ukrop's had to sacrifice some Tom's of Maine SKUs.
“It was more important to the manufacturer to be in the standard oral care set with lost SKUs than be in the natural and organic section,” Lilly said.
Progressive retailers have integrated natural oral care sections averaging 8 to 16 feet, but that is the exception, according to Jay Jacobowitz, president of Retail Insights, a consulting firm in Brattleboro, Vt.
“It's kind of an orphan category right now. Ninety percent or more of conventional supermarkets have a handful of SKUs of Tom's of Maine toothpaste, and leave it at that,” he said.