Bringing Health and Beauty Care Back to C-Stores

Although health & beauty care can be a tough sell in the convenience channel, retailers who appropriately target customers and carry the proper inventory can increase turns and profits.

Today, health and beauty products are relegated to between four and eight feet of mainly sample sizes of medicine brands and travel sizes of health and beauty care items in this channel. Rather than putting these products to the wayside, signs point to a missed opportunity for retailers in this segment.

Facing fierce competition from drug stores and dollar retailers, c-stores must craft tailored strategies to appeal to and convert potential HBC shoppers.

In its nine locations, Grand Forks, N.D.-based Valley Dairy Convenience Stores doesn’t carry a wide array of HBC items, aside from cold medicine, aspirin and shampoo.

“This section doesn’t take up much more than 12 feet of space, and this includes our school supplies, which are under the same umbrella,” said Monica Musich, Valley Dairy’s CEO and president.

Despite this space shrinkage, these products are selling in c-stores.

According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, a number of HBC categories in c-stores showed growth in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2016. These include gastrointestinal tablets and liquid, cold/allergy/sinus tablets and liquids, cough drops, sanitary napkins/tampons, soap, hair conditioner, deodorant, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush/dental accessories, razors, first aid treatment, suntan products and lip treatment.

“When c-stores started selling sample sizes of aspirin and analgesics, people thought it would hurt their businesses, but it has only helped them and now these items represent a big portion of sales in this channel,” said Cline. “Customers looking for one dose can go to the c-store and pay less than it would cost for an entire bottle.”

Consequently, boxed or sample sizes are on the rise, with a typical c-store carrying between eight and 10 different lines in HBC, Cline said.

The same is true for beauty aids, like toothpaste and hairspray. For those seeking a quick or temporary solution, the spend is less than a full-size item, yet the profit for the retailer is there for the taking. “Both the gondola drug packages and the sample or small box programs of beauty items have helped bring this category back to life,” said Cline.

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