C-stores are succeeding at the HBA category with smaller-portioned items and natural and organic options, among others.
Convenience store consumers will always appreciate being able to swoop into a nearby store to grab a cosmetic or healthcare item to solve a momentary need.
Increasingly, they are opting for natural and organic products, making the health and beauty aids (HBA) still a strategic category that retailers need to plan for.
Consumers’ need for lip-care products, cold medicines and vitamins without having to wait makes c-stores a natural go-to channel for this category. C-store sales of cold/allergy/sinus tablets and packets topped $151 million for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 30, 2018, according to IRI, a Chicago-based research firm. Mineral supplements rose an impressive 25.4% to $97 million during the same period.
Sales of internal analgesics exceeded $398 million, up 2.4% over 2017.
Anthony Bock, a retail expert in Las Vegas, urged c-store operators to stock and merchandise their HBA categories to complement each store’s unique location and clientele.
“It all comes down to location and what their customers are looking for,” Bock said. For example, a local 7-Eleven down the street from an apartment complex offered larger-sized packages for regular customers, while stores nearer the Vegas Strip stocked smaller-sized SKUs.
“The c-stores also do better with private-label items because they offer a better return on investment,” Bock said.
Amer Hawatmeh, president of St. George Oil Inc., operator of six Coast to Coast convenience stores in greater St. Louis, Mo., called HBA one of his best-selling categories.
“With all of these smaller-portioned items, it has been perfect for our industry,” Hawatmeh said. “That’s what we have really focused on, all the two-pack stuff and depending, obviously, on the area: picking up the suntan lotion in the summertime, and—in my city locations, where people get on those scooters and frequently crash—we are selling bandages and Neosporin and things of that nature.”
Convenience stores are becoming a prime solution for patrons who want a retail remedy—but in small packages.
“Other than controlling the category so it doesn’t walk, it’s actually been a top category, especially because many companies took away their large sizes,” Hawatmeh sad. “Like DayQuil went away from the big boxes to convenience boxes. When people need it, they know where to get it now.”