Health and beauty aid (HBA) is a destination category, which means consumers coming into a c-store are looking for immediate relief.
The key to maximizing sales is to have what consumers need — clearly and conveniently displayed, often in a single-use package.
The category has taken a hit during the pandemic, as many people stayed home from their typical travels and routines. According to Madeline Burbach, communications specialist with NielsenIQ, HBA sales across the convenience store channel for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 20, 2021, topped $1.6 billion, down 2.9% over the previous year.
Still, some products have seen strong sales. Among the top-selling product categories under the HBA banner were pain relief, at more than $348.2 million, up 6.2%; vitamins and supplements, with sales topping $284 million, a 9.3% year-to-year increase; oral hygiene, at more than $128 million, a 4.8% rise; and GI care, with sales of more than $124 million, up 9.6%.
In addition to strong margins, good placement is critical and often means an endcap close to the checkout.
Sam Odeh, president of Power Energy Corp. in Elmhurst, Ill., said he has long approached the HBA category as a destination. His executive team has identified and merchandised three types of “key destinations” in their stores: essentials, necessities and care center.
Julie Mitchell, Chief of Public Relations – Executive Group (EG) for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), said men’s grooming continues to be a hot trend in her stores.
“The attitudes toward grooming and trying new products are evolving and creating new opportunities,” she said. “There is a different perception of premium. Health and ethical claims are the new status symbols versus luxury.”
However, getting consumers to purchase their beauty and healthcare products from the convenience sector will be a challenge,” added Khalid Peerbaccus, senior innovation researcher for GlobalData.
“According to GlobalData’s Q2 2021 consumer survey, only one in 10 (9%) consumers in the U.S. say that they typically purchase their healthcare products from convenience stores,” he said, “and a similar number (8%) say this about beauty and grooming products.”
That said, Peerbaccus added, there is still wide demand for branded products, with the majority of consumers (51%) preferring products from foreign/global multi-national brands.
“As many consumers at convenience stores often make purchases based on impulse or necessity rather than pre-planned household shops,” he noted, “it is important that convenience stores focus on popular, established brands that are easily identifiable, trusted by consumers, and have a strong shelf presence.”