There may be no single product sub-category in a convenience store that embodies the concept of convenience as well as travel-size health and beauty aid (HBA) items, which are designed to let consumers sprint through their lives without breaking stride.
That’s why it makes so much sense for c-stores to keep them in stock.
While purchases of items like candy, chips, beer and coffee may well be impulse-driven, HBA products are more often than not driven by a specific need. The category took a hit during the height of the pandemic, as Americans looked to consolidate their shopping trips, often didn’t go to the office or take their kids to school and were reluctant to go into stores in general.
“C-stores are for convenience; that’s what people go in for,” reasoned veteran convenience store retailer Amer Hawatmeh, who divested his 52 Coast to Coast c-stores and recently moved operations to California and introduced his first Coast to Coast Bodega in Santa Clarita. “When they need something now and don’t want to go to a Walgreens, etc., they stop in ours stores.”
“Purchases of travel-size items in a c-store are typically purchased to fulfill an immediate need,” confirmed Steven Montgomery, president of b2b Solutions LLC in Lake Forest, Ill. “Most c-store don’t carry many, if any, regular-size HBA items. If a store doesn’t carry something that fulfills that need the customer will seek one the does. The retailer loses that sale and the opportunity to sell any other items the customer may have purchased.”
Case in point: travel-size health and beauty aid items fit a specific need for active-duty military personnel, who are often on the move, said Kye Corn, divisional merchandise manager for AAFES.
“Travel-size and trial products are located in Exchange stores on a planogram specific to that category,” Corn noted. “Sizes vary by product but remain within Transportation Security Administration regulations. They tend to sell well using an everyday low price approach, with the best-selling price point is $2.50 and below.”
Popular products in travel-size packages include grooming items, and single-dose over the counter (OTC) products, pain relief, vitamins and supplements, oral hygiene, men’s grooming and gastrointestinal care. For consumers stopping quickly to pick up a needed item, brand names play an important role.
Stores near schools can benefit by having the items for which parents can dash in and give to the kids on their way to class, such as individual packs of tissues, and portable containers of things like hand sanitizers and cosmetics. By the same logic, a c-store close to a construction site will do well with first-aid and skin-care items. Those near office buildings, where people mix in a formal atmosphere, will want a good supply of grooming items.