Within your convenience store, health and beauty items probably fall way down your list of priorities. After all they’re not a daily purchase or even a major footfall driver. However they do matter if you want your store to be a one-stop shop. Yes, serious shoppers will go to Boots or Superdrug and most other people will get their regular supplies from the supermarkets, but there will always be distress purchase occasions when the shaving foam or shampoo has run out.

But first of all, consumers need to know that you actually stock health and beauty items. Unilever’s merchandising manager, Nick Widdowson, explains: "Although every household in the UK buys into the health and beauty market, 18% of UK shoppers do not know that toiletries are sold in their local convenience store. This category could therefore prove to be very valuable to independent forecourt retailers, so it is very important that shoppers can firstly see the category, and then identify the different areas within the category."

According to TNS research, the average shopper spends more than £100 a year on toiletries, while HIM data says that toiletry shoppers visit their local store more times per week and spend 30% per trip more than the average convenience store customer.

Brands are obviously important to signpost the category. Earlier this year Key Note commissioned a survey where just over 1,000 consumers were asked which toiletry brands they used. Colgate came out top, with nearly 70% of respondents saying they regularly used it, second was Gillette and third Dove.

When it comes to types of products, Key Note found that the most common hair care product used by both men and women was shampoo followed by conditioner, with 98% of women using shampoo and 93% of men using it. Seventy four per cent of women use conditioner and just 32% of men. With hair styling products, 52% of women and 30% of men use them with usage prevalent among young men aged 15-25.

Of other toiletries, toothpaste, deodorant and face creams/lotions were the most used items by women with scores of 96%, 95% and 86% respectively. For men, toothpaste came top with 95% of men using it, followed by razors/razor blades/electric shavers used by 94% of men and deodorant used by 90%.

Key Note valued the UK toiletries market at £4.27bn in 2007, up 2.3% on 2006 figures. The market breaks down into five categories: personal wash and bathroom toiletries, accounting for 27% of sales or £1.17bn; hair care with 26% of sales, worth £1.1bn; skin care with 25%, worth £1.06bn; oral care with 13%, worth £550m; and shaving with 9%, worth £380m.

Key Note says discounting is a problem in the personal wash and bathroom toiletries sector which means that increased sales for one brand come at the expense of another. In addition, value growth in shower gels and liquid soaps has been offset by a decline in the sales value of bars of soap and talcum powders.

Within hair care, shampoo accounted for just under a third of sales in 2007, but again it is a category where heavy discounting and ’buy one, get one frees’ are frequent, therefore limiting potential market growth.

Because toiletries are usually a distress purchase within forecourts, pricing is not a big issue but obviously retailers need to be aware of what’s happening in other trade sectors.

Colgate Palmolive is one company that is helping independent retailers who want to be seen to be competitive by offering a range of pricemarked packs.

Products including Colgate toothpaste and Palmolive shower gels are available in £1 flashed packs.

Key Note reports that the skin care products sector, which includes sun care, is doing well, with 2007 sales up 8.5% on the previous year. It was sun care products that drove this growth such as Johnson’s Holiday Skin as well as premium-priced anti-ageing formulations and male facial skin care products.

Oral care is a sector where household penetration is high, so our growing population helps sales. However its value is hindered once again by a high level of discounting and ’buy one, get one frees’.

The good news is that manufacturers are continuing to try and reposition toothpaste as a beauty product rather than just a commodity, by emphasising things like whitening properties.

Finally, Key Note forecasts that our growing population, product development (in particular in anti-ageing creams), the green/organic trend and the growth of male grooming products will all help drive value growth in the toiletries sector.

As such it expects sales to increase by 10% to 2012 when the market will reach £4.79bn.


=== Get it right ===

* Make customers aware that you stock toiletries - many shoppers don’t realise they can buy toiletries in a forecourt store, so place them where they can be seen.

* Use point-of-sale material to signpost the fixture - shoppers are often in a hurry and need to find what they want quickly. Try using window posters to advertise your range as well as in-store signage and POS.

* Stock the best sellers - people look for brands even as a distress purchase.

* Clearly divide the fixture into sections - this can be a complicated fixture to shop, so it is important that it is merchandised logically. Men, in particular, are more comfortable if their products are separated from women’s ranges.

* Block vertically by brand - people are very loyal to particular brands. So keep shelves full and double-face the best-selling lines even if this means removing some of the slower-selling brands.

Source: Unilever Partners for Growth


=== Brand news ===

* GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSK) has launched an advanced formulation of paracetamol called Panadol Advance in 500mg tablets. The tablets contain a new disintegration system called Optizorb, which enables them to disperse more quickly than ordinary paracetamol and start tackling pain sooner. They are available on general sale in a 16-tablet ’compack’ pack with a rrp of £1.45. These new packs replace the compack Panadol Tablet 16s pack.

* GSK is continuing to support Beechams with the ’Fight Back’ campaign running until mid February across TV, radio and outdoor media. The 30-second TV ad is a spoof history documentary first screened last year featuring hero Brian single-handedly taking on an army of cold and flu symptoms with the help of Beechams All in One. The TV will be reinforced by an outdoor campaign, with tube and train posters in London and the South East for the first two weeks of December, and 48-sheet posters at road and rail terminals throughout January. Radio advertising in conjunction with news and weather spots during December and January will complete the media support package, which amounts to a £4.5m spend.

* From January, Lynx will be available in a new portable pocket-sized pack. Brand owner Unilever reckons new Lynx Bullet - which measures just under 8cm - will create a new usage occasion (any time, day or night) and add incremental growth to the category. It will be available in three fragrances: dark temptation, vice and Lynx’s new 2009 variant, instinct. Rrp is 99p. The launch is backed by an £8m media spend.

* Wyeth Consumer Healthcare has been running a ’12 packs for the price of 11’ offer on Anadin Extra in cash and carries across the country. In addition Wyeth staff are working in partnership with cash and carries to run special promotional days to highlight deals to retailers and provide guidance on the healthcare impulse sector.