As consumers’ lives get busier, the large supermarkets account for a growing proportion of personal care purchases, stealing sales from the high street pharmacies and drug stores traditionally strong in these items.

bill-new-greyBut the rise of convenience format supermarkets operated by the major chains in urban locations also presents new opportunities for the multiple grocers to increase their personal care sales, especially to older consumers and single males.

In the classic large supermarket, the choice of products on offer in the broader personal care area is vast. It takes in toiletry-related products such as beauty and cosmetics, body care, cosmetics, facial skincare, sun care, fragrances, soap and shower, oral care and toiletries at one end, and natural remedies and OTC medicines at the other.

Walking around the typical supermarket these product categories are, logically enough, merchandised to the consumers with the most money to spend in this area and the greatest inclination to do so, namely parents of young families and younger women. True, there are plenty of shaving and grooming products for younger males. But the multiples are missing a trick in personal care sales to engage two key consumer groups, single adult males and the over 55’s of both sexes.

In the same breath the supermarkets’ convenience format stores, which have been popping up in urban locations in recent years, are a natural opportunity for selling personal care products to single adult males, especially if they have the space to offer a wider selection than the independent convenience stores they compete with. But on the present showing the clarity and the range of the convenience format stores’ personal care and non-food offer leaves room for improvement.

Part of the problem is that shopping is a chore for many single males, especially if they are newly single and have other more pressing priorities such as working and organising their lives. Faced with a limited selection of ‘signal’ brands in the personal care aisle in their local convenience format supermarket, they will grab the products they are most familiar with and leave feeling disappointed.

Our ageing population offers both larger supermarkets and convenience format stores a major opportunity to maximize their sales of personal care products. But it takes understanding of the consumer. For the over 55’s, the main motivation is to go on looking as good as possible and feeling well and staying active for the next few decades. Marketers need to understand this population better as the current cohort of early retirees and soon to be retireds enjoy better health than their parents and have more disposable income than their children and grandchildren.

Despite older people being the most likely to agree that moisturising their body is important, according to Mintel usage of body care products is comparatively low amongst the over-55s. This is a market with a natural interest in such categories as anti-ageing skin creams and toothpastes and brushes for sensitive teeth. This age group has more leisure time and many are actively engaged in exercising and keeping fit but again their regular usage of foot care products, another important part of the personal care market, could be extended by better merchandising.

Finally, at this time of year, suncare is important for consumers of all ages. As Jack Duckett, Mintel’s Consumer Lifestyles Analyst points out, usage of suncare protection continues to be dependent on the weather, with value directly in line with sunshine levels. Merchandising these products with the skincare category going into the autumn will keep them front of mind with shoppers as an integral part of the family’s skincare routine.

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