Winter 2015
Common Scents Sales By Sam Ujvary

Appeal to the eco-conscious customer with a variety of bath and body products.

Whether it’s a hot cup of tea or a good book, consumers are looking for small indulgences that won’t break the bank, and bath and body products fit the bill perfectly.

While many view things like massages and pedicures as a luxury, one thing that can’t be denied is that regular hygiene is not only respected but expected, which is what drives the steady value and growth of bath and body products. When you combine luxury and reasonable price points, it becomes an irresistible commodity.

Natural Sellers

2KHall06That’s proven in the numbers, as a survey by Euromonitor International revealed that the bath and shower segment is projected to reach $7.8 billion in 2018, boosted in part by growing incomes and the fact that shoppers are continuing to look for additional benefits from their bath and shower products as both a substitute for and a complement to more expensive spa visits.

They’re also no longer simply looking for products that smell nice, but also products that do something like reduce signs of aging or boast of eco-friendly ingredients. In fact, organic is not just a catch phrase; it must be proven in the ingredient list and evidenced by the vendor’s actions.

Chris Thomas of Good Body Products agreed that the biggest change in the personal body care market has been the increase in consumer awareness and demand for organic and natural product ingredients.

“Not only are consumers getting savvy to the amount of harmful chemical ingredients in their products, they are beginning to accept natural alternatives as being effective replacements for over-the-counter solutions,” Thomas said. “Consumers are reading labels and seeking pure alternatives to well-known products.”

Thomas added that the organic body care market of recent years has been referred to as the “Wild West,” as the government does not currently regulate use of the term “organic” on cosmetic products, which can make it confusing for retailers and consumers alike.

Kelley Barr of K.Hall Studio said that when it comes to organic or any claim, retailers need to be sure it is certified by an outside third party and/or that the ingredient has been certified.

“When buying a natural product, I like companies that give a percentage — like 98 percent natural and the like,” Barr said. “People should also understand the limitations of an all-natural organic product and its shelf life. It is very interesting to dissect the quality of ingredients (green, organic, natural, etc.) versus the long-lasting scent, consistency and performance of a product. These almost never go hand in hand and it’s a hard balance for any manufacturer with ethics.”

Michael DeLuca of The Naked Bee agreed that consumers can feel confident when they see products that have that third-party certification on the label. The Naked Bee’s lip balm, for example, is labeled as USDA Certified Organic. To obtain certification, they must first submit their products for evaluation and meet a certain standard. This is a convenient, trustworthy way to let consumers know that they are getting the real deal.

And as Roshan Roghani of Camille Beckman Companies added, it’s important for manufacturers to have honesty in their claims.

“As a manufacturer, your employees are your best indicator of quality since they actively take part in the making of products and understand the ingredients being used,” Roghani said. “We believe a product should only be released if our research team believes in it and is interested in using it themselves, which is a good barometer for retailers as well.”

Top-Shelf Sales

1KHallJG-spreadSo what are the items that are selling best? Many of the classics — think bar soaps, lotions and scrubs — but with added benefits that deliver more bang for the buyer’s buck, like the Good Body Products designed for therapeutic use and specialty, decorative soaps or a familiar comforting scent.

“Artisan soaps are on the rise again and I’m happy to see the trend coming back,” said Paula Lindsay of The Pass Christian Soap Co. “These soaps are popular because of the beauty they add to your customers’ décor, as well as making a bold statement in your store.”

Handmade vegetable glycerin soaps from Primal Elements are the company’s No.1 category, but Primal Elements Chief Creative Officer Faith Freeman said they’re also seeing great success with their Sugar Whip — a cleanser, scrub and moisturizer all in one.

“It’s made with pure cane sugar that’s a natural moisturizer,” Freeman said. “In addition, our Argan line of products is very strong, and we are seeing growth with our Coconut Water and Coconut Butter line of products.”

Glycerine Hand Therapy from Camille Beckman Companies is always their best seller, but recently body creams, body butters and powders are all selling extremely well.

“Our new face cream line was a home run,” Roghani said. “A lot of women are looking for consciously made, high-quality skin care formulas with natural extracts and antioxidants. Cosmetic bags are the big push right now, as people love getting something fun to match the brands and products they love.”

Show, Smell, Sample

2GBP-SalvesThere’s no substitute for experience, and that extends to offering samples of products in-store and creating a unique in-store experience for existing and potential customers.

Lindsay said the worst mistake a retailer can make is not creating a bountiful display. While bar soaps and body washes are “must-haves,” customers like to layer their scents, and as such, displays should include coordinating lotions and bath salts, along with gift sets and travel sets.

“It’s also a great idea to carry sponges, loofahs and accessories such as soap dishes,” Lindsay added. “These can be pulled together in a nice gift bag or cello bag and tied up with a ribbon or twine making a wonderful gift and increasing sales ticket amounts.”

Roghani said gaining a new bath and body customer is typically based on an impulse buy, followed by a commitment to a brand’s quality. If you don’t have inviting testers out consistently, you miss a valuable opportunity to convert a customer. Fortunately, a lot of brands offer discounted samples for events or specials on open-house event packs.

“Special event evenings like a girls’ night out are a great way to sample products in the store,” Freeman said. “We have larger tubs of our Sugar Whip that stores scoop from to give away samples in a small cup — we call this a Soapy Sundae — and this then drives the customer to purchase the retail size.”

Thomas said they always have Good Body products readily available for testing at events. In addition, they offer samples to customers that take time with them to understand their products and discuss reasons they might be seeking a product.

“We have a high conversion rate when giving a sample after a discussion versus just handing out lots of samples,” Thomas said. “We offer retailers display stands and $1 full-size testers of our products. We also include samples of our other products for retailers to give out to customers.”

She added that customers need to rely on the products that a retailer carries and trust in the selection of goods that are available. If consumers can trust in a buyer’s choice of products carried within a location, it saves them time in needing to weed through both quality and inferior products while standing in the aisle making a choice.

While it’s unrealistic to expect every store to train staff on all the items they carry, product information guides and other visual aides can help make the sale easy for the customer while teaching store staff simultaneously. Even knowing the top five selling points for a brand can make all the difference.

“We offer the option for retailers to include our mini-product brochure to distribute with our products,” Thomas said. “These brochures include our ingredients and purpose for each of our formulas.”

At the end of the day, retailers need to remind customers that these products are the best way to pamper themselves — and friends and family — without breaking the bank. And while Roghani was talking about the products themselves, this also could apply to that strategy: “If you have a formula that customers can trust and rely on, that is your best way to gain a repeat customer. Additionally, if the price is right and the packaging is beautiful you’ve hit a home run.”

Sam Ujvary

Sam is the managing editor of Gift Shop Pets, Museums & More and Party & Halloween Retailer, and is a contributing editor for Gift Shop Magazine. She has a copywriting background and has been in publishing for six years.

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