Magazine article Drug Topics

Deodorants Category Needs Very Careful Management

Magazine article Drug Topics

Deodorants Category Needs Very Careful Management

Article excerpt

WIth the myriad deodorant/antiperspirant items available today, category management is key. Using a supplier's management scheme or one from the wholesaler, the best approach is to stock the best-sellers but constantly remove slow-sellers to accommodate innovative new products.

Starting with Arrid Cream in the 1950s, current trends pattern themselves after history. Technological advances are developed, promoted, copied, then superseded. In the '70s, aerosols' share of the category doubled and quadrupled until it reached 80%. Then sales plummeted, on information that chlorofluorocarbon propellants cause ozone layer damage.

Roll-ons were next to become popular, later to be eclipsed by sticks, solids, and the most recent innovation, clear gels, now the fastest-growing segment. Nonwhitening antiperspirant sticks and baking soda products have also helped drive category sales; in 1995, deodorant sales experienced a 4.4% increase.

According to Information Resources Inc., sales for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, 1996, rose a scant 0.5% to $1.4 billion-indicating that the next growth phase is probably just starting. Last year, the 7.7% increase in mass-merchandisers sales were largely the result of decreasing sales in food stores and drugstores.

Mass-merchandisers took $524.6 million in sales last year, according to IRI. Drugstore sales totaled $335 million, a 5.7% decline; sales in food stores declined 1.6%, to $589.5 million. Food stores have the largest market share: 41%. Mass-merchandisers can claim a 36% share of the deodorants market, and drugstores have a 23% share.

For both consumers and retailers, the large number of brands, scents, and new products results in confusion. The top three brands-Secret, Right Guard, and Arrid-account for less than one-third of total sales. The top 10 brands account for slightly more than 75% of sales.

Estimates on the number of Americans who use antiperspirants/deodorants range from 93% to 98%. In general, form is more important to consumers than brand loyalty. Based on a Nielsen segmentation study, the purchase decision tree follows this order: benefit (antiperspirant/deodorant), gender, form, brand, scent, and, finally, size.

It appears that choice of form is determined largely by the innovative item introduced at the time the user bought his/her first antiperspirant/deodorant. One study advised caution in removing all aerosols from a store's shelves; these products are still popular with older users.

Here are three other important statistics regarding benefit and form: Approximate ly 40% of males use deodorant-only products-translating into about 20% of total category sales; solids make up about 54% of sales; and finally, the scents accounting for approximately 75% of antiperspirant/ deodorant sales are regular/original, unscented, powder, and fresh/clean.

It's the appeal of sticks that two manufacturers are counting on for the success of products they introduced late last year-products claiming to solve the problem of white residue: Colgate-Palmolive's Lady Speed Stick Invisible Dry, the first white antiperspirant stick to leave no white residue; and Gillette's Right Guard Clear Stick and Gillette Series Clear Stick, said to be the first clear antiperspirant/ deodorant sticks. Procter & Gamble's Sure Clear Dry and Secret Sheer Solid were expected to be introduced during the first or second quarter of 1997. Attempts to switch consumers to gels produced a new delivery system for Chesebrough-Pond's Brut clear gel and a faster-drying formula for Carter-Wallace's Arrid XX Clear Gel. …

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