Magazine article Drug Topics

Like Sand at the Shore, Sun Care Items Abound

Magazine article Drug Topics

Like Sand at the Shore, Sun Care Items Abound

Article excerpt

Sales of suntan, sunscreen, and sunblock products were up 2.4% and totaled $393,494,208 through drugstores, food stores, and mass-merchandisers in 1995, according to Information Resources Inc. Drugstore sales of these products amounted to $173,179,136, down 3.3% from the previous year, but drugstores captured 44% of the market.

In the 1990s, specialty niches have been responsible for much of the sun care category's growth. For example, the children's and sport segments--created by products introduced between 1989 and 1991--generated almost 20% of the category's 1995 sales.

As important as these successful new items are, the total number of new SKUs introduced each year poses sun care's biggest challenge to retailers. There were 213 new sun care items launched in 1993, and 191 in 1994. That's a lot, when you consider that the optimum number of sun care SKUs for most drugstores ranges from 110 to 220. Since 1990, more than 140 new SKUs have been introduced by just four of the brands commonly stocked by drugstores (Coppertone, Bain de Soleil, Hawaiian Tropic, and Banana Boat).

Less than half the items introduced in 1993 were able to improve their sales in 1994. Sound new item decisions are based on multiple information resources such as store point-of-sale histories. For stores without POS data, wholesaler purchase histories and velocity information are helpful, as are data on 1995 nationwide chain drug movement.

But wise choices demand more than last year's sales histories. Retailers must know which subcategories are growing, which brands are gaining market share, which SKUs are moving up in category rankings, and how demographics could affect the market. Manufacturers' reputations for thorough market research, accurate data interpretation, effective consumer and retail marketing plans, and "no-hassle" return policies are also important. In addition, new-item candidates should be tested by the following criteria: Is the item truly new, or is it a copy of an existing product? Does it fulfill an unmet consumer need? Will it compete in a new or growing subcategory? Has the manufacturer committed sufficient marketing resources?

How a sun care product is merchandised and where a store is situated also affect new-item selection. The department should be merchandised by brand first, then product type. …

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