Stepping up

Industry observers say grocers can have success in foot care by mirroring the SKUs of other channels and carrying the most popular sizes.

By Craig Levitt

From athlete’s foot and nail fungus to blisters and bunions, foot ailments are common among Amer­ican adults. Yet, according to industry research about 50% of those suffering from foot pain fail to seek treatment. Some cite that foot pain either comes with the territory of being on one’s feet all day. For the older population, it is simply accepted as one of the realities of aging.

“Retailers should have an understanding of each specialty section and consumer purchase drivers,” says Jennifer Hornstein marketing manager for Miami-based Kramer Labora­tories, makers of the new Fungi-Nail pen brush. “Supe­r­markets have been doing well and have increased [sales] roughly 5% based on the [SymphonyIRI Group] data.”

Hornstein adds that in the nail antifungal category sales at food, drug and dollar channels appear to be growing. The drug channel has been particularly strong, she says, noting that the Fungi-Nail pen brush has increased by almost 160% in national chains.

Overall, the category has seen mixed results. According to the Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, foot care products accounted for more than $614 million in sales at food, drug and mass retailers (excluding Walmart) for the 52 week period ended Dec. 26, down 2.7% from the previous year. Broken down, foot care/athlete’s foot medication is up 2.7% while foot care devices are down 6.4%.

Since purchases in this category are generally made based on necessity, observers say that it is imperative for retailers to carry the proper mix at the right price to generate sales. Staying up-to-date on product innovation is also important.

“Grocery stores selection should mirror the SKUs sold by chain drug and mass retailers, keeping to one facing per SKU and perhaps carrying only the most popular size,” says Carol Buck, CEO of the Princeton, N.J.-based Xenna Corp., makers of the NonyX Nail Gel, designed to clear out discoloring keratin debris under the nail, and CalleX Ointment, an exfoliant/moisturizer product which she says has grown in the grocery channel. “There is no reason for grocery stores to believe that their shoppers have different foot needs than those who might purchase the foot care needs at drug stores or Walmart.”

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