Young at heart

To ease the aging process, Baby Boomers have been driving sales of everything from vitamins to sexual health products.

By Howard Riell

The much ballyhooed graying of the Baby Boom generation has been one of the primary engines  driving supermarket HBC sales, according to ob­servers. They say it behooves grocers to know which segments are hot with this demographic so that they can better serve shoppers and maximize profits.

From such conventional items as soap and deodorant to anti-aging products, vitamins and sexual health and wellness, this group wants to stay young, strong and vibrant.

Observers say that supermarket retailers need to look at the lifestyle trends of an aging, increasingly health-conscious population to get a firmer grasp on shopping trends. We take a look at some of the top segments for Baby Boomers.

Beauty and cosmetics
Beauty and cosmetics products have seen good growth over the last 12 months “as women want to not only feel good but look good,” says Keith Wypyszynski, vice president of business development and chief member officer for the Global Market Development Center (GMDC), based in Colorado Springs, Colo.

More specifically, cosmetic areas of eye and nail are both up over 8%, and facial is up over 6% in both food and drug. Growth in products that keep skin healthy, anti-aging and natural/organic segments “are leading the way in personal care areas such as body care, including bath products,” Wypyszynski adds. Hair color has continued to show strong growth, up more than 5% during this period.

Wypyszinski says Baby Boomers also want to protect their skin from the aging effects of the sun, and sales in the sun products category have risen by more than 10% due to product enhancement, new products, self tanning and delivery systems.

Skin care
So-called anti-aging products have seen sales rise steadily for some time. According to research from the Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group Inc., sales of anti-aging products have has exceeded the performance of the prestige skin care sector as a whole. Chicago-based research firm Mintel International estimated the size of the anti-aging skin care market in the U.S. at about $2 billion in 2010. Among the top products are topical lotions and eye creams, skin-rejuvenating nutraceuticals and supplements and makeup that offers sun protection and anti-aging ingredients.

Shane Tidwell, senior manager of trade marketing for Ft. Worth, Texas-based Galderma USA, expects a growth spurt in the near future. Higher-priced items that satisfy enough of an unmet consumer need to encourage consumers to trade up will spark sales, he says.

Galderma’s Cetaphil line of skin cleansers and moisturizers has reportedly grown by double-digits over the past 52 weeks. “That’s compared to the skin care category growing only about a point and a half,” Tidwell adds. Its CeraVe product is also seeing growth.

Tidwell says that grocers can gain the most from the category by adding more premium shelf space and choosing to offer less frequent but deeper promotions, such as buy one, get one 50% off.

Roger DeFrang, vice president of sales for Dickinson Brands/Humphreys Pharmacal, based in East Hampton, Conn., sees the acne category as being among the hottest in HBC, especially for Baby Boomers. “Acne is not just something that teenagers have anymore,” says DeFrang. “Adults have acne issues, too.” Dickinson’s witch hazel products have benefited from the trend since witch hazel is an astringent, and thus part of the skin cleansing process.

Preventative measures
Products designed to prevent or lessen the effects of specific health conditions continue to be a priority for the consumer, according to Nick J. Rini, vice president of global sales for Amerifit Brands, based in Cromwell, Conn. One of Amerifit’s strategies is to expand into categories it feels it can enhance, lead and grow with science-based innovation supported by an aggressive long-term investment.

“We see a greater consumer interest in preventative options in health and wellness,” says Rini. By partnering with retailers, Amerifit co-develops integrated marketing plans. On-shelf consumer education and retailer-specific programs are designed to spur trial.

Amerifit, a wholly owned subsidiary of DSM NV,  recently launched BrainStrong as a “new category” of over-the-counter brain-health supplements. According to the company, the product has been clinically proven to protect the brain against normal cognitive decline in people age 55 and older by restoring DHA omega-3, considered an essential brain nutrient as well as a key nutrient for eye and heart health.

Vitamins
B vitamins have been enjoying tremendous popularity of late, according to Gary Pigott, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Miami Lakes, Fla.-based Mason Vitamins, and he expects the segment to remain hot with Baby Boomers. Much of the credit goes to research that reinforces all of the beneficial claims that have been touted by manufacturers. He points to B-6 as an example. “It’s not just a B vitamin sitting on the shelf,” he says. “Everybody relates to B vitamins mainly for energy, but those who are researching the causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s are noticing that B vitamins are pretty much depleted in patients suffering from these illnesses.”

Sexual health
“One of the hottest HBC categories in grocery is sexual health and wellness,” notes Kate Sollecito, brand manager, sexual health and well-being for Ansell Healthcare, based in Red Bank, N.J. The male condom category has become a catalyst for expansion into adjacent products such personal lubricants-another growing category-and personal body massagers.

As the stigmas surrounding personal-pleasure products are fading, drugstore and mass merchant retailers have embraced this category by adding an entire range of products for overall sexual well being, explains Sollecito. “It is just a matter of time before the grocery stores begin to take advantage of this opportunity, and we have seen many grocery retailers already doing so,” she says.

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