These HBC innovators continue to keep retailers and consumers looking and feeling their best.
Healthcare costs in the U.S. continue to climb at breakneck speeds. As a result, consumers are embracing the health and beauty care departments of their local grocery stores to try and manage their personal care needs in a more cost effective manner.
More often than not, this means utilizing the store’s staff, especially those from the in-store pharmacy, for their knowledge of and familiarity with the products on the shelf. As a result, retailers are buying themselves a bit of insurance, so to speak, by lining their shelves with cutting-edge products from leading brands, industry observers say.
Manufacturers are embracing the vast opportunity to solve consumers’ HBC needs in-store. Retailers that embrace these top trends towards convenience, new formats and usage occasions and natural living will see the biggest resurgence at the shelves, observers add.
Healthcare products are not the only ones experiencing a renaissance on the shelves. As consumers continue to watch their wallets, they have cut back on expensive beauty services, opting for the more economical do-it-yourself route.
Grocery Headquarters’ editors and its Board of Retailers recognizes and honors the ongoing dedication of the many health and beauty care manufacturers contributing to the success of their respective categories.
We present our 2014 Health and Beauty Care Trailblazer Awards.
When the mother daughter team of Francine and Carinne Chambers set out in 2001 to create a healthier, more sustainable feminine hygiene product, they did not expect to revolutionize the category they way they have. By 2003, the DivaCup was born and both consumers and retailers were embracing its innovative design and conscientious function.
Made from medical grade silicone, the DivaCup is free of chemicals, plastic and dyes. It can be worn for up to 12 hours and is leak-free, giving women more flexibility and freedom than traditional feminine hygiene products. Additionally, it is clean, comfortable and easy to use, say company officials. Renowned for its reusable nature, the DivaCup also eliminates the waste produced from tampons and pads.
“For the past 10 years Diva International has been working closely within the industry and its retail and distributor partners to provide women with a better period care experience and to grow the category,” says Nina Henry, business development manager for the Kitchener, Ont., Canada-based company. “Every process, from manufacturing to packaging to distribution and sales contributes to our company’s commitment to providing sustainable period care options to women worldwide, making us a leader in the sustainable feminine hygiene category.”
Sales of The DivaCup in dollars and units are growing at double-digit rates for same store sales, thus contributing real growth to the category, Henry adds. For retailers, the brand generates higher sales dollars and higher product margins than traditional feminine hygiene products. The DivaCup also delivers higher dollar spend from each consumer while capturing an entire year’s worth of spend in one transaction. “Retailers who sell The DivaCup are satisfying growing consumer demand and will position themselves as innovators and leaders in the feminine hygiene category,” says Henry.
In 1903, long before prescription medications dominated the healthcare industry, eight pharmacists joined together to create the Standard Homeopathic Co. In the past 111 years, those pharmacists’ commitment to making natural and safe homeopathic medicines available to its customers and finding solutions to their health needs has only served to strengthen the company and fuel its continued innovation. Today the Los Angeles-based company is known simply as Hyland’s.
“Medicines are increasingly complex. Prescription drugs are more prevalent and the costs of healthcare are skyrocketing. The need for medicines that are natural, affordable, effective and available without a prescription is greater than ever,” says Les Hamilton, executive vice president. “Hyland’s is there to meet that need.”
Some 50 years ago, then-company president Cecil Craig discovered that his daughter couldn’t swallow pills and, as a result, the groundbreaking quick-dissolve tablet format was born. Since then, many families have enjoyed the benefit of these “quick-dissolving tablets” that are easy and safe to take, especially for the company’s youngest consumers, infants, add company officials.
From its Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets to its cough and cold medicines, Hyland’s has medicines that are designed to help relieve symptoms afflicting infants. Today, Hyland’s has further extended its Hyland’s Baby line with additional cold and cough medicines for babies as young as six months and added to its Hyland’s 4 Kids line, offering solutions for children ages two to 12 years old. These line extensions include much more specific symptom relief to address the unique nature of colds in children.
Drawing from its century old history, the Jakemans Throat & Chest brand has the ability to reconnect consumers to a time when relief often came from natural remedies found at the local apothecary. Founded in 1907 in Boston, England, Jakemans quickly became one of the top selling brands in the U.K. After being acquired by Gloucester, U.K.-based LanesHealth in 2007, the brand launched in the U.S. and has been well-received by American consumers looking for soothing relief from coughs, colds, and allergy symptoms, says Denis Cronin, U.S. master broker.
“Nostalgic brands are becoming more popular as consumers look to connect with products that bring them back to simpler times,” he adds. “Jakemans Throat & Chest branding and packaging embodies this with its old fashioned look and feel.”
Made from natural ingredients, Jakemans Throat & Chest lozenges offer soothing relief from throat and chest discomfort and are designed to deliver a pleasant flavor without being overpowering or having a “medicinal” taste and odor. While the brand is deeply rooted thanks to its rich history, Jakemans continues to focus on the future. Last year, the Manchester, N.H.-based brand introduced its Chili & Lime flavor and they are currently launching a Peppermint variety.
Armed with the desire to empower people through natural healing and a mission to develop water-based homeopathic medicines, Dr. Frank King founded King Bio in 1989 in Asheville, N.C.
Several years ago, King felt compelled to create the Safecare brand to aid King Bio’s expansion into the mass market. “As the brand name reveals, we are committed to delivering products that are safe, natural and manufactured with care for every man, woman and child,” he says. “These days, if you walk into a drug store, you will find shelves full of products that may cause drowsiness or other negative reactions.”
As a homeopathic brand, Safecare products are naturally non-drowsy and have no negative side effects or dangerous drug interactions. In-store pharmacists and employees can safely recommend these products to customers without having to worry about existing conditions and possible drug interactions.
“Safecare takes health personally because we understand that everyone is unique. Symptoms can occur for a variety of reasons and differ for each individual,” says King. “For example, allergies can come from allergens specific to your location, including where you live or have lived throughout your life. We developed Regional Allergies to target these major allergens that have impacted your health, both past and present.”
AsthmaCare is a complementary formula that addresses associated respiratory symptoms, designed to help consumers breathe a little easier on their path to wellness.
Majestic Drug Co.
Since its incorporation in 1950, the Majestic Drug Co. has had a rich history. What began as a wholesaler and distributor of pharmaceutical necessities quickly evolved into a niche oral care company after Sam Fishman purchased it in 1960. Within five years Majestic was transformed into a manufacturer and distributor of its own health and beauty care products.
In 1979 Majestic launched Dentemp Custom, an OTC temporary dental repair to re-cement loose caps and replace lost fillings. In 1993, in an effort to concentrate on the burgeoning niche OTC drug products market, Majestic sold its hair care product lines. With its focus firmly set on this new market, Majestic expanded its oral care product line, introducing Dentemp O.S., dental repair for both loose caps and lost fillings and the Repair-It denture repair kit. Recapit, Refilit, Dentool Jr., Clean-It denture wipes and Sword Floss soon followed.
Since then, Majestic has continued to innovate in the niche oral care market with Proxi-Plus, a interdental brush with a bonus flosser on the other end, Reline-It denture reliner and Senzzzzz Away, a tooth desensitizer that eliminates sensitivity to cold, sweets and heat for up to six months with just one application.
With Larry Fishman as president since 1985, Majestic has continued in the family tradition when David Fishman was brought aboard as vice president in 2011. “Majestic prides itself on our family atmosphere and our devotion to employees and customers alike,” says David Fishman. “The majority of Majestic’s employees have been with the company for more than six years.” Today, the third generation family owned and operated company calls South Fallsburg, N.Y. home.
Since making the transition from generic pharmaceutical distributor to vitamin supplier and marketer, Mason Vitamins has earned itself a renowned position in the nutraceutical industry. When the Miami Lakes, Fla.-based company decided to create its own brand in the early 1990s it placed unique product development at the height of its focus.
“Our dedication to providing the highest quality vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements gives us a reputation as a trusted leader in the nutraceutical industry with advanced product formulation, superior manufacturing and the highest standards of quality,” says Gary Pigott, executive vice president, sales and marketing. “Why offer the national brand equivalent when we can do so much more?”
Mason’s Megavite Multivitamin 55+ is specifically designed for seniors and includes oat beta glucan fiber, a unique blend designed to support digestive health. The company also incorporates new and trending ingredients in its products, like its Coconut with Flaxseed Oil soft gel that provides consumers with the healthy fats found in coconut oil.
In addition to its commitment to ongoing innovation, Mason Vitamins partners with various organizations including the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Direct Relief International and Christian Aid Ministries to fulfill the company’s mission to make the world a healthier place over all. Mason’s environmental program, which has been in place for more than 30 years, reduces 300-plus tons of waste from reaching state landfills each year, adds Pigott.
Meda Consumer Healthcare
From sleep aids to cold and flu remedies and caffeine supplements, Meda Consumer Healthcare markets a range of specialty OTC brands—brands that have been recommended by doctors for more than 50 years, as well as cutting-edge products on the forefront of consumer healthcare trends.
“We breathe new life into legacy brands,” says Tony Sommer, head of sales of the Atlanta-based Meda Consumer Healthcare. Through a combination of proven marketing principles and cutting-edge marketing techniques, the team at Meda specializes in creating new lifecycles for a diverse portfolio of brands.
Meda Consumer Healthcare is the U.S. over-the-counter division of Stockholm-based Meda AB, a global specialty pharmaceutical company. As a key part of Meda’s business strategy, the consumer healthcare division extends Meda’s reach into the fast-growing OTC and dietary supplements markets.
“Our people—the experienced marketers with a shared passion for brands—are what set us apart from other healthcare companies. Our team has expertise in consumer-focused marketing and customer-driven sales,” adds Sommer. As diligent and committed brand stewards, Meda Consumer Healthcare’s people focus on priorities, collaborate quickly and continuously work to improve market performance in order to improve the lives of consumers and patients.
MZB Personal Care
MZB Personal Care’s products may seem like they are only for children’s enjoyment, but senior vice president Amy Alperin promises that parents will enjoy buying them just as much. “We work with our retail partners on customizing their 365 kids bath assortments to offer best in class, mom-approved brands at a value-price that keep their customers coming back again and again,” she says.
The Long Island City, N.Y.-based company creates licensed bath gift sets, which are especially popular during the holiday season thanks to the company’s floor-ready merchandising options and reasonably priced assortments. Everyday items include basics from the company’s line of 24-ounce tear-free bubble bath products in licenses from Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Sanrio and more. MZB’s best-selling Crayola bath activity line features bathtub crayons, markers and soap paints for kids, as well as bathtub color tints.
“We leverage our product design talents to create unique containers based on the most popular characters from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Disney Princess to SpiderMan that incorporate “toyetic” features that provide real play value, both in and out of the bath like our mini decanters and Turtles three-in-one body wash,” says Alperin. “And parents appreciate our tear-free bubble bath and three-in-one body wash formulas that are gentle enough to use everyday in scents that the whole family loves.”
Working in a highly competitive industry against large international companies is no easy task, particularly with little to no experience selling such products. However, months of research, discussions with gynecologists and increasing frustration with conventional brands armed Natracare founder and owner Susie Hewson with the passion and tools to make her voice heard, says Theresa White, Natracare’s senior executive officer.
Twenty-five years later, not only has Hewson put Natracare on a global platform as a top natural feminine hygiene brand, she has managed to raise awareness about health issues such as Toxic Shock Syndrome and women’s health around the world while doing so.
“Natracare is a realization of Susie’s personal ethics and so the environmental and ethical positioning of the products are absolutely central to the everyday life of the business,” says White. “We are proactive in many environmental and social improvement campaigns and believe our participation allows us to be responsible citizens that provide opportunities for conservation and social improvement projects to take place.”
The Greeley, Colo.-based company utilizes its philanthropic approach to put profits generated by the company back into the society around them. Natracare’s feminine hygiene products, which are made from certified organic and natural, plant-derived, renewable resources, are a direct reflection of this mission.
“The continued consumer demand of a “healthier lifestyle” from environmentally sound products and their concern of pesticide usage, chemical allergies and intolerance to synthetics are key consumer motivators in our category,” adds White. “We continuously review and improve our product line as we aim to be the most innovative brand on the market.”
The travel and trial category can be the cornerstone of any retailer’s health and beauty care offerings, but merchandising thousands of items in miniature is no easy task.
Denver-based Navajo has created its Dispensit Trial and Travel program featuring a gravity fed box to instantly provide retailers with a category solution and management in one.
“The value created by our program for the retailer is tremendous and not only covers the labor savings, but all our product offerings are based on IRI data which guarantees the shopper will find their favorite product for trial or travel. Great relationships with our suppliers ensure that we can constantly bring the newest and best products into the mix,” says Deborah Levy-Abreu, vice president of marketing.
As today’s consumers embrace progressively busier lifestyles they are seeking out convenient, on-the-go solutions with increasing frequency. “While we believe the shopper may be driven to trial an item that is new to them, we believe an even larger component of shoppers are needing the convenient size for a busy lifestyle that may include traveling and going to the gym,” adds Levy-Abreu.
In 2014, Navajo made an important shift when it transitioned all Dispensit units to those made from 100% recycled materials. The newly implemented units were manufactured using wind energy.
Penn Herb Co.
Philadelphia’s Penn Herb Co. was founded in 1924 by Dr. Konstanty Kalkosinski, a naturopathic physician who grew his own herbs and developed unique herbal formulations to satisfy the health needs of his patients. In 1962, the Betz family purchased the Penn Herb Co., and they have continued the tradition of providing herbs, natural remedies and formulas for their customers’ health needs today.
The company’s product line now includes more than 7,000 SKUs with many herbs available in tea, powder, capsule and extract form. The company credits Olbas Herbal Remedies as an important aspect of its sustained growth. “In 1972, Penn Herb became the exclusive U.S. importer of Olbas Herbal Remedies, giving a whole new nation of consumers the ‘Power to Breath…Naturally,”’ says William P. Betz, CEO.
Olbas is a unique line of eight natural remedies that provide fast relief. “The popular Olbas Inhaler is a customer favorite. The products can be used for inhalation or body massage,” adds Betz.
As the North American home to the Real Health Laboratories, Sambucol, Promensil, Skin Doctors and Kids Smart brands, Pharmacare US has a refined focus on finding unique value in the health and beauty care arena and a mission to pass that value on to its customers.
“We continually focus on developing new, innovative products that meet consumer needs,” says Kimberly Weld, vice president of the San Diego-based company. “We offer a point of difference, a reason to buy.”
All Pharmacare products are supported by a strong research program and are underpinned by extensive testing and trials. “We know that consumers will support a quality product,” Weld adds.
With hundreds of products spanning key categories like health and fitness, personal care and food services, Pharmacare has an ever-expanding reach in consumers’ lives, including how they eat and care for their bodies while shaping the quality of their lives.
“The goal of Pharmacare is to help promote the benefits of healthy living; build an active, supportive and well-informed community of customers, and educate them about important health and wellness issues. Innovation is at the very heart of our business, and our business is improving the lifelong health and well-being of our customers,” says Weld.
Pharmavite was founded in 1971 by two entrepreneurs with a mission to manufacture the highest quality vitamins on the market. Within a year the company’s NatureMade brand was being sold in drug stores.
“Today, Nature Made is the national vitamin brand with the most products carrying the USP Verified Mark—verification that the products meet stringent quality criteria set forth by USP,” says Tim Toll, executive vice president of sales for the Northridge, Calif.-based company. The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality and purity of medicines, food ingredients and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide.
In addition to manufacturing a wide range of letter vitamins, herbal supplements, diabetic-friendly multivitamins and natural cholesterol management products, Pharmavite shows a strong commitment to innovating within the industry. Over the past several years, the company has introduced several new delivery formats including adult gummies and quick dissolve tablets.
In January, Nature Made introduced three new products to its Adult Gummies line including Multi + Omega-3, Energy B12, and Immune Complex with Zinc. The Nature Made Adult Gummies line initially launched with seven offerings in the fall of 2012 and included Vitamin C, B Complex, Fish Oil, CoQ10, Calcium, Multi and Vitamin D3.
“At Nature Made, we believe it is important to help consumers meet their nutritional needs every day. As a leader in the vitamin and supplement industry, we take pride in offering high-quality products that effectively help fill nutrient shortfalls while also providing an enjoyable experience,” says Erin Gehan, vice president, marketing. “The expansion of our Adult Gummies line gives consumers more flavorsome options to supplement their individual health and wellness needs.”
With brands that have become household staples around the globe, Unilever continues to prove its worth and importance with consumers and retailers alike. “Unilever has, from its origins, been a purpose-driven company. Today, our purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace. This means helping to build a world where everyone lives well and within the natural limits of the planet,” says Alison Castillo, industry relations and sustainable living.
“In an uncertain and volatile world, we cannot achieve our vision to double our size unless we find new ways to operate that do not just take from society and the environment,” she adds. Launched in 2010, the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan is the company’s blueprint for sustainable growth.
Based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan spans the company’s portfolio of brands around the world with its social and economic dimensions. It has three overarching goals—by 2020 Unilever is committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being; halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of its products as the company grows its business; and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people throughout the process.
“In the three years since we launched our plan, we are already seeing the results of our efforts,” adds Castillo. “Our focus on sustainability is driving brand growth, competitive advantage and differentiation.”
Wahl Clipper Corp.
In the 95 years since its founding, Wahl Clipper Corp. continues to be a family owned and operated company. A third generation family member is currently at the helm and the fourth generation is quickly working their way up the ranks. With the focus set on the next 95 years, Wahl’s director of marketing, Steve Yde, accredits the company’s success to its relentless efforts to understand consumer needs and address those needs. “This goes beyond making a good product that cuts hair,” he says.
In recent years the personal trimmer and clipper category has seen an expansion of competitive products hitting the shelves thanks to their “new” and “innovative” marketing presentation. “Unfortunately for the retailer, these same products often fail to even match the sales of the products they replaced, let alone grow category sales. The problem is that one can be seduced by perceptions of ‘newness’ and ‘technology’ that fail to be meaningful to consumers,” says Yde.
The Sterling, Ill.-based company does extensive consumer research to develop products that consumers want. Without giving away the secret sauce, as Yde likes to say, Wahl is committed to developing a dialogue with consumers so when a new product is launched, it has the consumer’s voice embedded. “This is why in clippers and trimmers at our retail partners we outperform the competitive SKU we replace nearly 100% of the time,” he adds. “We have a tremendous respect for the consumer and they return the favor by trusting the Wahl brand.”
Wellnx Life Sciences
As a developer and marketer of nutritional weight loss supplements, Wellnx Life Sciences develops its products based on two guiding principles: innovation and science. The Mississauga, Ont., Canada-based company actively seeks out new and innovative clinically substantiated ingredients, directly and with its research partners, to develop and produce effective weight loss solutions.
“The global trend towards pure, natural and authentic ingredients has been driving growth in the category,” says Tara McCrory, brand manager. “Offering high-quality, authentic ingredients at a great value continues to drive sales for our team. Growing concern over ‘unhealthy nutrition’ or, conversely, awareness of ‘healthy’ nutrition are also key factors affecting sales in the category.”
Wellnx’s mother brand SLIMQUICK Pure is specifically designed for women to help address the six physical reasons it is more difficult for women to lose weight. The values that drive Wellnx, like giving its employees and consumers the opportunity to lead healthier lives that includes supporting work life balance, healthy lifestyles in the office and giving back to the community, are mirrored in its products.
In the late 1990s, Dr. Alonzo H. Jones, D.O., a family physician in West Texas, was trying to find a solution for the people coming to see him for upper respiratory issues. He studied the research pointing to the benefits of xylitol for improving oral health and its effects on bacteria. The answer was Xlear.
As Dr. Jones discovered, clinical studies showed that oral xylitol administered in syrup and chewing gum reduces tooth decay and the incidence of ear infections by 80% and 42%, respectively. Studies also indicate that bacteria found in the nose and mouth ingest xylitol but cannot metabolize it, which prevent the production of harmful byproducts.
Since 2000, American Fork, Utah-based Xlear has been responsible for bringing xylitol-based products to the masses through its innovative oral care solutions.
Recognizing the dental benefits of xylitol, Xlear introduced the Spry line of gum and mints, sweetened exclusively with xylitol, and later expanded its reach with the Spry Dental Defense System of toothpastes and oral rinses.
“Our focus at Xlear has always been: share great tasting, all natural, affordable and health-enhancing xylitol products with the world. We also strive to educate medical and dental professionals, as well as their patients, about the health benefits of the xylitol,” says Nathan Jones, president. “This requires a leadership team that trusts its people and celebrates diversity; and is disciplined enough to ensure that our performance goals are met while our culture, transparency and open-mindedness remain intact.”