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MAY 2023 Volume 45, Number 5
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Multicultural beauty is booming, so mass market retailers are modifying shelves to appeal to shoppers of all ethnicities

Page 20


Traditional drug store retailers seek to become one-stop healthcare destinations amid competition from online players and others

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Traditional drug store retailers seek to become one-stop healthcare destinations amid competition from online players and others

20 INSIDE BEAUTY Mass Marketers Broaden Multicultural Assortments

Leading chains are modifying offerings to appeal to shoppers of all ethnicities

24 PHARMACY: SUPERMARKETS Not Your Grandmother’s Supermarket Pharmacy

Brands are taking their health care offerings to new heights


Minding the Most Critical of the Senses

Today’s consumers have many choices when it comes to over-the-counter eye and ear care products


The Newest Normal

Following a COVID-driven sales spike, immune supplement performance is returning to pre-pandemic levels


Hitting the Sweet Spot

Candy sales are strong as consumers continue to seek novelty and nostalgia

6 May 2023 DRUGSTORENEWS.COM DSN (ISSN 0191-7587) is published monthly 12 times a year by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to DSN, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Vol. 45 No 5, May 2023. Copyright © 2023 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. DEPARTMENTS 8 EDITOR’S NOTE 10 INDUSTRY NEWS 12 PRODUCTS TO WATCH COLUMNS Facebook.com/DrugStoreNews Twitter.com/DrugStoreNews FEATURES 42 LAST WORD By David Orgel Retail Marketing That Drives Course Correction 14
Vol. 45 No. 5

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What’s Next?

The threats to retail pharmacy are constant…and more issues to tackle are on the way

As I am writing this column, I’m sitting in the Courtyard Cafe of the Breakers at NACDS Annual 2023. The mood is particularly upbeat and filled with optimism, not just because we’re at an unbelievable location on the Atlantic Ocean. Recent state momentum on DIR fees and PBM reform is another reason.

Suddenly, retail pharmacy sees a path forward on a major policy point that has a huge impact on the business model, and just the possibility of reform is exhilarating.

But other issues loom. Retail pharmacies are still under threat from growth in online pharmacies; mail-order pharmacies; online and specialty retailers; dollar stores and their expansion into health care; and the shortage of pharmacists, which is forcing some drugstores to reduce their operating hours. Our cover story this month (page 14) explores these issues, and discusses some ideas that are ripe for exploration.

Talking to retailers at Annual revealed another set of challenges that are right around the corner, however: What happens if pharmacists are able to achieve more prescribing authority? What if more states and the federal government grant pharmacists expanded scope of practice that aligns with their education and training?

Turns out, another set of challenges surface if this were to happen. The average pharmacy will have to add space for clinical services and waiting rooms; expensive store remodels will be required; pharmacists will have to do extensive data collection and reporting; and staffing, which is already a challenge, suddenly becomes a monumental obstacle.

Retailers must now start to think about how the business will be transformed—Pharmacy 3.0, if you will. Amid all of the new concerns, retail pharmacy must also keep in mind who will be the customer of tomorrow—millennials who are more comfortable with online services; women in their 20s through 40s who spend nearly $1,200 a year on beauty products; multiethnic shoppers who want to see themselves represented on the shelves; and nonbinary shoppers who will have different wants and needs.

Yes, the issues are many, but retailers have no choice but to tackle them head-on and come up with ideas to solve them. The future depends on it. dsn

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Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Litterick

Chief Financial Officer Jane Volland

Chief People Officer Ann Jadown

Chief Strategy Officer Joe Territo Executive Vice President, Operations Derek Estey


John Beckner, NCPA

Becky Dant, Costco

J. Jeremy Faulks, Thrifty White Pharmacy

Doug M. Long, IQVIA

Nancy Lyons, Health Mart Pharmacy

Katie Scanlon, Publix Super Markets

Heidi Snyder, Drug World Pharmacies

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Rite Aid opens small-format store in Scottsville, Va. Albertsons Sincerely Health intros Apple watch integration

Rite Aid has opened a pharmacy in Scottsville, Va., the third rural store that is part of a pilot program to improve access for pharmacy services in “pharmacy deserts” and underserved communities.

Locations in Craigsville and Greenville, Va., opened late last year and one more location in Grottoes is expected to open soon.

Each small format store features a full-service pharmacy and a retail assortment of health and wellness products. The Scottsville Center occupies approximately 2,500 sq. ft., which is smaller than the average standard Rite Aid location.

“We are proud to increase access to vital pharmacy services for this community, making it more attainable for people to get the medications and products they need to achieve whole health,” said Bill Miller, Rite Aid’s acting head of retail operations. “Pharmacists play a critical role in the wellness of our communities by helping individuals understand their health conditions and staying up to date on their medications and vaccinations. Our local pharmacy team in Scottsville looks forward to becoming trusted care advisors and helping to improve health outcomes.”

Rite Aid launched the pilot program to improve access to pharmacy services in underserved communities. The effort has been met with positive reception from local residents and leaders, the company noted.

Albertsons is collaborating with Apple to bring activity data from Apple Watch and iPhone to the Sincerely Health digital health and wellness platform. Customers who wear Apple Watch Series 3 or later can now choose to share their activity data with their Sincerely Health account and earn up to 75 points daily for closing all three Activity rings: Move, Exercise and Stand. Customers who do not have an Apple Watch can connect their iPhone with iOS 16 through the Fitness app and earn up to 25 points each day for closing their Move ring.

“We are taking another step towards our commitment to inspire well-being by rewarding customers for their physical activity. Customers can now connect their Apple Watch or iPhone and receive rewards for closing their activity rings,” said Omer Gajial, chief digital officer and executive vice president of health at Albertsons. “By integrating Apple Watch with the Sincerely Health platform, we are making it easy for customers to get value and also receive incentives for achieving their fitness goals.”

Additionally, all Sincerely Health users can improve their overall health score and earn points toward grocery coupons and discounts by setting up one or multiple goals related to physical activity, nutrition, lifestyle and sleep. Users can manage their personal data by choosing what information to share.

Sincerely Health is designed to measure a customer’s Health Score based on seven dimensions of well-being: activity, mindfulness, sleep, mental well-being, physical health, nutrition and healthy habits. Therefore, customers can access healthrelated resources and receive personalized guidance and recommendations for selecting the right foods and establishing mental and general well-being goals. Sincerely Health also offers an online pharmacy experience where customers can manage pharmacy prescriptions and schedule vaccine appointments.

Sincerely Health is a free digital health and wellness tool available on 16 Albertsons grocery banners and websites, including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Shaw’s, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Tom Thumb and more.


When it comes to PTSD service dogs for veterans, the mission is far from over for Dog Chow

S uppor ting U. S . troops has alw ay s been part of Purina Dog Chow’s his tory since it s fo unding nearly a century a go. B u t in 2018, when Dog Chow saw a cri ti c al, lifechanging need that was not being f ully address ed for veter ans, it s newes t mission bec ame clear.

Approximately 3. 5 million milit ary veter ans su ffer from Pos t-Tr aumati c Stress Dis order (PTSD), and it c an have dev as t ating effect s on their f amilies, wor k , and interper s onal lives. Thank f ully, s ervice dog s c an redu ce the s everity of PTSD s ymptoms and suicidal behavior s for thes e veter ans. Yet, even with evidence-b as ed result s, du e to the cos t and time it t akes to tr ain a s ervice dog, only 1% of thos e in need who s eek a s ervice dog receive one ea ch year.

Dog Chow s et o u t on a mission to help change that, and Service Dog S alu te was born.

Since 2018, Dog Chow has donated more than $1 million to s ervice dog org aniz ati ons, suppor ting the c are and tr aining of more s ervice dog s for veter ans with PTSD and other pos t-comb at challenges. B u t the mission has only jus t begun.

It is import ant to note that thes e s ervice dog s are not the same as emo ti onal support, ther apy or companion dog s. Rather, they are especially tr ained for veter ans, helping their handler perform t asks they c annot otherwis e perform on their own. Thes e specialized sk ill s are, in p art, what make the s e dog s remar kable,

b u t al s o r are It t akes abo u t two year s and approximately $25,000 to f ully tr ain a s ervice dog and ensure the perfect pla cement for ea ch dog and veter an

The inve s tment i s l a rge, b u t the imp a ct i s pricele ss. Some of the demon s tr a ted benefit s of PTSD s ervice dog s for veter a n s incl u de red u ced a nxiety a nd s tre ss , improved s leep, improved confidence to ret u rn to wor k or s chool – or even to be in p u blic, a re s tored s en s e of p u rpo s e, a nd more.

Many of thes e changes aren’t s een with the naked eye, which is why, las t year, Dog Chow launched it s fir s t-ever Visible Imp a ct Aw ard, in p artner ship with the A ss ociati on of Service Dog Provider s for Milit ary Veter ans (ASDPMV).

The aw ard celebr ated the remar kable imp a ct s ervice dog s

have on the daily lives of veter ans experiencing PTSD and recognize thes e o u t s t anding s ervice dog s and the org aniz ati ons that tr ained them.

Want to join Purina Dog Chow and Purina ass ociates in bringing more aw areness and support to veter an s ervice dog s? A s a ret ailer, yo u c an play a cri ti c al role in adv ancing aw areness for o ur mission, which is now highlighted on every b a g of Dog Chow

Complete that arrives to ret ail s tores. Yo u c an al s o cont a ct yo ur Purina sales rep to learn more abo u t special Service Dog S alu te in- s tore signa ge, s ocial and digit al ass et s, addi ti on al merchandis e and more to drive attenti on for the progr am.

O ur mission isn’t over. Will yo u join us?

Purina tr ademar ks are owned by Société des Produit s Nes tlé S A

New & Noteworthy

HRG’s five notable products from April 2023

Product introductions fell again in April after a particularly strong rebound in March.

For the month of April, suppliers introduced 178 new products, which is 104 less than the 282 new products they released in March. Waukesha, Wis.-based HRG reviewed 30 products in the health category, 95 in the wellness sector and 53 items in the beauty aisle to see which ones stood out as Products to Watch. Here is what they found:

1. Advil Dual Action Back Pain Caplet

Haleon said its Advil Dual Action Back Pain Caplet is formulated to fight back pain in two ways: by combining acetaminophen to block pain signals with Advil ibuprofen to target inflammation. According to Haleon, the FDA-approved formula quickly relieves tough back pain and lasts up to 8 hours. It comes in an 18-ct. pack

2. Florajen Triple Action Probiotic 3-In-1 Capsule

Florajen Triple Action Probiotic 3-In-1 by Bridges Consumer Healthcare combines a prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic into one capsule to help naturally promote gut health and boost immunity. Bridges Consumer Healthcare claims the probiotic is fast acting and begins working in hours. The company also states that it is a shelf-stable probiotic that maintains freshness and potency without refrigeration or unique bottle and carton structures. It comes in a 30-ct box.

3. Dr. Scholl’s Tired, Achy Feet Foot Mask

Scholl’s Wellness said Dr. Scholl’s Tired, Achy Feet Foot Mask is a pair of disposable foil booties designed to soothe, warm, relax and revive tired and achy feet in as little as 30 minutes. The company added that the no-mess application is formulated with 100% natural ingredients, including pure Epsom salt, shea butter, peppermint, eucalyptus and essential oils. The package comes in one pair.

4. Just For Men 1-Day Beard & Brow Color Dark Brown

Just For Men 1-Day Beard & Brow Color by Combe Incorporated allows users to brush color in to blend away grays and give beards and brows a thicker and more welldefined appearance without the commitment of permanent hair color, the brand said. The company claims the hair color brush can also be used to fill patchy beards and is designed for up to 30 applications.

5. Bactine Max Lidocaine Dry Spray

Wellspring Pharmaceutical Corporation developed Bactine Max Lidocaine Dry Spray to numb pain and itch from poison ivy, bug bites, burns, sunburns and tattoo aftercare. The dry spray formulation offers no mess and is meant to dry instantly, the brand said. It includes 4% lidocaine HDL and an herbal blend of chamomile, calendula and arnica to provide the most relief. It comes in a 4-oz. spray bottle. dsn



Women are making their mark in the healthcare world. DSN honors the women who have been nominated by their peers and selected by our panel of judges based on their contributions and attributes that go above and beyond the call of duty.

us for
fifth annual Top Women Awards as
celebrate the exceptional women who are shaping and changing this industry.
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Traditional drug store retailers seek to become one-stop healthcare destinations amid competition from online players and others

Drug store retailers are under increasing pressure from multiple competitive threats, including a growing raft of online pharmacies, as well the ongoing threats posed by mailorder pharmacy and business challenges such as reimbursement and the tight labor market. In addition, front-of-store categories are also under pressure from online and specialty retailers, as well as from the proliferation of dollar stores and the expansion of the dollar stores’ assortments into more HBC products.

However, drug stores are reinventing themselves to compete in this environment by adding more clinical services and transforming into one-stop healthcare destinations with a range of offerings. In this way, they are approaching convenience from the perspective that providing a more holistic health care experience can simplify the process for patients and at the same time improve health care overall.

“I think there’s a number of challenges which are coming to a head,” said Rodey Wing, a partner in the health and retail practices of global strategy and management consulting firm


Kearney. “One, you have ongoing reimbursement pressure. The reimbursement level for drugs continues to decrease, so profit margin on the core part of the business is under pressure.”

Operating a retail pharmacy is a “scale” business, Wing said, which means sales volume needs to remain at a level that supports the fixed costs of the store and the labor costs associated with employing a staff of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

“As you have a bunch of new niche solutions or home delivery solutions coming on, it chips away at that volume,” said Wing.

These cost pressures come at the same time that retail pharmacies are seeking to cope with a tight labor market that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Pharmacists have been under increasing pressure for the last few years, which has led to an increase in retirements and a slower uptick in new hires, which in turn has led some drugstores to reduce their operating hours.

“That starts a bit of a vicious cycle, because it starts to impact volume, and then that volume drives lower profitability and becomes a bit of a challenging spiral to get out of for retail pharmacy,” said Wing.

In the front of the store, traditional drug retailers have had difficulty competing on convenience, he said. The growth of online players, such as Amazon and others, have made it easy for consumers to fulfill immediate needs without a visit to their local pharmacy, eroding the convenience factor that many drugstores have long leveraged.

In addition, drug stores in business districts have lost some of the front-of-store traffic they previously enjoyed from workers who may now be working from home at least part of the time.

Drug store assortments have also become more homogenized across locations among many retail operators, said Wing, reducing their local relevance to the needs of individual communities. Many drug retailers also struggle to compete on price for front-of-store items, said Wing.

“When you have dollar stores popping up nearby, it’s become even harder to try to maintain that premium [price positioning], particularly given the size of premium that they’ve tried to maintain,” he said.

Jonah Ellin, chief product officer at 1010data, a retail analytics firm, said he believes online players in the pharmacy space pose a bigger threat than the traditional retail industry may be acknowledging.

“It’s a repeat of what happened with the independent pharmacies and drug stores getting taken on by the chains, but now the chains are being taken on by online,” he said. “And people are saying the same things—that customers won’t like giving up personalized service. They said it when customers went from independent drugstores to chain drug stores, and now the chains are saying it as customers go online.”

Drug store retailers need to take a closer look at what their customers need and want, and figure out ways to execute against that in the store to differentiate themselves, he said.

Although the online pharmacy players have largely offered a narrow assortment of medications—often emphasizing lowpriced generics—they could expand into providing more products and services over time, Ellin said.

That bundling of healthcare products and services is at the heart of drug stores’ efforts to transform themselves with the addition of clinics, in-store screenings and tie-ins with other healthcare providers. It presents opportunities for brick-and-mortar retailers that can execute this type of experience in their stores, leveraging the data they have about their customers to help determine their needs, said Ellin.

Some consumers will always be attracted to the retailer or platform that can offer products at the lowest price, he said. It remains to be seen how companies like Amazon and low-cost providers, such as Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs, will evolve and expand over time, and if they can succeed in attracting additional volume from traditional retailers.

When it comes to HBC and cosmetics, online retailers are capturing some share from traditional drug store retailers, but consumer interest in online sources for these items may vary, according to Ellin.


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Customers who buy the same products regularly may be inclined to look for more convenient or low-cost options, but many consumers prefer to see, touch or sample these products before buying them, which provides “a distinct advantage for the in-store experience,” Ellin said.

Perhaps the biggest threat to sales for front-of-store categories lies in the potential erosion of in-store pharmacy sales, which would result in fewer shopper trips to the store.

Pharmacists to the rescue

Despite the growth of niche online pharmacy providers, the retail pharmacy can be expected to remain the main source of fulfillment for prescription drugs for most consumers, said Amar Singh, senior director at business consulting and analytics firm Kantar.

For traditional drug stores, that includes efforts to refine their overall product assortments to focus on health and wellness.

“They’re focusing on appearance, mental health, physical health,

holistic healthcare, nutrition—and you see that across the new products that they’re adding to the stores,” said Singh, citing options such as plant-based alternatives and other products perceived as better-for-you.

The pharmacist will be at the heart of drug stores’ efforts to become more holistic healthcare destinations, he said. Patients have trusted relationships with their pharmacists, he said, and they can be the gateway to the full range of healthcare services that drug stores will increasingly provide.

“That’s why there are loyal customers who will stick with CVS and Walgreens, and they’re loyal to certain locations,” Singh said. “That’s what makes the difference—that you have a relationship with the pharmacist.”

“Drug stores understand that, and that’s why they’re expanding their healthcare services, with services like the MinuteClinic, where everything is attached back to the pharmacist,” he said. “The pharmacist is the most important resource that they have, and that’s something that pulls in all the shoppers and keeps them within the ecosystem.”

Drug stores will increasingly turn to automation to help ensure that pharmacists are available for patient interactions in the stores, Singh said. This has become even more critical amid the ongoing pharmacist labor shortage.

In addition, one of the keys for drug store operators to be successful in becoming a primary destination for health care will be digital connectivity and the ability to communicate with doctors and other healthcare providers, he said.

Ellin agreed that the potential to fulfill multiple health care needs in one visit is a key strength of the retail drug store.

Wing said he thinks drug stores need to be more aggressive in their efforts to become more holistic healthcare destinations, and leverage the full scope of practice that pharmacists have.

As drug store operators gain a better understanding of the individual needs of their customers, they will increasingly tailor their offering to meet those needs, said Wing.

“That could mean being really thoughtful about how to engage the cash customer or the discount-card customer differently, or how to think about delivery for the customer for whom that’s really important,” he said. “You are starting to see a lot more exploration in terms of how to best meet those needs through the local retail pharmacy, and I think that’s quite positive.”

Another key consideration is how the store design itself might evolve as drug stores expand their offerings to include more healthcare services.

“It dramatically changes how you need to structure the operations in the store,” said Wing. “It dramatically changes how you think about workflow and how you think about store layout. As healthcare services really start to pick up, there’s going to be more and more need to reevaluate some long-held beliefs in terms of how to run the operations in a retail pharmacy.” dsn

Amar Singh Senior Director Kantar

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Mass Marketers Broaden Multicultural Assortments

Leading chains are modifying offerings to appeal to shoppers of all ethnicities

There is an evolution in marketing to persons of color, and it is changing what mass merchant retailers stock and how they merchandise.

The category transitioned from the outdated label of ethnic to the more recent multicultural. Even more accurately, said Psyche Terry, founder of Urban Hydration and one of the industry’s trailblazers, people are moving toward using the term cross-cultural.

The face of America is literally changing and retailing needs to adapt. According to the U.S. Census, the multiracial population has changed considerably since 2010 when it measured at nine million people. In 2020, the percentage indicating they were of multi-races soared 276% to 33.8 million people. Notably, Black consumers overindex in purchasing beauty products and account for more than 11% of total beauty spending, according to McKinsey.

Dovetailing with that, products created by BIPOC founders appeal beyond ethnicity, especially textured hair products. Estimates vary, but most experts believe at least 60% of Americans label their tresses as curly, coily or wavy.

The creators pride themselves on working hard to solve issues that can benefit all consumers. For some brands, survival is based on broadening the reach; others prefer to be steadfast in serving a specific market. What is important is there is a pathway for both strategies.

Gen Z is a cohort willing to try new products and they don’t put themselves in a box, according to Creighton Kiper, merchandising vice president of beauty at Walmart. Consumers look for products to solve needs. “Gen Z actually identify themselves as multicultural more than they do not so that becomes an opportunity and a space for us to grow,” Kiper said at a recent chat hosted by CEW.

Chris Lopez, marketing director for OKAY Pure Naturals, explained that his company caters to communities first. “We hand-bottled and distributed this product personally to the specific communities and independent retailers who requested this item. That’s why, in a way, we never really think about what we do in terms of multicultural or ethnic. There’s something about those terms that don’t seem authentic to us, as a company. We’ve grown by trust within communities by fulfilling daily care and beauty needs with unique high-quality natural products at affordable prices.”

Lopez added, “There are so many reasons why the old paradigm of thinking about ‘multicultural’ needs to be shed—and in exchange, you get bigger, better business… by simply being better people.”

Terry said the beauty industry mirrors trends in grocery. As far as beauty, retailers have figured out that more than 50% of Americans consider themselves mixed race or multicultural, she said. “Urban Hydration found success early by being the first mass brand to clean beauty because we followed trends of grocery. You can walk into a well-known grocery store and have an entire cultural experience.”

Gen Z actually identify themselves as multicultural more than they do not so that becomes an opportunity and a space for us to grow.
Kiper, merchandising vice president of beauty, Walmart
L S www.OkayPur Naturals.com

To achieve that, Terry admitted it will take extra steps for buyers to consider more than “hair as a differentiator,” and space planners will need to find a way to communicate in the aisles.

The importance of building out portfolios with products for diverse consumers was underscored earlier this year with Procter & Gamble’s purchase of Mielle Organics. Founder Monique Rodriguez made it clear she was sold to build the brand. “This deal increases the availability of our products,” she said, adding there were no plans to change formulas. For P&G, the acquisition helps the megabrand expand its offering for people with textured hair.

Despite efforts by brands and retailers, there is still a lot of runway for growth. According to McKinsey, even though Black consumers are responsible for 11.1% of beauty spending, Black brands comprise only 2.5% of revenue. In addition, Black consumers are 2.2 times as likely to conclude that products from Black brands will work for them. However, only 4% to 7% of beauty brands carried by specialty beauty stores, drug stores, grocery stores and department stores are Black brands, per McKinsey.


The Doux

Founded by Maya Smith, a licensed cosmetologist, The Doux has the best-selling, Blackowned mousse brand at Target–Mousse Def. The one-product styler has quadrupled in sales over the past four years and sold more than half a million units. Mousse Def retails for $14.99 and is sold at Target, Sally Beauty and Walmart.com

Kiss Colors & Care Kiss launched a styling collection to transform the protective hair styling experience by providing a versatile collection of nourishing, scalp-friendly products infused with organic Jamaican black castor oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil and biotin B7. The collection includes edge control, new edge wax sticks, braid, loc and twist gels, foam mousse and braid sheen refresher spray.

The collection is available at KISScolors.com, Walmart, Amazon and select CVS stores and retails between $1.09 to $50 for a styling tool.

Industry leaders are working hard to change those metrics. Retailers are getting high marks for recent efforts they have made to gear up for consumers of all ethnicities, skin tones, hair types and genders.

Walmart’s Start program, Target Start Up and Ulta Beauty help incubate brands founded by BIPOC entrepreneurs. Walgreens revamped its hair care department in the past two years to have liquid products suited for textured hair as well as hair accessories. CVS added a host of Black-owned brands over the past year and nearly 200 items from existing Black-owned brands.

Retailers realize they need more than just shampoos and conditioners. That has boosted demand for items from Firstline, which offers brushes and combs, sleep caps and styling accessories. Mass marketers are also adding more brands curated by Latinx and Asian American Pacific Islanders.

The opportunities to expand brands created by BIPOC founders are rooted in the fact that many of these launches are clean and solve specific issues even beyond hair. dsn

Goody Tru

The Goody Tru x Reyna Noriega, Goody Tru x Hola Lou and Goody Tru x Let It Happen launched in February 2023 priced between $3.98 to $11.98 and are sold exclusively at 3,000-plus Walmart stores and Walmart.com.

Camille Rose Rosemary Oil

Camille Rose launched a vegan hair care collection made to stop breakage, strengthen strands and promote healthy hair growth for all textures. The collection ranges from $9.99 to $14.99.

Mane ‘N Tail Curls Day

Mane ‘N Tail is a brand that appeals to all consumers with textured hair. Curls Day is a new collection featuring 11 natural ingredients including biotin, rooibos and coconut oils. It sells for $11.99 to $43.99.

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Not Your Grandmother’s Supermarket Pharmacy

Brands are taking their health care offerings to new heights

When the pandemic hit, supermarket pharmacies responded with supersonic speed, offering COVID vaccines and testing, curbside pickup and home delivery, while simultaneously maintaining their myriad clinical responsibilities.

In the post COVID environment, supermarkets are continuing to innovate to care for their customers, who have a new mindset when it comes to staying healthy. With expanded pharmacy services and a vast array of nutritious foods under one roof, they have an exceptional opportunity to become health care destinations.

The Food Marketing Institute’s latest Report on Retailer Contributions to Health and Well-being in 2021 shows that grocery stores have indeed made substantial investments to become healthcare destinations. Eighty-four percent of respondents said their company has an established health and well-being strategy; 84% of retailers report their company offers health and well-being activities for employees and customers, an increase from 49% in 2019; and 54% of pharmacists, dietitians and other healthcare practitioners collaborate to enhance and develop new health and wellbeing programs for food retailers—up from 42% in 2019.

What’s more, consumers are increasingly interested in receiving health care from supermarket pharmacies, as evidenced by a recent Advantage Solutions’ Pulse Survey conducted among 1,000 respondents: 4 in 10 say they’re likely to visit a health clinic at a supermarket.

DSN asked several supermarket pharmacy executives to weigh in on the state of their business.

DSN: What patient-facing services are your supermarket pharmacies offering?

MARC WATKINS, chief medical officer at Kroger Health: Kroger Health and the Kroger Family of Pharmacies operate more than 2,200 pharmacies in 35 states. We offer healthcare services available to customers in their hometown grocery store. Our team of healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, nurse practitioners and registered dietitians, provide a suite of services and support both in-store and online. Customers can engage with services including meeting with a registered dietitian in-store, online telenutrition appointments, access to clinical trials, routine vaccine administration, COVID-19 services and other health screenings and tests. Our retail health clinics, known as The Little Clinics, provide affordable health care in select Kroger and affiliate stores. Our licensed

“We sit at the nexus of food and pharmacy, which positions Kroger Health to improve outcomes through simplified health, wellness and nutrition solutions.”
—Marc Watkins, chief medical officer at Kroger Health
Kroger Health’s healthcare teams provide a suite of services and support in-store and online.

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healthcare practitioners can perform a myriad of services for patients 12 months and older, including giving vaccines, providing annual preventive screenings, performing physicals for school or work, diagnosing and treating many common skin conditions and rashes, treating insect bites or stings, plus diagnosing minor illnesses, including infections.

LEIGH SHIRLEY, director of pharmacy operations at The Giant Co.: Giant operates in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and supports 193 grocery stores and 132 pharmacies. As a grocery retailer and pharmacy provider, Giant is positioned to help families live healthy lives. Our pharmacy and wellness teams continue to assist patients manage medical conditions, prevent disease and improve their well-being. Giant pharmacy offers vaccinations, medication adherence, medication therapy management, health screenings and more.

BRITTANY ORLANDO, clinical pharmacist for Stop & Shop: Stop & Shop operates over 200 pharmacies across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.

In addition to filling prescriptions and assisting customers with over-the-counter medication selection, Stop & Shop’s pharmacists offer in-store immunizations, specialized diabetes counseling and medication therapy management services seven days a week. Stop & Shop’s

pharmacists also work alongside a team of registered dietitians, the Stop & Shop Nutrition Partners, to host in-store health events and educational webinars as another resource for patients seeking guidance with managing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

SPOKESPERSON FOR ALBERTSONS: Albertsons has 1,722 in-store pharmacies across 34 states and the District of Columbia. Services vary by location, but we generally offer prescription fills, including for pets, vaccines and care services. Patient-facing services include the launch in February of Sincerely Health, a digital and wellness platform that is designed to help improve lives by educating, encouraging and rewarding customers on their health and wellness journey so they can make informed choices regarding food, physical activity, sleep and mindfulness.

KATIE SCANLON, senior director of pharmacy administration at Publix: Publix has 1,256 pharmacies across Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Our Publix Pharmacy offers immunizations (by online appointment or walk up); medication therapy management; medication synchronization; we accept healthy benefits via Solutran for customers in participating plans; dually accredited specialty pharmacy licensed in all

50 states with access to many limited distribution drugs; compounding; Higi stations [which are digitally-equipped health testing kiosks] in all pharmacies where customers can check metrics like blood pressure and weight; pet medications; pharmacist prescribing where permitted for products (i.e., naloxone, scopolamine patches and naproxen sodium); Medicare plan finder tool for patients aging into Medicare; bedside delivery to patients being discharged from our partner health systems; biometric screenings (Alabama pharmacies); drug disposal kiosks (select locations) and telehealth kiosks (select locations).

ANGIE NELSON, senior vice president, pharmacy at Hy-Vee: Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail pharmacies across our eight-state region which includes Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. We employ more than 1,000 registered pharmacists and 1,400 certified pharmacy technicians.

We also operate Amber Specialty Pharmacy, a national specialty pharmacy provider that operates 19 pharmacies across the United States with the ability to ship medications to all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico.

We know how important health is to our customers and their families and that’s why we strive to provide convenient and

Albertsons offers prescription fills, including for pets, vaccines and care services. Hy-Vee focuses on providing convenient and affordable pharmacy services.

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affordable pharmacy services. Patients can pick up a prescription but also speak with a pharmacist about immunization needs and how to determine which Medicare Part D plan is the best for them.

Hy-Vee pharmacies provide our patients with a variety of services. Our staff is certified to administer routine immunizations and are happy to provide a free immunization screening to patients upon request. We offer personalized medication counseling to enhance patient understanding of medications and the conditions they treat.

Our pharmacies provide services such as automatic refills to make our patients’ lives easier. We also offer family pharmacy accounts, which makes it easy to manage everyone’s prescriptions, select pickup times and even transfer prescriptions. We’ve also introduced a prescription prepay service to create a faster pickup experience for our customers.

DSN: How are you addressing social determinants of health?

WATKINS: The kinds of food people have access to often can have a direct impact on their health, but in our current society, food and health are still separated when it comes to medical care. We sit at the nexus of food and pharmacy, which positions Kroger Health to improve outcomes through simplified health, wellness and nutrition solutions. With 90% of the U.S. population living within five miles of a pharmacy, Kroger Health is providing these communities access to healthcare resources.

SHIRLEY: Giant’s pharmacy teams seek community partnerships to offer clinics and health screenings to underserved populations. Over the past two years, the company has partnered with state and federal governments to administer free COVID-19 vaccinations. It also extended its reach beyond its pharmacy walls to provide necessary services in a variety of locations, including schools, churches and even a local zoo to serve underserved populations. Lastly, Giant offers Guiding

Stars, a free, accessible tool for customers to make healthier grocery shopping decisions.

ORLANDO: Stop & Shop Pharmacy recognizes the important role that social determinants of health play in our patients’ lives and health outcomes. We are committed to offering in-store services seven days a week at all of our pharmacy locations as well as webinarbased education to further accommodate our customers’ needs. In making immunization recommendations and providing comprehensive medication reviews to patients, our pharmacists incorporate patient-specific strategies to overcome barriers and meet the needs of the individual patient.

SCANLON: We actively screen patients for immunization needs and serve as a resource for patients who may not have a medical home. We offer medication synchronization in order to help patients stay adherent

Giant’s pharmacy teams assist patients manage medical conditions, prevent disease and improve their well-being.

and streamline trips to the pharmacy. We work to drive down patient out-ofpocket expenses through a variety of ways, including a centralized prior authorization management team, a value priced formulary ($7.50 program), Relay Health e-voucher participation and we try to work with as many payers as possible to ensure adequate access for our customers.

SPOKESPERSON FOR ALBERTSONS: In support of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, Albertsons announced that it will contribute new goals and initiatives designed to help break the cycle of hunger and empower nutrition and health through technology and information. Nourishing Neighbors, a program of Albertsons Companies Foundation, seeks to ensure at-risk youth, adults, seniors and families have access to the food they need.

NELSON: Our Midwestern footprint of where our stores are located often puts our pharmacists as one of the few healthcare providers in rural communities. Our pharmacists and dietitians embrace their role and serve their communities to provide access to services such as immunizations, biometric screenings, nutritional counseling, over-the-counter medication recommendations and test-to-treat services to assist in improving the health of their communities. dsn

“We actively screen patients for immunization needs and serve as a resource for patients who may not have a medical home.”
— Katie Scanlon, senior director of pharmacy administration at Publix
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Minding the Most Critical of the Senses

Today’s consumers have many choices when it comes to over-the-counter eye and ear care products

It’s well understood that humans have five basic senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. But those senses are not equal in importance.

Greek philosopher Aristotle recognized that reality many years ago. In his classical hierarchy of the senses, sight ranks as the most critical, followed by hearing.

Issues associated with the eyes or ears, therefore, can wreak havoc on quality of life. Fortunately, today’s consumers have many choices when it comes to over-the-counter eye care and ear care products.

More Moisture, Please

When it comes to eye-related issues, dry eye symptoms and dry eye syndrome are on the rise. The market for dry eye-relief products, therefore, continues to expand. Within this market, self-care is a consumer driver, said Susan Hanson, chief operating officer of The Relief Products , Reno, Nev.

“Consumers have developed a renewed focus on their health and wellness goals,” she said.

Approximately a third of contact wearers experience contact lens dryness, according to a 2019 study from Princeton, N.J.-based Multi-sponsor Surveys Inc.

And thanks to growing concerns about the potential negative side effects and long-term effects of allopathic remedies, many consumers are searching for natural dry eye-relief alternatives, Hanson added. TRP introduced the homeopathic Natural Eyes eye drops line to help these consumers. In addition to dry eye symptoms, the line addresses red eye, pink eye, styes and allergy symptoms.

“We at TRP have always believed in homeopathy to nurture our bodies, using what nature provides to help your eyes stay healthy naturally,” she explained. “Unlike many traditional eye drops on the market today, Natural Eyes is made without the use of chemicals such as vasoconstrictors.”

Preservative-free formulations also are in demand for dry-eye treatment, said Sean Clark, general manager, U.S. Vision Care for Alcon, Fort Worth, Texas. Alcon created a portfolio of preservative-free dry eye-relief products:


Systane Complete PF, Systane Hydration PF and Systane Ultra PF. In April, the company expanded the line to include a twin-pack of Systane Hydration PF. As Clark explained, the bottles’ Pure Flow technology, which features a one-way valve to keep contaminated liquid or air from re-entering, eliminates the need for preservatives. “As always, innovation is a consistent driver of industry growth,” he noted.


PreserVision AREDS 2 Formula mini soft gels with OCUSorb

SRP: $34.99 per 120-count bottle

Bausch + Lomb Corp.

introduced PreserVision AREDS

Beyond Dry Eye Relief

Many of today’s consumers suffer from eye issues other than—or in addition to—dry eyes. For example, approximately a third of contact wearers experience contact lens dryness, according to a 2019 study from Princeton, N.J.-based Multi-sponsor Surveys Inc.

Bausch + Lomb Corp., Laval, Quebec, had these consumers in mind when it introduced its Biotrue Hydration Plus multipurpose solution. Formulated with “bio-inspired” ingredients, the solution keeps more moisture on contact lenses “so consumers can enjoy their lenses with all-day comfort,” said Joe Gordon, president, Global Consumer, Surgical and Vision Care.

Another eye care issue? Almost half of Americans—42%—have insufficient levels of vitamin D, a recent HealthMatch article states. Vitamin D is proven to support healthy cell function and is critical for protecting eye health, Gordon noted.

2 Formula mini soft gels with OCUSorb. The gels offer a composition of lutein and zeaxanthin, two important antioxidants that have been clinically shown to help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration progression. In addition, OCUSorb has been clinically shown to provide superior absorption of these nutrients into the body in comparison to the original PreserVision AREDS 2 mini soft gel formula. They contain the exact nutrient formula recommended by the National Eye Institute, the company said. Each daily dose (two soft gels) of PreserVision AREDS 2 vitamins provides 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, 400 IU/180 mg of vitamin E, 10 mg lutein, 2 mg zeaxanthin, 80 mg zinc and 2 mg copper (cupric oxide).

Sony OTC Hearing Aids

SRP: $999 for CRE-C10; $1,299 for CRE-E10

Sony Electronics, San Diego, launched OTC hearing aids for the U.S. market. Developed in partnership with WS Audiology, a specialist in hearing aid technology, the CRE-C10 and the CRE-E10 self-fitting OTC hearing aids utilize the Sony | Hearing Control App for setup and to intuitively adapt to each user’s speech and surroundings. The user-friendly app allows each device to communicate with the user’s smartphone, enabling personalized settings and control. The CRE-C10 has a sleek, discreet design and is virtually invisible when worn, the company said.

“If the drug store is offering OTC hearing aids in a self-service station, the entire experience needs to be well thought out and intuitive for customers to avoid confusion and frustration.”
— Christian Gormsen, CEO of Eargo


Close to 30 million adults in the United States could benefit from hearingaid use, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . However, hearing aids traditionally required a prescription—and came with a price tag too high for many consumers.

But on Aug. 16, 2022, the FDA issued a final rule establishing a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids. The action, which went into effect on Oct. 10, 2022, allows consumers with a perceived mildto-moderate hearing impairment to purchase hearing aids directly from stores or from online retailers without the need for a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist, the agency noted.

The rule is expected to lower the cost of hearing aids. It’s also designed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of OTC hearing aids while fostering innovation and competition in the hearingaid technology marketplace, FDA said. The OTC category established in the rule applies to certain airconduction hearing aids intended for people 18 years of age and older.

“Hearing loss is a critical public health issue that affects the ability of millions of Americans to effectively communicate in their daily social interactions,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf., M.D. “Establishing this new regulatory category will allow people with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss to have convenient access to an array of safe, effective and affordable hearing aids from their neighborhood store or online.”

“Additionally, daily stressors, including smart phones, sunlight and screens, can impact the eyes,” he pointed out. “And as people age, the natural filter—macula— in the eyes may weaken and leave the eyes more vulnerable to stress.”

To help here, Bausch + Lomb offers enhanced Ocuvite Adult 50+ eye vitamins with vitamin D. The vitamins’ key nutrients help protect eye health, particularly as consumers age, Gordon noted.

And the company has more innovation in the works, he said. This year will bring line extensions to the Biotrue brand, including Biotrue Hydration Boost contact lens rehydrating drops, and the company’s eye health vitamins lineup.

“The company will also launch Lumify Eye Illuminations, a new line of specialty products designed for the sensitive eye area,” Gordon added.

Ear Care Getting More Attention

Consumers’ desire for self-care is a driver within the OTC ear care segment as well. The trend toward self-care often escalates during periods of economic uncertainty, explained Will Righeimer, CEO of Los Angeles-based Hyland’s Naturals.

“So, what we are seeing from consumers right now is a very proactive attempt to manage their health to the best of their ability,” he said. “They are researching preventive vitamins and supplements to support ear care and addressing common issues like swimmer’s ear and itchy, dry ear using OTC solutions.”

Two other trends within the segment are safer products and the prevalence of videos of the inner ear on social media, said Edward Wagner, CEO of Portland, Ore.-based Blue Echo Care. On the product safety front, consumer education is pushing a trend toward safer devices—similar to what’s used by audiologists— for wax removal and more. As for the latter trend, video-enabled otoscopes are allowing recording of the inner ear.

“One of my favorite bits of data I like to share with retailers is how mindblowingly popular ear wax videos are online,” he said. “For example, there are currently 8.4 billion views on TikTok at #earwaxremoval and another 10.5 billion views at #earwax. … These products are utilizing new technology, integrating into the realm of social media and building on an established product like the otoscope. I’m very excited about their potential moving forward.”

The ear care category overall is also getting more attention, thanks to the introduction of OTC hearing aids (see the sidebar, “New Rule is Music to Many Consumers’ Ears”).

“With more people introduced to and interacting with the category, there’s a potential for an influx in sales and buyer interest,” said Elyse Dickerson, CEO of Eosera Inc., Fort Worth, Texas.

That’s already happened for the WaxRx ear washer, a product of Doctor Easy Medical Products, Orange Park, Fla. Although the product has been around for 25 years, the increased demand for self-care and the success of other professionalgrade offerings have propelled the product to “a leading consumer ear care

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product,” noted the company’s president, Marsha Garcia. Modeled after professional ear washers, it’s the first OTC ear wax removal product able to remove even impacted ear wax.

Innovation Aplenty

Heightened interest in the ear care category on the part of consumers means room for new, innovative OTC products. One such product is Hyland’s Naturals Dry Ear Relief Oil. According to Righeimer, the natural product combines oils such as aloe vera, jojoba seed and hemp seed to soothe dry ears.

“We are seeing an uptick in interest for dry ear treatment options,” he noted. “We believe this is a byproduct of the fact that so many more people are using earphones for work calls, and hearing aids are now available over the counter so more people are trying them.”

Safety has been a priority in new product development for Blue Echo Care. The company’s ear wax removal kit and electronic ear wax remover allow consumers to purchase the same devices used in doctor’s offices, for example, Wagner said. And the company recently introduced a Bluetooth-enabled otoscope for all Android and Apple devices.

“We’ve recently made all of these products [and others] available as private label as well, following the trend of retailers growing their own brands,” he added.

For its part, Eosera recently introduced Ear Pain MD, which contains the strongest concentration of lidocaine available over the counter—4%—to provide relief of ear pain, Dickerson said.

“It’s great for the warm months when swimmer’s ear season is prevalent and kids are in and out of the water,” she explained. “Ear Pain MD is not intended to treat infection [but] is a great product to use while systemic medication kicks in.”

This summer, the company also will be launching Ear Dryer MD. An electric, rechargeable ear dryer that features a warming function, the product will be a “must have” for swimmer’s ear season, Dickerson said, as warm, wet ears are breeding grounds for bacteria to grow.

New Options for Hearing Loss

Some of the newest ear care innovations are in the OTC hearing aid space.

“It has never been easier for customers to receive support for their hearing loss,” said Christian Gormsen, CEO of Eargo, San Jose, Calif.

Although Eargo continues to see the introduction of hearing aids resembling earbud-style headphones, it’s focusing on “practically invisible” options to meet the needs of consumers who want a “more discreet device,” Gormsen said. The company’s latest OTC innovation—the self-fitting Eargo 7, which features Sound Adjust+ technology to mimic how natural hearing adapts to changing environments—debuted in January 2023.

“It combines the high tech and high touch of high-end devices at a more affordable price point, without compromising quality

or user experience,” he said. “Eargo 7 is designed for discretion, measuring the size of a thumbnail … virtually invisible when in the ear and easily removed with a transparent pull tab.”

Charlotte Schrøder, senior manager of business development, Lifestyle Hearing for Jabra/GN Group in Copenhagen, Denmark, notes that her company continues to see more classic consumer electronics players entering the OTC hearing aid space.

“With this, new form factors and new features drawing on traditional consumer electronics experiences will emerge,” she said. “Tele-audiology and software-based services are being used to differentiate products. We also continue to see more focus on the use of AI to provide better user experiences.”

For its part, Jabra/GN Group recently introduced the Jabra Enhance Plus to the OTC hearing aid market.

“At $799 a pair, this is 80% cheaper than the average price paid today for a pair of traditional hearing aids purchased in a clinic, greatly expanding accessibility,” Schrøder said. “It’s important to note, however, that OTC is not a replacement of hearing aids as we know them today. Our Jabra Enhance Plus device provides a solution for those looking to begin their hearing health journey.”

Since OTC hearing aids hit the market, Eargo has noticed a positive trend, Gormsen noted: more conversations around general hearing wellness.

“Despite this, some customers are having a difficult time navigating what OTC hearing aids are and where they can purchase them, which is why we offer education and support every step along their journey,” he said.

Gormsen also encourages drug stores to consider the customer experience when it comes to planning and merchandising the OTC hearing aid assortment.

“Ease of access to affordable and high-quality hearing aids and comfort should be the top priority,” he said. “Simply placing a product … on the shelf is not enough. If the drug store is offering OTC hearing aids in a self-service station, the entire experience needs to be well thought out and intuitive for customers to avoid confusion and frustration.” dsn

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The Newest Normal

Following a COVID-driven sales spike, immune supplement performance is returning to pre-pandemic levels

What goes up must come down. So it goes in the immune supplements category. At the height of the pandemic, sales skyrocketed. Now, fewer health concerns, product saturation and inflation have slowed consumer spending.

Suppliers are not overly worried, recognizing that such growth was temporary and unsustainable. And there are bright spots, with some vendors citing health in their private label businesses, “alternative” formats and cold products containing immunity ingredients.

“During COVID, there was a huge sales increase and immunity played a big part, with the total category up about 20%,” said Chuck Tacl, SVP of sales and business development, Mason Vitamins. “Zinc took off like you wouldn’t believe, and vitamins C and D grew dramatically.” But things trending down, he continued.

Lou Machin, managing director, Lifelab Health, said the peak occurred about 19 months ago. “Every retailer was begging for more,” he added. “The market became glutted. Then, it kind of came back to earth and flattened out.”

Coughing again

Machin described last year as “epic” for colds and flu. Today, Lifelab is emphasizing Honeyworks, organic cough syrups and throat sprays made with honey plus anti-oxidant ingredients. Children’s and adult formulations are available. “They’re clean products with no added ingredients,” he added.

Mason’s private labels are also performing well, partly driven by inflation. “With eggs and milk so expensive, there’s fewer items in the market basket with people purchasing more private label,” said Tacl.

Healthy kids

Now that COVID-19 has subsided, education has generated interest in kids’ immune supplements. Products include labels marketed for children and general market formulations that are safe for kids.

“The pandemic raised awareness of maintaining health,” said Geolyn Gonzalez, VP of sales and marketing, Total Resources International. “People,

especially parents, now understand the importance of supplementing children.”

The cough/cold segment of children’s supplements did particularly well. Sales increased 4.9% to about $203 million, said SPINS.

According to Kimberly Vigliante, SVP of wholesale and marketing, Piping Rock, vitamins C and D, immunity herb products, sleep aids and products for “gut health” are also

popular for use by kids.

Hannah Braye, head of technical advice at U.K.-based ADM Protexin, said sleep issues can be symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression, which are rising among children.

Children’s digestive health supplements are growing, too, as more consumers recognize that strong immunity starts in the gut, said Braye.

Suitable for babies, toddlers and young children, ADM’s Bio-Kult Infantis contains seven strains of beneficial bacteria as well as D3, omega-3 fatty acids and Preplex prebiotics.

Beyond gummies

While some suppliers indicated ongoing strength in gummies, SPINS cited an 8.2% decline in overall children’s gummy sales for the 52 weeks ended March 26, 2023. And the market is diversifying.

Nordic’s clean label children’s DHA comes in gummy, chewable soft gels and liquid formulations. Children’s and babies’ DHA is also available in vegetarian versions.

ChildLife Essentials believes there are more opportunities for its bottled, liquid formats in food, drug and mass. It also offers soft chews.

“Our liquids are growing at the expense of gummies,” said David Levy, director of sales, who was hired two years ago to target these retailers. “People don’t want to give kids ‘candy.’ These sugar-free alternatives are easy to consume.” dsn

“The pandemic raised awareness of maintaining health. People, especially parents, now understand the importance of supplementing children.”
—Geolyn Gonzalez, VP of sales and marketing, Total Resources International

Hitting the Sweet Spot

Candy sales are strong as consumers continue to seek novelty and nostalgia

Whether for comfort, indulgence or novelty, consumers are loading up on candy. Inflation and other worries are not preventing people from satisfying their sweet tooth. Manufacturers are responding with new items while still appealing to shoppers’ desire for nostalgia.

According to the National Confectioners Association, in its 2023 State of Treating Report, confectionery category dollar sales grew 11.1% in 2022 compared to 2021. Citing sales figures from IRI, NCA noted that chocolate dollar sales increased 9.4% in the 52 weeks ending Feb. 26, while non-chocolate dollar sales increased 14.6%.

“It’s evident when consumers treat themselves, they want premium, and they are also reaching for the excitement of the non-chocolate segment,” said Lou DiMarco, executive vice president for Hilco, which makes Warheads Popping Candy, licensed candy and other treats.

DiMarco pointed to some innovative launches last year, such as mini candy cones with chocolatefilled centers, gummies with dextrose and new brands joining the popping candy segment. “It’s out of the box thinking,” he said. “These types of items are spurring new impulse sales in older categories.”

Non-chocolate leads the way

Manufacturers of non-chocolate items are enjoying

much growth. “Overall we’ve seen a very good 2021 and a fantastic 2022,” said Jeff Greenwald, marketing manager at CandyRific.

Candy is the perfect moderately priced treat, so inflation has little effect on sales. “If something went from $2.49 to $2.99, it wasn’t a blow to your wallet,” Greenwald said.

He added that much of the growth comes from the emerging consumer segment of “kidults,” or adults who purchase products designed for kids. For these consumers, and kids, CandyRific offers candy fans featuring licensed characters from Star Wars, Marvel and Nickelodeon.

“Overall we’ve seen a very good 2021 and a fantastic 2022.”
Jeff Greenwald, marketing manager, CandyRific

While nostalgia is appealing, so are new products. According to the NCA report, 61% of candy shoppers look for confectionery products they have never purchased.

“The candy category is in very good shape,” said Robert Swaigen, vice president of global marketing for Jelly Belly. “Innovation continues to be an important driver of category success.”

Swaigen added that among the trends driving innovation are global flavors of food and beverages, many of which translate well to confections.

Other consumer trends

Seasonal sales activity is a big driver in candy sales, especially post-pandemic, as people reunite socially. “Overall, consumers see candy as an integral and fun part of life, in particular to share with friends and family around holidays and traditions,” said Molly Jacobson, director of business development at Frankford Candy. “The growth in the category proves it.”

“Consumers are increasingly interested in snackable, Instagrammable experiences with favorite brands they can share with family and friends,” Jacobson said. “Consumers want products that allow them to share their own twists on how they’re interacting with the candy.”

In addition to visual appeal, consumers also want taste, texture and sound. Frankford Candy introduced Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Candy Bars recently, featuring a combination of crunchy

cereal and creamy candy.

Gummies are gaining popularity, and Mars Wrigley expanded its gummies portfolio. Gum, which saw sales decline during the pandemic, is also regaining popularity. “Gum has proven to be resilient,” said Mike Gilroy, vice president of trade development and sponsorship at Mars Wrigley. “As social situations normalized, we’ve seen gum rebound significantly.”

Retailers can drive sales by merchandising the right products that answer current consumer trends. “Categories and brands that cement themselves with growing new rituals and new shopping habits win,” Gilroy said.

For many people, staying home is among the new rituals. “They are doing more of what brings them joy—particularly spending time with family and enjoying home-centric activities like game or movie night,” said Mark Pestana, senior director, team lead drug customers for The Hershey Company. “They are embracing snacking as a part of self-care and affordable indulgence.”

Drug stores have an opportunity to drive sales in the candy category. “Shoppers are seeking value more than ever, but value comes in many shapes and sizes with definitions that range from price sensitivity to convenience driven,” Pestana said. “To reach as many shoppers as possible, drug stores must offer a variety of pack types, sizes, prices, piece counts, etc. to fulfill their shopper’s perception of value.” dsn

“Innovation continues to be an important driver of category success.”
— Robert Swaigen, vice president of global marketing, Jelly Belly

Course Correction

Knowing when it’s time to adjust course at retail

We tend to focus on the “new” in retail, such as new strategies, directions and investments. These are typically rolled out with a lot of fanfare.

Much less attention is given to course corrections or reversals. However, I’m pleased to see that more retailers are making course changes after realizing certain initiatives did not meet expectations.

Shifting a strategy is a bold but essential decision. It’s a key part of business and increasingly a prerequisite for success in 2023 and beyond.

Here are a few recent cases in which retailers have made course corrections and how these have been playing out.

Wegmans eliminates self-scanning app

Wegmans’ move to eliminate its popular Wegmans SCAN self-scanning app last September became high-profile news across business media. The attention reflected the surprise element. The tool became a popular pandemic-era strategy to support contactless payments and enable a convenient scan-while-shopping experience. However, there was a huge problem: the retailer was encountering losses. Many media outlets pointed to theft as the likely issue, although Wegmans did not specify a reason. Wegmans realized it could not move ahead with the initiative in its current form. However, it did the smart thing promising customers that “we’ve learned a lot and we will continue to introduce new digital solutions to streamline your shopping experience for the future.”

Hy-Vee suspends employee discount program

Hy-Vee is another retailer that recently encountered unexpected losses from a program. The large Midwest company suspended an employee discount program in February after citing “loopholes” and “fraudulent practices” by some employees who use the program. While it’s never a popular move to pull back on an employee benefit, the retailer realized it needed

time to retool. Fortunately, its messaging was on target in communicating its case and underscoring a commitment to supporting associates. The company said it planned to relaunch the benefit and emphasized a long list of other benefits.

Heinen’s ends Instacart relationship

Like many other retailers, Heinen’s has partnered with Instacart to drive e-commerce delivery. The Midwest retailer drew attention in February by ending the relationship and moving to take the activities in-house.

“We are introducing a new mobile app and upgraded shopping platform at shop.heinens. com,” Heinen’s explained to customers. “Your online order will be fulfilled by trained Heinen’s associates who will carefully pick and pack only the best quality groceries for you. You will enjoy FREE Curbside Pickup.”

Heinen’s move comes as retailers assess their e-commerce strategies for the post-pandemic era, and Instacart itself has been expanding its role as a technology solutions provider.

Amazon pauses store rollouts

Amazon turned heads earlier this year when its CEO confirmed the company is pausing the expansion of its Amazon Fresh banner. The decision, like anything else associated with Amazon, became big news. The company’s move, however, is not likely to represent a withdrawal but rather a time-out. It is working on finetuning the format and moving to the next level of growth. The company is emphasizing its history with successful experimentation as it explains the changes.

Retail course corrections will become more common in this era of quickly shifting customer needs and growing industry partnerships. Retailers need to know when to say “enough” to initiatives and head down new paths. This kind of approach, rather than representing failure, will help drive success. dsn

David Orgel is an award-winning business journalist, industry expert and speaker. He is the principal of David Orgel Consulting.
“Major retailers are making bold shifts to improve their chances of success in 2023 and beyond.”
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