with a purpose
survive and thrive in 2006, florists will have to change directions and
point toward creating experiences, value and strong customer
by CHRIS GIGELY
of a slumping personal care category seem to be greatly exaggerated.
Statistics show sales declines in 2005, yet industry experts insist the
category is still hot. “Many [specialty gift] retailers have either
added or expanded in this category,” says John Saxtan, editor-in-chief
of Giftware News, a trade publication covering the specialty gift
However, in its report, “The U.S. Market for Bath and Shower Products,”
research firm Packaged Facts revealed that the overall personal care
market has declined 12 percent from 2000 to 2004. The report also shows
that consumer demand for bar soaps, body wash, bath additives and other
items will keep falling from a high of $2.6 billion in 2000 to $2.18
billion in 2010.
The good news is that those numbers largely reflect sales of plain old
personal care products sold in supermarkets, drugstore chains and other
mass channels. The more creative and innovative items sold by gift
retailers, florists and other specialty retailers are expected to stay
“There have been a lot of tiny companies jumping into bath and body,”
says Meredith Schwartz, an editor who covers personal care for Gifts &
Decorative Accessories, another industry publication in the specialty
gift industry. “There’s a lot of turnover among manufacturers, but
there’s still a lot of the product at trade shows. And many retailers
are carrying it, and it’s selling.”
The flood of manufacturers means faster product innovation, and
“organic” is the buzzword of the moment. TerraNova’s new “Organic
Oasis™” line, for instance, features soaps, lotions, creams and scrubs,
with at least 70 percent of its ingredients grown by earth-friendly
methods. The company presold it last summer, debuted it at the New York
International Gift Fair in August and has had trouble keeping up with
demand ever since.
“Typically, our production runs are in batches of 2,000 to 2,500,” says
Mitchell Merrick, national sales manager at TerraNova. “We sold out of
the first batch in about a month.”
Organic Oasis packaging and merchandising pumps up natural, organic
ingredients such as tiare flower (Tahitian Gardenia), white tea, green
coffee and yerba maté. The use of consumables such as coffee and tea is
no coincidence. The emergence of organics in personal care follows the
growing demand for organic foods.
“Two years ago, [TerraNova owner Cathy Saunders] saw that organic foods
were gaining momentum and seemed to be the only growth category in
grocery,” says Mr. Merrick. “She translated that to bath and body.”
But while organic foods have made their way into the mainstream, organic
personal care products still haven’t come across the radar of the chain
stores and mass merchants. The product is ripe for specialty
“[Organic] is still a small percentage of the market, but it’s growing
fast,” says Ms. Schwartz. “It started out with small, idealistic
companies, but now the larger companies are getting in because they
don’t want to lose sales.”
Trend Two: Cosmeceuticals
The organic trend is tied loosely to an overall wellness movement in
personal care that has given birth to another trend Ms. Schwartz calls “cosmeceuticals.”
“These products claim to calm you down or wake you up or get rid of
varicose veins,” she explains. “They solve problems. Product that was
the realm of the drugstore market is now getting high-end packaging for
the gift market.”
Personal care giant Crabtree & Evelyn, for instance, has released a new
collection called “Remedy.” As the name implies, the line cures
everything from wrinkles and dark eye circles to chapped lips.
“Aging baby boomers are trying to hold back the wrinkles, and younger
people are taking better care of their skin,” says Mr. Saxtan,
explaining the cosmeceuticals trend.
Overwhelmingly, however, sales are coming from the boomers, and Mr.
Saxtan has them pegged. Boomers are motivated to look and feel healthy
but not necessarily to turn back the clock. They’re buying cosmetics,
soaps and cosmeceuticals to feel better about who they are.
Cost does not seem to be an issue for consumers looking to care for
themselves with products like these, says Ann Culligan, marketing
manager at Lactoprot USA. “Everyone’s lives are so busy and hectic,” she
says. “People try to pamper themselves whenever they can, and price
points really aren’t much of a factor. Scents play into it, though.
That’s why we’ve gotten into green tea, white tea and ginger, and other
scents that strongly relate to relaxation.”
Whether enhancing beauty or saving the environment, the hottest personal
care items have some added value. And these products promise to keep
specialty retailers’ sales and the category as a whole buoyant
Chris Gigley is an author,
speaker, and freelance writer who has covered the gift and stationery
market for nine years. He resides in Greensboro, N.C.
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