I recently spoke with Mike Rapport, Whole Foods Market’s Rocky Mountain region Whole Body coordinator, about upcoming strategies for Whole Foods’ Whole Body department.
The retailer well known for cracking down on organic claims and creating its own stringent Premium Body Care standard has partnered with MyChelle to carry a facial imaging system called the VISIA that offers customers a free skin analyses and can ultimately prove the efficacy of natural brands.
“If we do this right, we have a customer for life,” he said. Rapport and I also discussed how snagging that highly coveted natural personal care shopper goes beyond advanced technology—it’s about strategy and overall education.
Whether you’re Whole Foods or small independent grocer, this category has tons of potential for natural retailers—natural and organic personal care is set to outpace conventional in a few years and more and more natural products are hitting the market; yet nearly 50 percent of your core customers still aren’t purchasing personal care from you, according to market research firm SPINS. So how can you increase natural beauty sales?
1. Create a cosmetic-counter feel in grocery aisles.
Many natural beauty companies are straddling the line between markets: natural products retailer and spa/boutique/department store. Don’t be afraid to stock higher-priced natural beauty products. Do set them up for success with proper branding and positioning.
During my conversations with various natural beauty companies about their customers and ideal retail environments, I’ve noticed a recurring theme: Talking about skin and purchasing beauty products is an “intimate” experience for many women. Clean, simple, spa-like treatments in the department can help make women feel comfortable. Testers with applicators, strategically placed mirrors, and proper lighting take customers from shopping-for-dinner time to shopping-for-me time.
2. Partner with an esthetician.
A major barrier to your HABA department’s success: skepticism about natural skin care’s efficacy. Rapport and his team have an independent contract esthetician manning the VISIA to help customers understand their skin types and the best product choices.
Without this technology, it’s even more important to staff your department with this type of expert to talk women through their skin care needs and which products and ingredients will show the best results. This gives customers confidence to make beauty purchases at your store. Try making estheticians available by appointment as well, so that your customers see you as a go-to for personal care, not an afterthought.
3. Be the expert on ingredients and certifications.
You got it? Flaunt it. Retailers, you have a huge opportunity to bring clarity to the sometimes-confusing category and create the foundation for long-term loyalty. One of your key assets is that your personal care products support your customers’ conscious purchasing habits—and most department stores and spas still can’t compete with that.
As more consumers dabble in natural and organic personal care, help them understand the benefits of certain ingredients and certifications. Incorporate a chart of labels (a few to include: NSF/ANSI 305, USDA Organic, NPA Natural, Eco Cert, Cosmos) and lists of key ingredients prohibited in your store. Follow the lead of Whole Foods and Vitamin Cottage, enforcing your own ingredient policies. And include “staff picks.” Customers will love to hear what you’re into now—and why.
4. Stock shelves wisely.
There are a lot of awesome beauty companies out there. But don’t carry them all! Narrow in on a few key brands that cater to specific demographics and needs. A few examples: Consider slightly higher-priced “clinical” skin care (MyChelle and Derma e); everyday beauty (Weleda, Alba, Aubrey); and whole-family sundries (Dr. Bronner’s, Hugo).
These will vary by store. Know your customer, define key needs and price points and then narrow in on several ideal brands in each category, allowing your staff to be knowledgeable about every product and ingredient on your store shelves. Of course, bring in new companies—just make sure your staff understands the brand’s ingredients and mission before stocking them.