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Natural Foods Merchandiser
new retail competitors require natural products retailers to up their in-store experience like never before Getty Images

A fresh look: New retailers require a review of personal care

It’s time for natural retailers to step up their game in the skin care and beauty categories or risk losing out completely.

The stars seem aligned for increasing natural and organic personal care success. Consider the changing conversation. Influencers aplenty share their natural beauty tips on Instagram and YouTube. Environmental warriors battle the microbead disaster. And the star-powered Goop universe grows with a halo that extends well beyond Gwyneth Paltrow herself.

Natural products retailers, however, have lost the category glow.

Once a sales bright spot, with growth rates outpacing food and supplements, personal care increases have fallen to nearly 2%, below other store sections, according to Natural Foods Merchandiser’s annual Market Overview survey. 

Retailer conversations about the area reflected the challenges in the past several years. Only one thing stood out as exciting to our survey respondents: essential oils. One product does not a successful section make.

Last year, change emerged. Retailers decided to try to reinvigorate the section with 28% embarking on resets. Such changes alone, though, might not be enough in this challenging space.

Today’s customer finds a boutique experience that boosts her earth-loving cred at small, specialty retailers. Even behemoths such as Sephora capture the #cleanbeauty buyer. None may be as clean as PCC Community Markets, but they have that magic (and overplayed) word of the day: experience.

These new retail competitors require natural products retailers to up their in-store experience like never before. Even big-box stores like Target are attempting to make over personal care areas to feel unique among generic aisles of everyday consumables.

It’s worth considering how you can take a similar approach. Super sampling, stellar customer assistance and boutique-style displays can make a section stand out even in a smaller footprint.

We in the natural channel started seeing some of this as stores grew their DIY sets around the aromatherapy craze.

Imagine if that excitement could fill your aisles today as brands offer new botanicals, creative packaging solutions the whole world needs and, yes, even more charcoal. Tapping the continued self-care trend seems natural, too.

Finding success in natural personal care requires giving the category the star treatment and, maybe, a makeover or two.

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