Natural Foods Merchandiser

Eight tips to perk up personal care

Have you ever exhaled a sigh of relaxation and enjoyment as you stepped into a store? Found yourself stopped in your tracks in front of an attractive display? Walked out with a product that you had never thought you needed before? Does your store inspire that?

Need more PC know-how? Visit NFM's Personal Care Guide.

Natural and organic personal care may be one retail category that weathers this economic recession better than most, but with shoppers’ budgets tightening, will they be going to your store for their personal care needs? These tips—gathered from merchandising pros—will help you polish your PC department into an irresistible jewel.

Get personal.
Don’t just give samples to shoppers; make sure employees get to know your products intimately too. “The No. 1 way for us to sell a product from the personal care section is to recommend something we have personally tried and actually like,” says Devrin Forte, store manager at Topeka Natural Food Co-op in Topeka, Kan.

Boost shelf appeal.
Resist the urge to keep all the products in one company’s line on a single shelf. “Sometimes when facial [care] lines grow very extensive, they can take up a lot of linear space that can trail down a long shelf if not vertically blocked,” says Christina Smith, body care category manager at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, based in Lakewood, Colo. Lining up the similarly-colored products vertically provides visual harmony, she says.

Hone your holiday displays.
Keep displays or endcaps seasonal, says Jennifer Carriere-Spock, natural living merchandiser with Sunflower Farmers Market in Phoenix. Shoppers get used to displays that look the same every time they come in the store, so make the most of holidays to grab gift-givers’ attention. Coming up: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Be generous.
“Never hesitate to offer a sample for a potential customer to take home and try,” Forte says. Using miniature containers to dole out dollops of moisturizer or facial mask not only shows you care enough to make sure shoppers get the right product, it can give shoppers the confidence they need to lay down the cash for pricier products.

Tell a story.
Instead of relying solely on endcaps to channel merchandising creativity, use the top shelf of displays to convey a message. For example, take the theme of relaxation, Carriere-Spock says. Put items on the top shelf—saleable or non-saleable—that contribute to the feeling of the display, such as a book with reading glasses, a box of tea with a mug, bath salts, a candle and a soothing CD. “By catching the customer’s attention and telling a story, they might just make an impulse purchase in hopes of capturing the very idea you’re promoting—in this example, relaxation,” Carriere-Spock says.

Less is more.
If you’re telling a story with your top shelf, make sure the rest of the shelves are simple and clean. “Don’t use too many items in your regular display,” Carriere-Spock says. “I tell staff to not have more than four different SKUs on any shelf; otherwise it looks too busy and loses visual impact.”

Foster friendly competition.
Get employees’ creative merchandising ideas flowing with the motivation of a prize for the best display design. “We solicit vendors to sponsor endcap contests with their lines, and this is a lot of fun for the stores,” Smith says. “We encourage prizes that can be shared storewide, like a pizza party for the staff. And sometimes if there is a cash prize, we ask that it be donated to the store’s favorite charity. A combination of both is extra fun.”

Encourage the impulse.
Got a new product you think every shopper should see? Place it at the register. Forte says the front counter is also the best place in the store for lip balms.

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