HEALTH

Condoms get thinner as intimacy health expands its scope

BY Michael Johnsen

It’s about striking a balance when it comes to marketing and merchandising within the intimacy health space. Suppliers in the space have cautioned retailers against sexual health promotion efforts that can be viewed as lascivious, lest they become off-putting to one of the key demographics walking the OTC aisles, namely mom.

As the category and the shelf expand to include more than just condoms, and sales rise — revenues generated by personal lubricants totaled $225.6 million for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, according to IRI, while sales of other such intimacy-oriented products as condoms and devices totaled $399.3 million — retail pharmacies and mass outlets have become clinical health-and-wellness destinations whose in-store experience and offerings must recognize the category’s expanded purview and build trust with shoppers.

Key examples of intimacy health solutions previously relegated to neon-lit storefronts that are finding an appropriate space in mass outlets are personal massagers. A growing mainstream appeal for these products has seen a corresponding sales effect — sexual enhancement devices, including personal massagers, saw $28.7 million in sales across total U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, according to IRI — a 3.4% increase from the previous period. Suppliers said this growth is due in part to their approach.

“[LELO is] frequently found in Cosmopolitan, GQ, Men’s Health and Huffington Post, and this kind of PR and marketing reflects market acceptance,” said Zabrina Law, marketing manager at San Jose, Calif.-based LELO, which makes a line of personal massagers. “We have a long-standing trust relationship with our customers, with calls to action that are followed with aligned and expected customer behavior.”

While LELO considers itself a luxury brand, such category mainstays as LifeStyles, Church & Dwight and Reckitt-Benckiser have entered the category with moderately priced offerings that span the need spectrum. Trojan’s Vibrations line includes both a selection of massagers and vibrating rings. LifeStyles sells the a:muse line of personal massagers and vibrating rings, as does RB’s Durex brand through the Durex Play line, which includes the Delight Vibrating Bullet and the Ring of Bliss vibrating ring.

Even as the reach of intimacy health expands, companies continue to innovate on the perennially trafficked condom category, which is seeing thin options constitute a large and growing segment.

“Thin and soft is very important to the consumer,” Yu Tadano, a sales manager at Okamoto USA, said. In addition to its Beyond Seven brand, Okamoto is offering its 0.04 line, which the company said is about half as thin as comparable condoms and constructed from a high-tech latex called Sheerlon.

LifeStyles likewise is capitalizing on the trend toward new, thinner condoms. “We continue to address [the thin] segment with Skyn and LifeStyles, exemplified most recently with the launch of LifeStyles Zero, now the thinnest condom on the market,” Jeyan Heper, LifeStyles CEO, said.

While thin is in, consumers also are looking for more natural ingredients within the intimacy health category.

For example, Okamoto offers its 0.04 condoms with an aloe lubricant option as another point of differentiation. The natural aloe extract is specially designed to deliver maximum comfort and the smoothest feeling possible, the company said.

Other companies capitalizing on the natural trend include Good Clean Love, whose officials said marketing toward the trend has driven results. “Natural is the reason our brand is up in triple digits,” Wendy Strgar, CEO of the Eugene, Ore.-based personal lubricant manufacturer, said. “That transition is happening. [Organic] represents some interesting white space. On most of the shelves, we’re the only organic brand.”

In such an inherently personal category, the key to growing sales, according to LELO’s Law, is to create a retail experience that earns and feeds trust with consumers. LifeStyles’ Heper suggested retailers offer a product selection that offers start-to-finish offerings that go beyond contraceptives.

“Merchandisers should consider ways to expand brand interactions from a sole focus on protection solutions to an expanded ‘conversation’ that encompasses the sensual relationship from start to finish, highlighting ways to enhance pleasure and intimacy and showcasing better education on how to live a healthy sexual lifestyle.” Heper said.

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Task Force recommends against using vitamin D, calcium to prevent fractures

BY Michael Johnsen

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday recommended against the supplementation of vitamin D or calcium in an effort to prevent fractures or falls in older adults. Instead, the Task Force suggested clinicians advise their patients to exercise or to seek a physical therapy service.

“We found that taking low doses of vitamin D and calcium does not prevent women who have gone through menopause from getting fractures,” Carol Mangione, a Task Force member, said. The Task Force based the recommendation after reviewing the evidence on supplementation for the primary prevention of fractures in adults who live at home and have no history of fractures related to osteoporosis. “We need more research to understand if taking higher doses of vitamin D or calcium helps to prevent fractures in women who have gone through menopause — or at any dose for men or younger women.”

Vitamin D and calcium are critical nutrients nonetheless, the Council for Responsible Nutrition stated in response to the Task Force recommendation, though the association did not counter the specific recommendations. “CRN reminds consumers that no one is exempt from the need to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium. Both nutrients are critical to overall health, especially bone health, and most people do not get enough of either,” Andrea Wong, vice president scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN, said. “We also remind consumers to talk with their doctors or other healthcare practitioners about developing their own individualized plan that evaluates their vitamin D and calcium status for possible deficiency and considers the potential benefits of supplementation, especially those people at risk of osteoporosis or vitamin D deficiency.”

The Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and medicine that works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services and preventive medications.

 

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IRI: Consumers rewarding ‘new’ products over line extensions

BY Michael Johnsen

IRI on Monday named last year’s most successful consumer packaged goods launches in with the release of its 2017 New Product Pacesetters report. Thousands of new brands hit retail shelves during 2017, with 49% of the top-ranking brands hailing from small manufacturers — defined as those earning less than $1 billion annually — and accounting for 26% of Pacesetter dollars.

Overall, the top-selling 200 new brands captured cumulative year-one sales of more than $4.6 billion across IRI’s multi-outlet geography.

“Consumers are demanding products that are customized to their needs, and this type of targeted innovation continues to put small and niche companies on the New Product Pacesetter map,” Susan Viamari, vice president of thought leadership for IRI, said. “Just five years ago, an estimated nine out of every 10 Pacesetters launched were extensions of existing brand lines. In 2017, 40% of food and beverage and 25% of non-food Pacesetters were brands entirely new to the CPG marketplace. This clearly demonstrates consumers’ willingness to try ‘unknown’ brands. Millennials, in particular, are more moved by experiences and solutions to their needs and less likely to purchase based solely on brand name.”

“Smaller, more targeted product launches have become the new norm in CPG aisles, as manufacturers look to enhance impact with launches that align more closely with key consumer needs and wants,” Larry Levin, executive vice president of consumer and shopper marketing for IRI, said. “In a testament to the power of this shift, 20% of this year’s top-selling launches earned less than $10 million during their first year on the shelves, continuing a trend we found in last year’s analysis.”

For the top 100 food and beverage champions, median year-one sales were $14.5 million, excluding outlier Halo Top, which earned year-one sales of $342.2 million. All of the top 10 New Product Pacesetter brands were new market entrants, though many of them — including Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee, Nestlé Splash and Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch — benefited from the equity their manufacturers already enjoy in the marketplace, IRI researchers noted.

Of the 20 largest 2017 Pacesetter brands, 85% command a price premium compared to their respective category averages. PepsiCo’s LIFEWTR, for instance, sells at a significant premium compared to other convenience/still waters. The brand hit strong in the market as a purified water, pH-balanced with electrolytes added for taste.

Candy and gum accounted for 9% of food Pacesetter dollars, which is in line with trends seen during the past five years, IRI noted. The largest launch in this area was Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch, a line of milk chocolate bars with a shortbread crunch and creamy fillings. Healthier-for-you indulgences are becoming more prevalent, though. For instance, Weight Watchers ice cream treats are deliciously decadent treats at only 4 SmartPoints value or less.

In the dinner sector, the largest launch was SmartMade by Smart Ones, a nutritious and delicious frozen meal inspired by the quality ingredients and smart cooking techniques used in the home. Eighteen of the 76 food Pacesetters are breakfast solutions, which cater to consumers at both ends of the wellness spectrum by offering both indulgent flavor experiences, such as Kellogg’s Cinnamon Frosted Flakes (ranked 19th) and healthier, on-the-go options, like Jimmy Dean Delights Frittatas (ranked 23rd).

On the non-food side, median year-one sales inched up just slightly, to $17.8 million from $17.6 million, bolstered by the slight uptick in the number of brands earning between $40 million and $59 million. Brands in this range are primarily higher-ticket general merchandise items, such as cookware and hair-styling tools.

Co-branded solutions are bringing the benefits and experiences together in one convenient solution. Tide Simply Plus Oxi, for instance, fights stains and odors with twice the “Oxi fighting power.” There’s no need to pretreat the clothes. Cosmetic and hair care products also demonstrated the power of fusing benefits to enhance the value proposition. Maui Moisture, for example, is a hair care line that heals and hydrates. The line is gluten-, paraben- and silicone-free, starting with 100% aloe juice and coconut water.

“Innovating to meet core needs and wants is crucial to ensuring new product success, but the challenge doesn’t end there. For a new product to be truly successful, it is up to marketers to ensure that the product — and messaging — are where the shopper is, when the shopper is ready to buy,” said Viamari. “Through big data and advanced analytics, CPG marketers do have visibility into where shoppers go to learn about new products, as well as into what the highest-potential retail banners are, and even where the highest potential locations exist within each of these banners. By understanding key shoppers — what they want, where they go to learn about products and where they go to try new brands — marketers can influence purchase decisions with messaging and assortment that drive sales.”

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