Merchandising Tips to Boost HBC Sales

Consumers visit c-stores for more than just snacks, beverages

women shopping in HBC

Brought to you by Lil’ Drug Store Products.

Consumers might not always venture into convenience stores specifically for health and beauty care items, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need them. As a growing number of consumers—especially millennials—are visiting c-stores for more than just snacks and beverages, it’s wise not to forget about other important and profitable categories.  

This is especially true during colder times of year, when consumers need immediate relief for a variety of health issues. Although many consumers may first think of drug or mass channels for health and beauty care (HBC) needs, c-store retailers can gain a large share of HBC sales by placing seasonally focused displays in stores when category sales are at their peak.  

The lip treatment category is an example of an HBC category that experiences a seasonal sales peak from October to January. Lil’ Drug Store Products saw this seasonality as an opportunity for c-stores and collaborated with Carmex to create a limited time “buy one get one free” package that was only available on counter top displays.  

Because display space can be tough to find in c-stores, Lil’ Drug and Carmex designed the display so it could fit efficiently on store counters within a 6-by-7-inch retail footprint. When placed at the checkout counter, the Carmex display with the limited time “buy one get one free” promotional offer made it easy for c-store shoppers to pick up a tube of Carmex while they were grabbing a snack or beverage.

“It is an opportunity for c-store retailers to deliver convenience to their shoppers when they need it most,” says Doug Marquardt, director of marketing for Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Lil’ Drug Store Products. “With the right product offer at the right time of year, it was also a great way for convenience stores to pick up incremental sales that might have gone to another channel.”

How much did c-stores gain by placing Carmex promotional displays? Retail sales results showed that c-stores with the promotional Carmex displays had +38% higher lip treatment category sales than retailers without the merchandisers, according to Nielsen Convenience Channel data.

Similarly, c-stores that highlighted displays of cough and cold remedies in January and February saw a 27% sales boost over those that did not, according to Nielsen data.

Furthermore, merchandising and displays of health and beauty products can be a good opportunity to appeal to customers looking for different packaging sizes.

“We’ve learned that there are shoppers who want single-use packs and there are shoppers who want to stock up,” he says. “Offer both types of products.”

Smart merchandising of HBC products isn’t difficult, but it does require some advance planning. Retailers should have a good understanding of seasonal category peaks.

“Know what time of year the category spikes,” Marquardt says. “And be sure to plan ahead so you have the displays on the floor before that hits.”

Advance planning and understanding of seasonal category spikes, coupled with targeted merchandising and displays, can help c-stores boost profits in the sometimes-neglected HBC channel.