NEW YORK -- Long known for its array of vitamins and diet supplements, General Nutrition Center stores are now flexing their muscles in skin and hair care.
GNC -- the nation's largest health and nutrition chain -- has watched competitors such as The Body Shop, Estee Lauder's Origins, Beauty Without Cruelty and Blackmores build a substantial beauty following by emphasizing a natural positioning. Mass market retailers such as Pittsburgh-based Thrift Drug and Kmart Corp., Troy, Mich., also have been adding natural lines to their beauty selection.
GNC, which has 1,540 company and franchised units in the U.S., hopes to get more of the customers attracted by vitamins or other health-related merchandise to come into the beauty departments.
Despite the popular image of a well-toned male frequenting GNC, the company said 65 percent of its clientele is female, making the chain well- positioned to expand its beauty business.
"We feel there is a correlation between feeling good and looking good," explained Michael Stoughton, sales manager for cosmetics, health maintenance care and apparel for GNC. "We've put an emphasis on building our beauty line."
Beauty, according to Stoughton, accounts for about 3 percent of store sales. GNC hopes to almost double that with its private label line of beauty items sold under the Natural Solutions logo. GNC units average annual sales of $400,000.
An ongoing repackaging program of Natural Solutions, a line with 35-plus stockkeeping units, began last September. The new design features a more clinical, health-oriented look.
Natural Solutions had been packaged in an array of colors with no coherent theme. Now, Stoughton said, there is a uniform look.
The line consists of hair care, eye care, nail care, teenage skin care and massage items. The assortment is also being fine-tuned to reflect market needs. Among the new items are a hair care system containing a shampoo, a conditioner and a supplement selling for $17.99 and glycerin soaps at $1.99.
Stoughton singled out the Natural Solutions Teen Skin kit as a new sku that is "doing really well."
GNC contracts out the production of its Natural Solutions line, which uses all natural ingredients that are not tested on animals. The firm also intersperses several nationally known brands in its beauty mix, including Blackmores skin care, Mill Creek and Rachel Perry.Jeff Tolrud, a franchisee in Tampa, Fla., estimated that 90 percent of his cosmetics mix is GNC private label. He said new signs and fixtures offered by GNC have helped raise awareness of Natural Solutions.
"We're seeing more people pick up a nail care or massage oil while they are here for their vitamins," said Tolrud, whose store competes with a Wal-Mart and a Sally's Beauty Supply for beauty sales.
Stoughton hopes to see the percentage of GNC's own label increase in the assortment. The private label items can yield almost twice the gross margins of national brands.
The company has made it known in financial reports that it hopes to continue to shift sales to higher-margin vitamins, sports nutrition supplements and beauty items and away from less profitable food products.
Stoughton also hasn't ruled out the addition of a color cosmetics line. "Right now we're concentrating on hair, skin and body care," he said.
Surprisingly, while specialty stores such as Goodebodies and drugstores like Thrift Drug are building bath care volume, Stoughton said GNC's growth is still primarily in skin and hair care.
Although the size of GNC stores varies dramatically, most units stock at least 12 feet of beauty items stacked five to seven shelves high.
To highlight the new packaging the chain has created green wooden fixtures similar to those used in specialty chains such as The Body Shop. The beauty items are in the front of the store.
"We're trying to create a boutique image," Stoughton said.
He added that the fixturing continues to evolve as GNC opens new prototypes. Its latest look is on display at a new store in Schaumburg, Ill.
Stoughton said GNC is also planning to start promoting its beauty items in its advertising, which has traditionally focused on nutritional supplements.
Niche products continue to outperform traditional color cosmetics.
Several mass market chains, including Walgreen Co., Caldor and F&M, are converting unused sales space by using clip strips of a line of unusual items marketed by Cosmetically Sealed Industries, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.
The clip strips -- long panels with hooks on them to hold merchandise -- can be affixed to the edges of shelves. Stores have long used the devices in other departments, but Cosmetically Sealed is the first line to make use of them in beauty.Cosmetically Sealed features Sealed With a Kiss, a roll-on lip fixative designed to make lipstick smear-proof; My Nails Are Sealed, a calcium-based nail strengthener, and My Nik is Sealed, a product that stops bleeding caused by razor cuts. While there are similar products aimed at the men's shaving market, retailers said this one is the first targeted to women.
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: Dominique Maître)
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)