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Critical Mass: NACDS Goers Ready to Tackle Big Issues

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Annual Meeting, expected to draw more than 2,500 retailers and suppliers, will be held through Tuesday.

Revive fragrance sales. Find the next hot category to pick up nail’s slack. Conjure ways to woo back consumers who have migrated to other channels.

That is the to-do list for chief executive officers as they head to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Annual Meeting, kicking off today at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The meeting, expected to draw more than 2,500 retailers and suppliers, will be held through Tuesday.

There’s a clarion call to get things moving. “I want to focus on what brands are doing to halt sales from trending down. Share in MULO [IRI’s terminology for multiunits, which includes food, drug, mass, dollar, club and military stores] is declining so we need to get people back from specialty, which is growing,” said one top merchant. One way she hopes to do that is to find out what companies are planning as far as next-generation digital advances.

On that front, L’Oréal is expected to be an attention-getter with a promising new makeup app designed to allow smartphones to simulate what makeup looks like when applied to the viewer’s face. Burt’s Bees, for its part, is promoting its products on electronic calendars.

Beyond the digital intervention, retailers want to see the dormant fragrance category brought back to life. According to IRI, MULO dollar sales declined almost 7 percent in women’s fragrances, 18.3 percent in women’s body mists, 5.6 percent in men’s colognes and just under one percent in men’s body sprays for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29. Retailers said sales are stale, hampered by a lack of innovation and security measures that keep scents under glass.

CVS Pharmacy and Target might have unlocked the key to success using full-size tester bars where consumers can sample the fragrances, which are glued to the fixture. Both Coty and Elizabeth Arden, the two major mass resources, have worked diligently on antitheft tools, buyers said.

To rev up men’s sales, Arden packaged some of its popular men’s fragrances such as Curve, Drakkar and Tommy in spray cans. The products can be merchandised in deodorants or fragrances.

Repeating last year’s explosive nail numbers has been a futile effort at chains. But buyers said gellike polishes are encouraging, such as L’Oréal’s Extraordinaire Gel-Lacquer 1-2-3, a three-step nail system. Red Carpet Manicure is adding nongel polishes called Red Carpet Manicure Professional Nail Lacquer for those who want to match pedicures to gel manicures. Some chains are adding brands such as China Glaze and Orly Color Blast to offer fresh choices and all are anticipating an upcoming launch from Sally Hansen.

Still, according to IRI data, nail category sales declined almost one percent in all outlets for the 52-week period ended Jan. 26. The drop impacts unit sales, which were down 3 percent.

Sales of face, lip and eye products are on the upswing, fueled by the trend of BB foundations, which pick up where BB creams left off, cat-eye runway looks and a move to brightly hued lips. According to IRI, eye sales rose 1.5 percent, lip gained 2 percent and face increased 2.3 percent for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 26.