By  on February 19, 2009

NEW YORK — Rite Aid is launching its own premium quality sun care line to compete with national brands and those found at high-end specialty retailers, but at a lower price tag.

Seven of the products will feature the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.

Called Rx Suncare, the eight items all retail for less than $10 and are now available at Rite Aid’s more than 4,900 stores across the country. Industry sources estimate the line could generate at least $8 million in retail sales within two years.

Sun care sales are on the rise in the mass market with Information Resources Inc. data showing that total sales volume in food, drug and mass stores hit $606 million, up 6 percent for the period ended Feb. 9 (excluding Wal-Mart) over the same period the year before. Drug chains control about 48 percent of mass sales.

“Sun care product purchases are made primarily in drugstores because sun care is skin care and skin care is considered a health-related decision,” said Bryan Shirtliff, Rite Aid’s senior vice president, category management. “To help our customers make wise sun care choices, Rite Aid and The Skin Cancer Foundation want to educate and raise awareness about the risks and proper prevention of skin cancer from UV rays.”

The eight items are: Lip Balm Sunblock SPF 45, Faces Sunblock SPF 50, Advanced Protection SPF 30, Advanced Protection SPF 50, Sport Sunblock SPF 50, Kids Sunblock SPF 50, Advanced Protection Continuous Spray, SPF 30 and a Burn Relief Mask. To earn the seal of recommendation from The Skin Cancer Foundation, each Rx Suncare product underwent stringent laboratory testing for safety and efficacy standards.

Rx Suncare is the latest of several Rite Aid initiatives to offer high-quality, prestigelike exclusives to help distinguish Rite Aid from the competition. Rite Aid has a similar program in specialty bath with its own Pure Spring labels. Private labels account for about 12 percent of total front-end sales, according to Rite Aid documents.

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