The Real Green Scene
Today’s New York Times cites statistics that green products are losing allure in the face of recessionary spending. Chats with retailers, however, paint a different story.
The Times mentions a few products and categories where green hasn’t performed up to expectations. For example, Clorox’s Green Works carried endorsement from the Sierra Club and got major distribution in Wal-Mart. Sales for the introduction topped $100 million. Green Works’ sales since have fallen to about $60 million. Experts said shoppers want green products, but don’t want to pay more.
But, as retailers and manufacturers gear up for major industry meetings, both are talking about renewed interest in natural. Many said all categories declined, but that as shoppers are returning, they have natural and green on their minds. And many suppliers have brought prices in line so customers aren’t afraid of the price tag.
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What buyers did say confuses shoppers, however, is when a mainstream product introduces a green alternative that looks too similar to the original. Fructis is one example a few merchants cited. “If a shopper sees two similar bottles next to each other, they don’t know what to do,” said one buyer.
The other issue with natural is efficacy. As shoppers come back to green, they will need to be wowed with the quality of the products. It also seems there are categories where natural is making a difference. While cleaning products might not be as important, skin care and other products applied to the face are getting a once-over, according to Walgreens’ Shannon Petree, the divisional vice president and general merchandise manager for beauty and personal care. “People are starting to link what they put on their face and their health more.”
Finally, there remains the question of how to merchandise green products. Do retailers need special areas separate from traditional products? Or, is integration the key? The major players have made it clear they prefer segregated departments, as seen at Target, Wal-Mart and Walgreens. End caps here or there of natural products, such as Yes To Carrots, help introduce nontraditional natural shoppers to the array. Ulta also is making a vote for separate sections and is merchandising stores with more natural departments and products.
Consumer data may show natural lagging, but retailers who are looking ahead see more green in green in the year to come.
People, Places and Things
A few words with Kiara Vacchio, a makeup artist who helped teens achieve prom looks this year. Prom is a big category, promoted heavily this year by merchants, such as Lord & Taylor and Ulta.
WWDBeautyNews: What are major hairstyles for prom this year?
Kiara Vacchio: We are seeing a lot of side and messy buns. Many girls ask for looks like Taylor Swift. There’s not as many fussy updos. Also many want side braids across the top and then curls hanging down.
WWDBeautyNews: What about makeup?
K.V.: While many ask for natural looks, I really like to have fun for prom. I am using more bold colors on eyes and pinks on lips. I am trying not to have a smoky-eye look for prom, but a fresh glow on lids. I especially like lavenders with many of the prom looks.
What’s In Store
NACDS Starts Next Week: About 2,500 chain drugstore executives comes to Scottsdale, Ariz., April 30 to May 3 for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Annual Meeting. After a successful debut last year, NACDS will offer a mobile Web-based application to keep attendees up to date with meeting events.
Vitabath Expands: Vitabath, a bath and body brand that dates back more than 50 years, is looking to attract a whole new generation of women with the introduction of 17 new body washes. Vitabath was “in the bath” category before it was fashionable and originally had a large department store following.