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Innovation Touted at NACDS’ Total Store Expo

This is more important than ever since products, including nail art and BB creams, ignited sales spikes over the past year.

NEW YORK — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ meeting is back as a hotbed of new product innovation.

That’s according to a number of merchants among the 5,700 executives attending last week’s Total Store Expo in Las Vegas. The show has a green light for 2014 in Boston.

Innovation, they added, is more important than ever since products, including nail art and BB creams, ignited sales spikes over the past year.

Manufacturers agreed the format lent itself to new launches.

“This year’s NACDS Total Store Expo exceeded our expectations. Previously NACDS Marketplace typically allowed for only brief top-line business presentations, so this year we jumped at the chance to actually expand our meetings to include demonstrations of all of our existing and new technologies,” said Barry Shields, Red Carpet Manicure managing partner. “That led to many meaningful meetings with both existing partners and many new partners.”

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Buyers said the former NACDS Marketplace meeting had dwindled over the years as an incubator for new product activity. But with the debut of TSE, manufacturers saved up launches designed to pull buyers into exhibits. “We launched several product offerings, some of which are new categories for us,” said Dallas Miller, vice president of sales for Allegro, which showed makeup brushes under the Soho Beauty label, and ScrubShop, an entirely new brand of bath accessories.

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Chain representatives from Walgreens, Rite Aid and Safeway were among those who engaged in Meet the Market sessions, where many heard about up-and-coming brands. “I was pleasantly surprised with some of the finds I came across during these meetings,” said one senior executive.

Walgreens’ Shannon Curtin, group vice president and general merchandise manager of beauty, said her team found “quite a few beauty treasures.”

One company getting attention during the 10-minute meetings and then on the show floor was Keep It Kind and its youth-oriented deodorant line called Fresh Kidz. The male, female and unisex deodorants are slated for an early 2014 debut and will retail under $5. According to Rochelle Diaz, director of operations for parent Kind2Skin USA, the paraben-, alcohol- and aluminum-free line appeals to moms who still make the buying decisions for the targeted age group of seven- to 14-year-olds. The products already sell briskly in Boots, said Diaz. The company has several other products in the pipeline for the U.S.

Not all of the buzz was generated by newcomers — some of it was from companies with fresh ideas. The TSE booth award went to a perennial favorite Beauty 21/LA Colors/LA Girl. Any company with nail products and skin care was a must see as well, as chains hammer out how many lines of BB and CC creams as well as nail gels and nail art they need to serve demand. New research from Mintel illustrated the impact BB creams have made in the market. Mintel said BB cream launches spiked 50 percent so far in 2013. However, usage levels are still low suggesting there’s much more potential.

“The upturn of BB cream usage is consistent with the staggering increase of new product launches over the past year combined with strong marketing efforts designed to educate women about product benefits,” said Shannon Romanowski, beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel. “The multifunctional benefits of BB creams are broadly appealing, as the majority of makeup wearers agree that multifunctional makeup saves them time, money and allows them to reduce the number of products they use. With the recent emergence of CC and DD creams, the market is sure to continue its upward trajectory.”