COMESTIC CENTER TREATING THE AGONY OF THE FEET

Byline: C.T.

NEW YORK — Pampering is reaching a new low — the feet.
Cosmetic Center, a mass market HBA specialty retailer based in Savage, Md., recently unveiled plans to aggressively promote foot care in its beauty departments, confirming that its shoppers’ desire for products that pamper extends beyond the bathtub.
Until recently, manufacturers have been responsible for driving growth in the beauty-oriented segment of foot care with an influx of new products such as fruit-scented pumice scrub lotions and minty moisturizing lotions. The firms reinforced this new image with packaging that’s colorful and playful and uses words such as soothing and refreshing to describe the content’s benefits.
Retailers haven’t been as quick to understand the new segment. Most stock the items, say manufacturers, but there’s an even split between those who put them in beauty sections and those who keep them in more medicinal foot care sections that are also home to antifungal creams and corn removers.
Cosmetic Center with its 69 stores sees foot care as a growth category in beauty and plans to take the offensive by putting up permanent foot care gondolas with 20 running feet of product in all stores by the middle of March, said Bob Kauffman, product manager. The sections will be located in skin care departments and will have “no Dr. Scholls,” said Kauffman.
The chain discovered foot care’s potential when it ran a promotion last summer titled, “Save your feet from the heat with our cool values.” Products were brought together in an end cap display and an in-store flyer highlighted their special pricing.
Focusing on foot care in beauty departments makes sense, said Kauffman, because the chain “gets a lot of economically advantaged professional people who are willing to pamper them-selves and willing to try some of the new things.”
Most of the items, which were already carried in the store, are being merchandised together for the first time since last summer’s promotion. The assortment includes a variety of lotions, soaks and powders in addition to a $14.99 pedicure kit from Earth Therapeutics and a reflexology kit from Wilson Marketing that has a massage gel, moisture seal and educational pamphlet and sells for $12.99.
There’s also a high-end kit from Earth Therapeutics with tea tree oils and nail brushes that’s priced at $29.99.
Suppliers say foot care will keep up a fast-footed pace in 1997, with new product and promotional activity. “You’re going to see a tremendous rise in the number of foot care products,” said Peter Acerra, vice president of marketing at Naturistics.
Freeman Cosmetics was one of the first mass market suppliers to give foot care a beauty spin two years ago when it turned its one foot care item into a whole line called Barefoot, said Jill Freeman, director of marketing.
The line was launched with three items and distinctive tube packaging shaped to resemble the toes of a foot at one end. Today the line has six items and “is one of Freeman’s top four brands,” said Freeman. The other three top brands are: Beautiful Skin, Botanical Hair Care and Beautiful Bath.
Iced Bayberry Foot Scrub and Wild Mint & Lemon Balm Foot Lotion are the line’s most recent additions, launched in the fourth quarter of 1996. The Barefoot line also has a Fresh Herbal Foot Soak, Plum & Pumice Foot Scrub, Peppermint & Poppies Foot Lotion, and Peach Blossom and Balm Mint Liquid Foot Powder. Each 5.3-oz. tube costs $3.29.
Freeman’s promotional plans for 1997 will include the Barefoot line. In the second quarter, there’s a buy-one, get-one-free promotion, and for the fourth quarter, Freeman will repeat its Ride in the Roses Sweepstakes that will have a free product attached to the package, promotion-specific merchandising units, a consumer sweepstakes and network and cable TV ads.
Six months ago, Naturistics added a Eucalyptus Foot Scrub for $4.25 and a Tea Tree Oil Foot Spray for $3.25 to what had been its only foot care item, a Peppermint Foot Lotion for $7.00. It’s currently shipping the new Bay Laurel Foot Soak priced at $6.00.
For spring, Naturistics is looking to a Feet First promotion to give its foot care line a kick. All four foot care items as well as three nail polishes will have free on-pack pedicure tools and will come in a pre-packed counter-top display.
Other suppliers are also looking to get a foot up in foot care.
Neutrogena brought its Norwegian Foot Cream to the U.S. market fourth quarter last year. Germany-based Kneipp introduced three foot care items around the same time: a Herbal Foot Soak, $7.00; a Herbal Foot Spray, $18.00; and a Herbal Foot Balm, $12.00.
Alpha Hydrox has marketed several foot care items since 1995. They are a Peach Mango Foot Scrub, a Peppermint Deep Therapy Foot Cream and an Extra-Strength Foot Cream. All three retail for under $10.00.

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