Byline: Faye Brookman / Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — Rather than simply retailing a diverse selection of bath items, many mass marketers heading to this year’s HBA Global Expo will be looking for resources to create their own brands.
Discounters are aggressive with private labels. Target Stores is a good example with many of its brands in bath, skin care and even cosmetics.
Drug chains are starting to follow suit with proprietary brands. Eckerd Corp. just launched a line called Comfy and Rite Aid, CVS and Duane Reade also have exclusive bath collections. “There are so many competitors with merchandise that looks similar,” said Paul Dembow, president of Arizona Natural Resources Inc. “That’s why so many retailers are getting into private label.”
Many manufacturers have both bases covered. Mana Products, for example, produces State of Mind, a name brand, as well as private labels such as Eckerd’s Comfy.
“Many retailers find it is a good mix to offer both so customers have a choice,” explained Valerie Stricker, the co-founder of State of Mind.
According to Informa- tion Resources Inc. private labels are the second-largest sellers behind Vaseline Intensive Care. That doesn’t surprise Carol Walker, vice president of marketing for Burlington Toiletries, which produces private label bath and body lines for Target, Toys “R” Us and others.
“The category is popular,” she said. “But you have to try to create a point of difference.”