Sexual wellness: New possibilities for chain drug retailers

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Known variably as sexual health, sexual well-being and family planning, the sexual wellness category is intertwined with social and cultural trends. Although both male and female contraceptives are staples of the product assortment, the continued arrival of more personal intimacy and enhancement items compels the category’s boundaries to evolve.

Influencing this evolution is the convenient online retailing of these intimacy products.
According to SymphonyIRI Group Inc., over-the-counter contraceptives increased in dollar sales in the past year, while other subcategory purchases have declined.

Women’s contraceptives in particular saw strong growth. Drug store sales account for approximately three-quarters of the total contraceptive market, and their share continues to grow. This can be attributed to the space devoted to the category, which is generally double the size of those in the supermarket channel. Shoppers appear to respond well to the options afforded by a broad variety of these highly personal items.

Additionally, female contraceptives and other intimacy products seem to be catching on amongst a greater portion of women shopping the category.

To make your selection appealing to customers who prefer to purchase in-store, keep shoppers’ preferences to purchase certain sexual wellness products online in mind when choosing your selection. Consider health and wellness needs as well as desire for enhancement — try stocking products that a shopper would be surprised to find, yet comfortable enough to purchase in-store.

Shoppers of sexual wellness typically include men and women of ages ranging from 20 to 60. Carry products for excitement and pleasure for younger consumers, and functional products for more mature shoppers. Be sure to include top brands of pregnancy tests and fertility kits, as consumers of these items are highly brand loyal and will shop elsewhere if they do not find their preferred brand.

Brick-and-mortar retailers with e-commerce sites can find new opportunities in the category, too. Manufacturers are expanding their sexual wellness lines to include more mainstream retail-friendly options. Consider expanding your online assortment accordingly. While shoppers may already be familiar with your online selection, add discreet shelf signage directing them to your website to drive traffic and increase orders.

To make it even more compelling (and easier) for shoppers to visit your e-commerce site, add QR codes to this signage. Shoppers can then instantly see the extent of your online selection. Ultimately, adding a conveniently accessible route to your online assortment may increase shopper satisfaction in-store while integrating your physical and e-commerce operations.

With a wider variety of products available, the traditional size and placement of the category may not support the breadth of offerings. Dedicate more space to sexual wellness, and maintain shoppers’ discretion and privacy in the category while balancing the need to keep this traditionally high-theft department within view.

To make your sexual wellness department approachable and to encourage cross-purchases, add feminine health and men’s health items to the mix. Doing so not only will help increase sales but will make the department a real destination for wellness.

Elizabeth Russell is an industry writer and researcher with Hamacher Resource Group Inc., a research, marketing and category management firm specializing in consumer health care at retail.


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