The HBA category was in especially high demand during the height pandemic, but even during normal times it can inspire trips as well as impulse buys.
The health and beauty category is one of the most diverse groupings of products on convenience store shelves today.
Other categories have some common denominator. Snacks have themes like salty, crunchy or sweet. Tobacco products contain some form of nicotine. But items that fall under the umbrella of health and beauty aids (HBA) range from first-aid necessities to cosmetics, from personal hygiene to protective gear and more. While some might say this broadness waters down the category’s significance to profitability, others could assert that variety adds inventory flexibility. The fact is these products carry some of the largest profit margins, which makes them an important category to convenience stores.
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) reported that the HBA category produces less than 2% of total annual in-store dollar sales. However, its average profit margin registers at more than 52%. That all adds up. Take soap goods as an example; this line lathered up sales of more than $140 million in 2020 per Statista.
Other leading HBA product families include over-the-counter medications, like analgesics, cold/allergy/sinus remedies and gastrointestinal tablets. Vitamins, cough drops and eye care products are additional health-related items that put up consistent performances.
Of course, COVID-19 cast a brighter light on the category, ginning up unprecedented demand for personal disinfecting products such as alcohol wipes and hand sanitizers. Although the frenzy for these specific items may have cooled as the initial reaction to the pandemic settled into a pattern, they’ve definitely proven to be a profitable HBA addition.
When evaluating the category’s relevance, be sure to weigh the traditional seasonal appeal associated with many products. Fall and winter tend to increase demand for tissues and cold relief. Sunny days in spring and summer translate into more need of sunscreens. These calendar relationships offer marketing opportunities to highlight HBA selections.
Perhaps the best reason to consider health and beauty aids as an important category comes down to the convenience factor. For that person who needs a bandage right away or seeks pain relief, a quick stop at the nearest convenience store provides immediate satisfaction.
Then again, there’s an impulse factor to the category. For customers who come in for snacks, foodservice or a beverage, passing by an aisle stocked with lip balm, eyedrops or even nail polish remover can trigger a response. Suddenly they realize a need for that HBA item. For c-stores, that ends with larger total basket sales, which is always important.