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Community connections have led to long-term success for Palmer’s

In this column, HRG’s Megan Moyer takes a look at Palmer’s and its ingredients-first approach to skin care.

If you’ve ever shopped the skin care aisles, you have seen one of the iconic skin care brands, Palmer’s, on the shelf. E.T. Browne Drug Company, the makers of Palmer’s, originated in 1840. Mr. Edward Thomas Browne partnered with Doctor Palmer to co-found the company, originally creating creams and ointments. Current ownership took over in 1971 and began reviving the company by creating soaps, fade creams, and more.

Today, Luigi (Lou) Fata, vice president of sales at E.T. Browne, says it is an “ingredients first” company. Arnold Neis purchased the company in 1971 after working for other pharmaceutical companies. Neis’ background was chemistry, and he grew up in his dad’s pharmacy, where he watched his father create products to meet patient needs. One of the ingredients his father used was cocoa butter because it blends and absorbs easily. Neis started experimenting with it and developed Palmer’s iconic cocoa butter jar. Neis is still active in the company. His son is the current president, and his grandson recently joined the company, bringing in the third generation to continue the family legacy.

The cocoa butter jar is one of Palmer’s most well-known products, but few realize that hair care products preceded it. “Our expertise is multicultural hair – all textures beyond straight,” said Fata. He continued, “Just like with our skin care products, we started out serving the multicultural community.”

[Read more: Beauty is in the brow]

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Fata says differentiators for the hair and skin care lines are the ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients used. While cocoa butter is a main ingredient in many of their products, coconut is also a popular ingredient in their products, especially in hair care products. The hair care line contains 15 different SKUs ranging from shampoos and conditioners to leave-in deep conditioners, polishing serums, and scalp oils. “The hair care ingredients are designed to provide moisturization and bring life back to hair cuticles for textured hair consumers,” Fata stated. 

Skin care is the largest portion of Palmer’s business and what they are most recognized for. The cocoa butter Original Jar is well known and the Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks to help minimize stretch marks during pregnancy is right behind it as a top seller. Fata says their body oils are becoming very popular too as customers are adding them to their daily moisturizing regimens. Fata also mentioned a significant innovation to their hair care line will be introduced in January and they are excited to bring the items to consumers.

When asked about building loyalty among their customers, Fata said Palmer’s is a value brand that does exactly what it promises to. Fata says while Palmer’s has strong loyalty with consumers of all ethnicities, the brand over-indexes significantly with the multicultural consumer in the inner cities they have served since their inception. He states the company has stayed true to who they are, and their naturally derived, ingredient-based products are highly efficacious, which has created deeper brand loyalty. “Our customers know what to expect because our products do what they say they are going to do,” Fata said. “Our products are wonderful and they provide a great value at the right price.”

[Read more: Making sun protection part of a daily routine]

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Palmer’s utilizes social media to stay connected to their customers, including Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Tik Tok. “We’re up near 100,000 followers on Tik Tok and almost 90% of those followers are highly engaged,” Fata commented. Fata says they’ve seen customers “cocktail” their oils and lotions on social media, creating new concoctions which often influence product innovations. Fata continued, “Loyal, highly engaged consumers are what makes Palmer’s authentic and special!”

Giving back is important to the company and Palmer’s works with First Choice, a global sales and merchandising company to impact communities they both serve. The companies have become tightly linked for over 25 years and began an initiative together two years ago to provide four scholarships annually to students at Benedict College, a historically Black college in Columbia, South Carolina. They also sponsor an executive speaker series at the Business School of Benedict College as well as offer three internships at E.T. Browne each year. Fata sits on the Board of Directors for the Benedict College Business School.

Legacy brands that listen to their customers and provide products those customers find to be a great value will have lasting power, as Palmer’s has had. The company has evolved to embrace the latest means of connecting with their customers and continues to innovate to meet consumer needs today.

Megan Moyer is HRGs corporate marketing manager. E.T. Browne advertises in HRG’s IN.depth publication targeted at independent pharmacies. HRG is in the details of retail, working with product manufacturers, distributors, retailers, technology partners, and other industry organizations to provide data & analysis, shopper experience, brand development, fixture coordination, and retail communications solutions. HRG reviews new health, beauty, and wellness (HBW) items every month and assesses their potential for longevity in the monthly Products to Watch feature in Drug Store News as well as the annual Future 50 list.

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