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09/22/2021

Focus On: Scholl’s Wellness is walking on air

As a stand-alone company, Scholl’s Wellness has a spring in its step as it emphasizes innovative self-care for its Dr. Scholl’s brand
David Salazar
Managing Editor
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Despite its roots that stretch back 115 years, the current version of Dr. Scholl’s has only existed for a few years. After going through several carve-outs and acquisitions since the 1980s, the brand — acquired by Yellow Wood Partners in 2019 to become the stand-alone Scholl’s Wellness — was reunited earlier this year with its global counterpart, Scholl.

After experiencing so many changes and coming under new ownership, the brand wanted to come out strong in innovation in its latest iteration, said Kate Godbout, senior vice president of marketing at Scholl’s Wellness.

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“We really wanted to come to the market and bring innovation across a number of different foot care segments,” Godbout said. “Part of that effort was that we had a lot of really good ideas that we thought would resonate well with consumers. But beyond that, we also wanted to show up as a kind of different organization that was really consumer focused. We’ve always been a strong player in innovation, and we wanted to make clear that that legacy would continue going forward.”

[Read more: Dr. Scholl’s rolls out Foot Care & Grooming Collection]

Building on a new foundation for the company came at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic, which had an impact on the types of products Dr. Scholl’s introduced this year. As products, such as orthotics and inserts, that had typically been given a large share of shelf space were de-emphasized, the company saw growing interest in condition-relief offerings and self-care products.

“We saw that a lot of need-based categories — things like corn, bunion, blister and wart products — definitely fared well,” Godbout said. Looking to deliver on condition treatments, in April, the brand rolled out Freeze Away Max Wart Remover, which is billed as its first OTC wart remover that offers direct freeze technology by spraying a precise dosage of cooling agent directly onto warts. It differs in that other wart removers use indirect freezing, putting the cooling agent onto an applicator that is then applied to the wart.

Yet the company’s biggest pivot — and a big area of opportunity in the foot care space — was the move toward more wellness and grooming products. “[In 2020], grooming had a tremendous, double-digit uptick at most retailers,” Godbout said. “I think the consumer was voting that grooming and skin care products within foot care were something that was interesting and relevant, given the fact that they weren’t going to stores or nail salons to get that health care and were having to take care of it themselves.”

[Read more: Dr. Scholl’s Arthritis Pain Reliever offers Rx-strength diclofenac]

With an eye toward this trend, Dr. Scholl’s introduced its Foot Care & Grooming Collection. Featuring The Ultra Hydrating Foot Lotion, Ultra Hydrating Foot Cream, Severe Cracked Heel Balm, Ultra Hydrating Foot Mask and Ultra Exfoliating Heel Mask, the collection is designed around various foot-related grooming needs, from calluses and dryness to cracked heels and skin repair. Also in foot care is the Odor-X Probiotic Extract Formula Foot Spray and its Arthritis Pain reliever, which uses diclofenac sodium topical gel.

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“Our products and the grooming or skin care category, if you will, are really a nice intersection between therapy and beauty,” Godbout said. “And so we felt like having a strong regimen that had a little bit more intensive treatments with some kind of basic everyday products to sustain your feet. Really looking and feeling their best were something that the doctor sold, had a right to play in.”

The growth of wellness and self-care products during the pandemic does not mean the company is moving away from its flagship insoles and orthotics. Indeed, as business reopens and consumers venture into the world with more frequency, Godbout said the company sees an opportunity to bring these products back into view for consumers who are suffering from feet that have been improperly supported — a need state the company has dubbed “Frankenstein feet,” inspired by the stiff gait.

[Read more: Products to Watch: HRG’s 5 picks from August 2021]

“When people were stuck in lockdown at home, they were changing every aspect of their life. They were not wearing shoes anymore or they were exercising a lot more to try to stay active, so they had improperly supported feet,” she said. “Now that things are starting to kind of reopen, we feel like there is a great opportunity to reintroduce consumers to insoles and orthotics and to think differently about them as a way to solve for a lot of the pain points that they’ve had over the last, let’s say, 18 months.”

Indeed, the company has augmented its trim-to-fit insole offerings with two recent additions, Float-On-Air Foam Insoles and Eco-Foam All-Day Insoles. The Eco-Foam product and its packaging are 66% made with sustainable and recycled materials, including a cushioning foam made of plant-based materials and arch support made of natural cork. Godbout said the Eco-Foam launch was meant to underscore the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“As we think about how we want to show up in the market, we absolutely want to be on the front line of translating relevant consumer trends into products, but then also thinking about what’s meaningful to retailers,” she said, noting that many retailers are leaning into green products. “For us, it wasn’t enough just to make the changes to our packaging to be more sustainable. We actually wanted to do it in product execution, too.”

[Read more: Voices of the Industry: How the pandemic has changed retail]

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Sized-to-fit orthotics and insoles also constitute a growing area for the company. One of its latest custom-fit offerings is its Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief Sized to Fit Insoles. Made with the company’s ShockGuard technology and the new Relyx365 foam cushioning, the insoles are designed to improve the heel’s position to absorb shock and reduce pressure on it to address heel pain while also offering arch support to reduce pain from a stretching plantar fascia.

Having online-exclusive products is part of the company’s growing direct-to-consumer business, which it built out throughout the pandemic to be as educational as possible while the brand also works with retailers on omnichannel fulfillment.

The DTC site is a great way to show up as a brand and give an endless shelf; it also offers richer expert information to help consumers select products in their categories. “We like to give consumers the ability to consummate the sale on our site,” Godbout said. “We need to show and make sure we’re building strong omnichannel plans, taking advantage of the retailer marketing plans and telling the same product story in store and online, while providing richer content online to do more storytelling than at the shelf.”

[Read more: Reviving in-store traffic: How the drug channel is keeping its stores relevant]

Godbout used the company’s partnership with CVS Pharmacy as an example of how it is getting smart about merchandising and leveraging retailers’ digital capabilities to augment the in-store experience. In certain CVS stores, alongside a three-quarter length display, Dr. Scholl’s has a Custom Fit kiosk that allows consumers to get custom recommendations on products to try. But with 24 SKUs of Custom Fit products, it presents a merchandising difficulty. So the company created QR codes displayed by the kiosk that allow shoppers to buy online and have their product shipped to their homes.

“It’s allowing them the option of multiple products, some of which aren’t merchandised in the store, but they have the ability to buy that through CVS and get it delivered to them,” she said. “We’ll try to think of more opportunities just to kind of create those bridges for consumers and work with our retailers from here forward.”

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