Foot care cos. take steps to nab female consumers

9/28/2009

There is opportunity in foot care, though sales are relatively flat on account of the economy, and the number of units ringing through the cash register is significantly down. Foot care always had been labeled somewhat recession-resistant, with the argument being that consumers strapped for cash more likely would replace their insoles in an effort to extend the life, and comfort, of their shoes.

But according to data provided by Information Resources Inc., sales of foot devices for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9 for food, drug and mass outlets (excluding Walmart) were only up slightly by 0.8% to $411.6 million. Worse, unit volume dropped 5.3% at 59.4 million.

The opportunity, however, may be even more skewed toward the female shopper than in years past, when insoles and devices designed with the woman in mind were first introduced. And that, too, may be driven by the economy as women gravitate toward spa treatments at home. One of the big hits in the past year has been Telebrand’s Ped Egg, a “foot file” that helps remove calloused skin, with sales up 11.5% to $57.9 million.

“The women’s business has been the healthier of the two, versus men,” Implus’ EVP sales Steve Head said. Along those lines—products appealing to that female shopper—Implus is launching its Airplus for Her shoe comfort kit. “We’ve had some success in specialty with kits—putting more than one item together,” Head said. “It takes your average price point up and gives the consumer an all-in-one stop shop.”

The new Implus kit includes three different kinds of insole support and is designed to potentially bring new users into the category by introducing women to new foot care SKUs.

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