Innovation is key to foot care category growth

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Innovation is key to foot care category growth

Drug Store News spoke with Dan Feldman, president of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Profoot, to talk about the future of the foot care category and what drives its growth.

Drug Store News: Tell us about Profoot Care and its history.

Dan Feldman: Profoot Care, which was started by my dad Len Feldman, has been around for more than 30 years. At first, we were a direct-mail company that relied on new products and innovation to grow. My dad quickly found that some of our most successful items were in the foot care industry. The company’s founders saw an opportunity in retail when they noticed that few of the best-selling foot care items were available at retail. So, we created retail packaging and started to work with merchants to get products into their foot care sets. But little did we understand just how dominate one brand was in the category.

DSN: What’s the state of the company now? What are some of your product offerings?

DF: Today, Profoot is the No. 2 brand in the foot care segment. We are in virtually every chain in the country and have products at retailers in more than 20 countries around the world. We continue to innovate and right now, our current pipeline for new, innovative products is the most robust I have seen in years. That is saying a lot because we have always had a robust pipeline.

In the last few years, we have entered into the first aid category with our Procure line. We are extremely optimistic about our future in first aid and, this year, we are launching our first OTC item in the line, a hydrocortisone cream, with a clean label.

DSN: How are you supporting these products to the trade?

DF: We use social media quite effectively, and we do a lot of advertising online. The hydrocortisone cream, for example, will be appearing on Dr. Oz, WebMD and through our partnership with Univision. In store, we like to spend the lion share of our funds with the retail chains, and we do a significant amount of co-op advertising with them.

DSN: What do retailers need to do to maximize sales from the foot care category and your individual products?

DF: Retailers need to understand that innovation is what drives the foot care category, and that is the capital-T truth. There is no substitute for it. No advertising program, packaging concept or private-label program will give the same long-term growth to this category.

We understand that retailers have certain directives to grow private label, but I feel it is often at the expense of real innovation, and that is not the answer for the growth of the category. We are seeing that now. We have an aging population, and seemingly limitless new technology processes that allows us to make new products, and more creativity. Yet, we are not seeing growth in foot care and there is no excuse for it.

Buyers need to start paying attention to innovation. They need to take chances on vendors like us, and on products that break the mold and push the category. Without those items, they will not get new customers, and may end up losing customers.

In addition to that, brick-and-mortar retailers have to understand that in foot care they have a unique opportunity over online retailers. Yes, the consumer plans the purchase beforehand, but the final decision is almost always made at the set in store. They need to feel and touch these products. It is a customer-engaging category. Until Amazon figures out how to offer that, brick-and-mortar retailers have a unique advantage.

It becomes our responsibility to show retailers how to interact and engage with their customers. Our job is to show them innovative packaging strategies and products, and how to adopt these strategies into their overall merchandising philosophies.

Dan Feldman is president of Profoot.

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