Joel Carden, EVP of Pacific World, recently talked with Drug Store News about the high-growth nail category to share his insights on how retailers can successfully enter the at-home gel polish space and how Pacific World's gel polish technology, SensatioNail, is helping to fuel growth.
DSN: In looking at the data, it is clear that nail continues to be the star in cosmetics. Can you elaborate on the growth within the nail segment?
Joel Carden: The key driver of growth in cosmetics is always innovation. The nail category has had a significant amount of innovation within the last 18 to 24 months. Nail results that were previously only attainable at the salon are now available to consumers in the mass market. One of the most significant changes has been the introduction of the salon gel technology into the mass market, which we have been proud to pioneer with SensatioNail. The nail category continues to be the growth driver for total cosmetics. Growth within total cosmetics is as follows — all data cited is SymphonyIRI, 52 weeks for total U.S. multi-outlet, as of Feb. 24, 2013 — eyes (.1%), face (2.5%), lip (-1.6%) and nail (8.3%). Furthermore, the nail growth is driven by color polish, and color polish growth is experiencing a significant lift from the new sales in gel polish. Color polish without gel polish is up 22%, but with the gel polish added in, total color polish is up 26.4%. SensatioNail is the leading brand within this exciting new segment of gel polishes. SensatioNail sales were 66.6% of the total gel polishes for this same time frame. While gel polishes produced retail sales of $30.9 million during the last 52 weeks, our expectation is that within the next year, these sales will more than double and come in somewhere near the $75 million to $80 million mark.
DSN: How are consumers responding to the higher price points of the starter kits?
Carden: The key to consumer acceptance of this technology is the price-value relationship of the retail purchase versus what this process costs to get done in the nail salons. Consumers are realizing that they can achieve the same salon results at home for a fraction of the cost. On a recent survey that we conducted, we found that prior to using SensatioNail, 56% of the consumers went to the salon for a gel polish manicure. Once having tried SensatioNail, only 9% of these consumers have gone back to the salon for a gel manicure. Gel polishes clearly are bringing new users into the category from the salon and converting them to a retail product alternative.
DSN: For retailers, what is the key to entry into the at-home gel manicure space?
Carden: The key to entry into the retail version of gel manicures is to get the consumer to purchase the starter kit. The starter kit is the gateway product into the system. Once a consumer has the starter kit they have made the investment to get into the at-home system, which will lead to the purchase of many other products available for this consumer. This includes the individual colors and the basic kit, which includes everything necessary to do gel manicures except for the light and the color, removal tools, removal wraps, etc. Once consumers try the system, they are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the results that they achieve. They are thrilled with the fact that they can have a great manicure that lasts for up to two weeks. At this early stage in the game, the complete focus must be to have displays, price promotions, advertising and consumer education, as well as a strong social media effort to create awareness of this new retail option and to drive sales of starter kits.
DSN: How are consumers learning about this category, and more specifically, how are they hearing about SensatioNail?
Carden: The great news about this product is that the salons have already provided the preliminary education to the consumers on the process of gel manicures. As a result, we were pleased that SensatioNail had immediate strong sales results when it hit the stores. Additional keys to success and communicating to the consumers included off-shelf retail displays, featured testimonial TV advertising and a strong emphasis on social media to create awareness. We have only just begun in our efforts to create awareness, and retailers can expect to see a continued ramping up of awareness as we move forward this year.
DSN: What will continue to drive growth within the segment, and what are some upcoming trends?
Carden: There is clearly more technology and innovation on the horizon. We have a significant innovative new item launch for 2014. In fact, we believe that our new technology for 2014 will accelerate the consumer acceptance of this new major consumer innovation. We are confident that the growth for this segment of polishes has only seen the beginning phase of what will be even greater growth during the next several years.