Merchandising natural products – what approach is best for your pharmacy?

August 30, 2018By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy, Step into Natural

by Jen Johnston, CHHC, senior marketing services account manager, for the Step into Natural blog series

If you’ve been following our “Step into Natural” blog series for a while, and are starting to bring in more natural products, you might be wondering about the best way to merchandise them. Like so many things, it depends.

Let me take you through the three approaches stores can take. These approaches were first presented by Dave Wendland (our VP strategic relations) at ECRM’s Cough/Cold, Analgesics & Allergy EPPS earlier this year, and they also appeared in an article we penned for Mass Market Retailer.

  1. Segregated
  2. Integrated
  3. Segregated integration

You also need to understand your customers and their preferences – do they primarily buy natural front-end products? Do they primarily purchase conventional front-end products? Or do they shop a combination of both types of products fairly equally?

A segregated approach means all products that are marketed as natural are shelved in a separate area of the store, be it a whole section or a dedicated endcap display. Natural shoppers prefer this as it is a very streamlined option, but they may miss out on products spread out in their core categories. Likewise, conventional or combination shoppers may not realize there are more options available outside of the usual sections. It also takes up some space.

An integrated approach is exactly what it sounds like. Natural products are shelved side-by-side with a conventional counterpart. This works great for conventional and combination shoppers who want to do a comparison, however it can cause some customers, particularly natural ones, to become confused about what products are “really” natural. Signage is encouraged for this approach so shoppers can easily identify the natural products.

The last approach takes the best of the other two and combines them. Within a core category, a section exists for the natural products. So instead of a natural cough syrup being placed next to its conventional counterpart, it is in a natural section within the Cold & Allergy category. This allows natural shoppers to find it easily, yet it is close enough that it is less likely to be missed by conventional or combination customers, and they can still do a comparison if they wish. It also prompts the natural shopper to walk around the entire store as opposed to staying in one section.

I encourage you to think about your shoppers and their needs. When you bring in more natural products, merchandise them in a way that will make sense to your customers. And don’t be afraid to change your approach as the natural products market continues to expand. Try some cross-merchandising when it makes sense. Call attention to new items and lines you bring in to your front-end by placing them on an endcap near the pharmacy (you’ll be amazed at the attention it draws!). The demand for naturally-based products is growing rapidly; you could be on the cutting edge of the movement in your community!