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5 0 Store Brands / December 2015 / www.storebrands.info pper respiratory tract ailments are oh-so common. So is self- treatment. Sales of over-the-counter (OTC) cough, cold, flu and allergy remedies grew 16 percent between 2009 and 2014 to reach $7.9 billion, according to global market research firm Mintel in its April report, "Cough, Cold, Flu and Allergy Remedies — US." Private brands capture 30 percent of this market. But growth was driven by OTC introductions of Allegra and Nasacort, the report says. Rough flu seasons such as those that occurred over the past three winters have also contributed to increased sales, notes London-based Euromonitor International in its April report, "Cough, Cold and Allergy (Hay Fever) Remedies in the US." Most adults reported having had a cough or sore throat in the past year, Mintel found. Forty percent of adults reported having the flu, while two-thirds reported having an indoor or outdoor allergy. More than 80 percent of adults who had a cough, cold, sore throat or the flu during that time period used traditional OTC remedies, while about 75 percent of those suffering from allergies used such a remedy, according to Mintel. In addition to OTC usage, Mintel found that about 70 percent of consumers employ alternative treatment methods that include bed rest, herbs, homeopathic remedies, vitamins or prescriptions. Significant minorities of adults do not treat their symptoms, the report adds. Euromonitor predicts modest growth in this competitive category, projecting sales to reach $8.8 billion by 2019. Trends with traction New product launches have helped to maintain strong growth in the category, Euromonitor states. Category growth will continue as a result of new product introductions and innovations, Mintel says, pointing to the OTC conversion of Nasacort and the 2015 launch of Flonase. Euromonitor notes that when genetic changes in the prevalent flu virus strains make vaccines less effective and exacerbate the number of cases, consumers are more apt to turn to OTC cough and cold remedies to manage their symptoms. Fast-working products with long-lasting symptom relief are most important to consumers, Mintel reports. About two-thirds of those surveyed said they look to a professional for OTC recommendations. Mintel advises seeking out product testimonials from doctors and other professionals to market those products more effectively. Trends on the horizon Product loyalty is not strong in this category, according to Mintel. "There is reasonable opportunity for OTC market participants to influence the purchase behavior of OTC purchases. Only about half of adults typically choose the same remedies time after time. About one in five specifically agree that they like to experiment and try new remedies," the company states in its April report. Young adults age 25 to 34 are most likely to experiment, the report says. Euromonitor also notes a growing movement toward prevention, reporting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several retailers in varying channels are actively promoting flu vaccines. The company also reports that a "growing culture of cold etiquette" is encouraging the populace to halt the spread of illnesses through the use of supplements that purport to strengthen the immune system. — D. Cvetan Nothing to sneeze at sales of over-the-counter allergy, cold and flu remedies are expected to reach $8.8 billion by 2019 in the United states; innovative brands will have an edge. OTC: AlleRgy/COld/flU