Category Close-Up: Cough/cold Products

Article excerpt

The information in this department is provided by Information Resources Inc. (IRI), a marketing research and software company based in Chicago. The sales data on specific OTC and HBC categories are based on scanning data collected from drugstores, food stores, and mass-merchandiser outlets. IRI's data for this report are collected from a sample of 2,700 supermarkets, 500 drugstores, and 250 mass-merchandisers.

The cold and flu season is upon us, and patients are seeking relief from their symptoms. What types of remedies do people prefer? Which products are growing in popularity, and which "old standards" are losing ground? Data collected by Information Resources Inc. may be helpful to pharmacists evaluating their product selections as they prepare for another season of sniffling customers.

IRI, a marketing research and software company based in Chicago, organizes cough/cold products into three major categories. While total dollar and unit sales were up in the cold/allergy liquid category, total dollar and unit sales were down in the other two: the cold and sinus tablets/ cough drops category and the cough syrup category. Despite decreasing sales, the cold and sinus tablets/cough drops category still outdid the other two categories in dollar and unit sales, with dollar sales of almost $2 billion. The cough syrup category also experienced declines in dollar and unit sales but still managed to achieve respectable sales.

Dollar and unit sales in all three categories were down in drugstores but were steadily rising in mass-merchandising outlets. Increases and decreases in dollar and unit sales varied from category to category in food stores. Cold/allergy liquids In the cold/allergy liquids category (which consists of cold, allergy, and sinus liquids/powders), total dollar sales were up 1.3%, to $508.8 million. Drugstores dominated this category, with dollar sales more than double those in mass-merchandisers. Despite the fact that drugstores contributed $220.3 million worth of sales to this category, dollar sales of these items in drugstores declined 3.0%. While dollar sales dropped in drugstores, food stores and mass-merchandisers experienced gains in this category. Dollar sales of cough/allergy liquids rose 1.7% in food stores, to reach $185.5 million. Mass-merchandisers experienced significant gains, with dollar sales rising 11.4%, to $103.0 million.

Total unit sales in the cold/allergy liquids category were up 3.1 %, for a total of 119.7 million. Again, sales of these items were highest in drugstores. However, drugstores were the only retail outlets to experience a decline in unit sales in this category.

Unit sales of these items dropped 2.0%, to 46.6 million, but rose 3.5%, to 44.3 million, in food stores. Though unit sales of these items in mass-merchandisers were behind the other two retail outlets, they did increase dramatically. Mass-merchandisers saw an 11.9% increase, resulting in 28.8 million unit sales of cold/allergy liquids. Cold and sinus tablet/cough drops Cold and sinus tablets/cough drops were the best sellers in the cough/cold product selection. Total dollar sales reached an impressive $1.9 billion, despite a 4.8% decrease. Drugstores accounted for most of those sales, with dollar sales reaching $850.3 million, despite a sharp 9.0% decrease. Food stores also experienced a decline, with dollar sales dropping 4.6%, to $667.0 million. Mass-merchandisers were the only ones to experience growth, achieving dollar sales of $433.8 million in this category after a 4.0% increase.

Total unit sales of cold and sinus tablets/cough drops reached 664.6 million, following a 4.6% decrease. Drugstore unit sales in this category were down 9.3%, to 265.8 million. Food stores also suffered losses in this category, with unit sales dropping 4.9%, to 233.6 million. Mass-merchandisers experienced growth, with unit sales reaching 165.2 million, up 4.4%.

The cold and sinus tablets/cough drops category consists of two smaller groups of products: cold/allergy/sinus tablets/packets and cough drops/ squares. …