It’s a painful time for the over-the-counter (OTC) remedies market. According to Mintel, the OTC pain remedies market was worth £617m last year, which is down 4% in real terms since 2008. And the OTC cold/flu remedies market, which was worth £505m in 2010, has also declined in real terms since 2008, by 7%. The research company says the main reason for this is aggressive discounting and multibuy offers that have helped grow volume at the expense of value sales. In addition, the recession has resulted in consumers looking to cut costs, with over half of them happy to purchase cheaper own-label OTC medication over branded products.


However, there is some good news. Namely one in 10 consumers take medication when they get the slightest feeling that they might be about to come down with something. Those in full-time employment are the most likely to medicate straight away at the first sign of symptoms, compared to those who are unemployed. And they are looking for quick and fast relief so that they can carry on with their busy working lives. Many of these people will be your customers filling up with petrol on their way to work and picking up a headache or cold remedy to help get them through the day.


According to Reckitt Benckiser, shoppers buying OTC products from forecourts are usually in need of immediate relief. This need overrides other decision factors which would be taken into consideration if they were stood in a pharmacy. The company says product choice and price become much less important so there is a huge opportunity to drive category growth by listing the key distress-led categories in a more effective solution.


For example, with Nurofen, instead of offering a basic pack, retailers should have an Express product because, at a higher value per dose than standard ibuprofen, it offers the shopper a better product while giving the retailer a better margin. It is critical to stock the right product formats for example Lemsip capsules are a much more convenient solution for on-the-go dosing than Lemsip sachets.


According to Mintel, the adult oral analgesics category dominates the OTC pain remedies market, and as such accounted for 68% of total value sales in 2010. But it is colds and flu that are the ailments suffered by the highest number of adults, with almost seven in 10 falling prey to symptoms in 2010. Since 2009, there has been a significant increase in the number of adults suffering from cold/flu, with the extremely cold weather during winter 2010 contributing to a leap in the number of sufferers.


Sales of OTC cold/flu remedies are obviously seasonal, with demand peaking between September and January when the chance of catching a cold or flu is far higher.


At this time of year it’s imperative that you are in stock of cough and cold remedies. Though most of these products will be kept behind the till area, you need to make sure your customers know you stock them.


Make sure they are given prominent facings and that you use any point-of-sale material that’s supplied to you by manufacturers.






Top Tips


l Ensure ’beacon brands’ that are TV advertised, such as Covonia, are allocated prime space at the expense of lower-selling products.

l Take advantage of free support. Contact the manufacturer or your local sales rep to order free point-of-sale material.

l Make sure you have enough stock available for the peak cough and cold season. Source: Thornton & Ross