It’s been a hard day at work, it’s late, and now you have a splitting headache, but the cupboard is bare of all painkillers, the chemist is shut, and who wants to park up at Sainsbury’s just for a packet of paracetamol? This is probably a recognisable scenario for many forecourt customers, which is why over-the-counter medicines have become a must-do category.

And as forecourt shops continue to transform themselves into convenience stores, other healthcare products and toiletries are jostling for space on the shelves. Be it toothpaste, toilet roll or shampoo, forecourt shoppers increasingly expect to see these products available in your store.

Tina Hird, senior trading manager for Spar UK, says: “Shopping habits are changing and more and more consumers are topping up their supermarket shop at forecourt sites – it’s convenient, it’s quick, the range is limited compared to a supermarket, but covers off most categories and a lot of consumers are prepared to compromise on their purchases.

“Forecourt retailers should stock branded toiletries, dictated by limited space, higher retail value than own brands, greater consumer trust in brands and the massive advertising support given to brands,” adds Hird. “Purchases in this sector will be mainly distress, as toiletries purchases are generally planned at the consumer’s preferred destination – Superdrug, Boots, multiples etc – therefore stocking the brand leader in each major category will satisfy the maximum number of potential sales.”

When it comes to merchandising, Hird explains that healthcare products should be visible to maximise sales. “It’s no good hiding lines behind the counter because consumers will assume you don’t stock them,” she says. “The range shouldn’t be limited to analgesics – consumers are now used to purchasing a wide range of medicines from the major multiples and will expect to see a wider range in a forecourt site.”

Because space is often at a premium the key to a successful toiletries and healthcare fixture on the forecourt is to offer a breadth of range, not depth, to avoid wasting space and duplication, claims Hird. The top medicine brands for the total market are Nurofen, Lemsip, Anadin, Gaviscon, and Calpol, while Spar’s top five brands are Anadin, Lemsip, Strepsils, Beechams, and Veno’s. With feminine hygiene products, brands account for 83% of category turnover for the total grocery market – and in the convenience sector, Tampax tampons and Always towels are brand leaders.

Other top brands within the toiletries category – and Spar’s strongest performers in these sectors – are Gillette and Lynx in men’s toiletries, Sure deodorant, Pantene haircare, Colgate top toothpaste, Imperial Leather soap, Radox bath and shower products, and Olay and Nivea in the skincare sector.


The total cold and flu category has grown by 4% in value, according to IRI data for the total grocery sector. The ‘Cold and Flu in Grocery 2004’ report from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) says: “The market has been driven by successful new product development, range extensions, compelling advertising and strong promotional activity – with incremental sitings in-store gained through the use of clip strips. Price is not always a consideration, with products often being a distress purchase.”

The key months for cold and flu remedies are December and January so GSK advises retailers to create off-shelf displays to encourage impulse sales, avoid out-of-stocks, tempt non-treaters and drive premium products. Big brands such as Beechams and Lemsip should be at eye level acting as a signpost to the consumer, as should growth sectors such as decongestants and complete relief.

Both Beechams and Lemsip have invested in a sizable marketing package to support the brands this year. Total spend for Beechams is likely to reach £5m by the end of 2004, with continued investment in new product development and pharmacy. And Lemsip has spent £7.5m in an advertising campaign to support Lemsip Max Cold & Flu.

Within the painkillers sector, Nurofen, Anadin and Panadol are the key must-stock brands. According to GSK’s pain relief report published in August, pain relief is the largest OTC market with a penetration of 72%, and on average an individual buys pain relief products 5.5 times a year.

The GSK report says that value growth is being driven by premium products and new product development such as faster claims, new formats, maximum strength and combination products.

Last month Panadol kicked off a three-week national campaign to support Panadol Actifast. The TV activity is being followed this month by a two-week, six-sheet poster campaign with around 2,500 sites nationwide. Together the TV and poster activity amount to a £1.5m spend on the Panadol brand over the final quarter of the year.

According to GSK, since its launch two years ago, Panadol ActiFast has made a significant contribution to the Panadol brand and it is currently outperforming the market with year-on-year growth of 6% compared to a market decline of 4%.

The heartburn and indigestion remedies market is growing by 3.1% year on year and is now worth £123.8m in value terms in the total grocery sector, according to GSK’s report on stomach, heartburn and indigestion published in May. Key brands are Rennie, Zantac, Gaviscon and Remegel.

The sector has also seen some innovation and marketing activity. Rennie was back on TV from September 20 for a four-week period in a campaign worth £1m and designed to highlight Rennie Soft Chews as a tasty modern alternative to traditional indigestion tablets. Soft Chews are said to bring effective relief in a soft and chewy format with a freshmint taste. An impulse pack of eight chews has a rrp of £1.15.


Condoms are another key healthcare must-stock, and taking the embarrassment out of buying condoms – by putting them on-shelf and not behind the counter where shoppers need to ask for them – will help drive sales.

The condom sector has seen much innovation in recent years with brands introducing products claiming everything from extra pleasure and greater sensation to more adventure. Mates, for example, has launched the Xplore range of condoms. Targeting 16-21 year olds, Xplore includes two varieties – Clubmix and Easy-fit. Clubmix is a variety pack of three ‘adventurous’ Mates condoms, while Easy-fit is designed to make using condoms as easy as possible.

MTV Condomi, meanwhile, is a new range of condoms developed by MTV, Viacom and Condomi Health. With over 17% of condoms purchased on a needs basis, the independent retail trade is a key distribution channel for the brand, claims the company.

MTV Condomi will be available in three variants for different audiences: Hetero, Female and Androgynous – all of which are available to independents through Dhamecha Cash & Carry. A pack of three has a rrp of £1.99.