Natural Foods Merchandiser

By the Numbers: Market Stats and Sales Overview

Do cold and flu remedies sell? Will immunity be big this year? What products are people buying? Can over-the-counter prescriptions help? Get these and other questions answered in our immunity market overview.

  • From 2007 to 2008, sales of cold/cough/sore throat remedies in the U.S. grew 10.7 percent, to $4.6 billion, in food, drug, and mass stores excluding Walmart, according to Schaumburg, Ill. -based market research firm SPINS.
  • Sales of natural cold and flu remedies in supermarkets have decreased slightly between 2007 and 2009, from $59.4 million to $58.2 million, according to Chicago-based market research firm Mintel’s analysis of SPINS data.
  • Nearly a quarter of those who had coughs, colds, sore throats or flu in the past 12 months have tried homeopathic or herbal remedies, according to data from Mintel. (But although herbal and alternative remedies will likely continue to be popular, the current economic state of the U.S. may preclude any furthering of the trend, and a backsliding may even occur, due to the often more expensive nature of these types of remedies, Mintel researchers say.)
  • Mintel predicts an increase of 18 percent in sales of OTC medicines in the next five years, as consumers become increasingly reluctant to take time off work due to sickness. However, Mintel researchers note: “The U.S. recession could be a double-edged sword for OTC cough/cold remedies, driving some to the more affordable OTC aisle instead of seeing a physician, while driving others to home remedies or preventative measures instead of OTC medicines.”
  • “Mintel reports that Hispanics, who have low rates of health insurance, are more likely than other ethnicities to use home remedies and homeopathic/herbal medicines, along with OTC remedies, to treat even severe conditions like the flu. “Hispanics also tend to favor symptom-specific remedies more than other ethnicities—suggesting another possible avenue for reaching these consumers. Emphasizing efficacy for severe symptoms will be key in reaching this demographic,” researchers say. However, they note that “the language barrier for a number of Hispanics means that they are less likely to comparison shop; therefore, easy-to-read and readily identifiable brand logos will aid brand loyalty among this ethnicity. Additionally, in-store, Spanish-language cold/flu clinics sponsored by specific remedy brands will likely raise brand awareness.”
  • Sales of cough drops and syrups/sore throat liquids increased between 2006 and 2008, beneficiaries of the demand for single-symptom remedies, according to Mintel.
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