Antacids/Laxatives: Catering to a loyal customer base

Stockchecker on antacids.


Catering to a loyal customer base

The Hamacher Resource Group provided the information for this article. The Milwaukee company provides marketing services and business intelligence to the healthcare industry. Wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers partner with Hamacher Resource Group to improve their profitability. For more information, visit

One of the most productive categories for independent drugstores–antacids/laxatives–ranks third in dollar sales, contributing just under 10% of the outlet’s total health and beauty care (HBC) sales.

Within the drugstore market, which includes chain outlets, drugstores own 55% of sales, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI). How large is the antacid/laxative market? Total category sales for the 52 weeks ending April 2004 reached $2.5 billion, of which drugstores contributed $1.38 billion.

Drugstores Food stores Mass-merchandisers55% 37% 8%

Source: IRI. 52 weeks ended 4/19/04

Subcategory contribution

Within the Hamacher file, subcategory contributions are calculated by combining unit and dollar sales. The resulting number determines how the category is merchandised. Based on our calculations, as of July 21, 2004, here is how Hamacher breaks down the subcategory contributions within the antacid/laxative category for independent drugstores:



Antacids and acid blockers: The story of the year has centered on the introduction and success of Prilosec OTC. The rankings of Prilosec’s SKUs within the department show how the brand has taken the subcategory by storm. What’s more, Prilosec’s popularity continues to grow.

ProductHamacher rankIRI rank



As of March 21, 2004, IRI reported 4,846,494 unit sales of these three SKUs, which translates into dollar sales of $72 million. Factor in an estimate for Wal-Mart, and Prilosec’s sales are pushing well over $120 million during its first six months on the market. Sales figures alone put this OTC version of the former prescription drug in the blockbuster category.

More subcategory facts:

•As a whole, the acid blocker subcategory generated about $780 million in sales, with Pepcid, Prilosec OTC, and Zantac 75 holding the top three market shares among brand families.

•Within the antacid tablets subcategory, Tums led the way, with over $120 million in sales.

•Private-label brands contributed $136 million in sales and 25 million units to the total. They are key players within the antacid/acid blocker subcategory.

Laxatives: Drugstores shine in this area. The medicinal nature of laxatives continues to squarely position the pharmacy as the place of purchase–as patients look to the pharmacist for recommendations on use. While the subcategory totaled $662 million in drugstores, this number represents a decline of 5% over last year, a perplexing turn of events since all predictions indicated the category was poised for growth. The market was counting on additional sales from low-carb dieters to energize laxative sales. The jury is still out on that prediction, but there is still hope.

Private-label offerings increased their unit sales and so decreased dollar sales within the laxative category. Sales of private-label bulk laxatives grew 5.5%; sales of private-label overnight laxatives grew 21%. This 21% gives private label a 44% market share of the overnight business. Such a strong showing caused sales of branded overnight laxatives to decline 11% versus a year ago. Phillips now places a distant second, with a market share of 12%.

Capitalizing on your opportunity with merchandising

Private labels: These products are key to the success of your antacid/laxative department. Private label’s share of the gastrointestinal liquid and gastrointestinal tablet subcategories is 20% and 21%, respectively. Be sure to offer private-label alternatives for every subcategory, especially bulk fiber laxatives, stool softeners, overnight laxatives, and antacids. Position these products to the left of their branded counterparts, and highlight the savings with compare-and-save signage.

Antidiarrheals: Hamacher merchandises multisymptom products and antidiarrheals in the middle of the department, forming a natural transition from laxatives to antacids. These transition items are destination products, and by drawing the customer’s eye to the middle of the department, you create the opportunity for additional sales within neighboring subcategories.

Bulk fiber laxatives: Given the size and weight of these items, Hamacher merchandises them on lower shelves. It’s important to offer the right assortment and stay in stock. Why?

•22% of consumers will go to another store if you do not have their product in stock.

•Bulk fiber laxative customers plan their purchase ahead of time.

Therefore, an assortment that does not fit your customer base or that is plagued with out-of-stocks will drive your customers to other locations.

The antacid/laxative category can be very lucrative because its customer base is so loyal. However, to succeed, you need the right product mix, at the right price, in the right location. And stay in stock. The repeat sales of these loyal customers can become a mainstay of your department and your drugstore.


New items—Antacids/laxatives (10/03-7/04)


Benefiber Chew Tabs 36, 100 ct Orange CreamNovartis
Ceralyte 50 RTD 4-pk LemonCumberland Pharmaceuticals
Ceralyte 50 RTM 30, 50 gm Mixed BerryCumberland Pharmaceuticals
Ceralyte 70 RTM 30, 50 gm LemonCumberland Pharmaceuticals
Gentle Naturals Tummy Soother 4 oz.Del Pharmaceuticals
Little Tummys Gas Relief 1.5 oz.Vetco Pharmaceuticals
Maalox Total Stomach Relief 12 oz. PMint, StrawNovartis
Mylanta Extra Strength Liquid 12 oz. OrangeMcNeil Consumer
Pepcid AC Maximum Strength Tabs 5, 25, 50.ctMcNeil Consumer
Pepto-Bismol Cherry 8, 12, 16 oz.P&G-Health
Phillips Caplets 24 ctBayer Inc.
Rolaids Maximum Strength LinePfizer
Senna Prompt EZ-Caps 90 ctKonsyl Pharmaceuticals
Tummy Chews Antacid/Antigas 24 ctImprovita
Tums Smooth Dissolve 45 ct Tropical SmoothieGlaxoSmithKline
Ultra-Fiber Caps 150 ctAlva-Amco


Antacids/laxatives never-out list*

Beano Enzyme Tablets 30 ct

Fleet Enema 4.5 oz. Adult

Fleet Phospho Soda 3 oz. Ginger/Lemon

Imodium A-D Caplet 12 ct

Mylanta Liquid 12 oz. Original

Pepto-Bismol 8 oz. Original

Prilosec Tablets 42 ct

PL Antacid Liquid 12 oz. Original

PL Senna Laxative Tablets 100 ct

Tums 150 ct Assorted

Zantac 75 Tablets 10 ct

*Partial list provided by Hamacher Resource Group


Sandra Levy. Antacids/Laxatives: Catering to a loyal customer base.

Drug Topics

Sep. 13, 2004;148.