Drug outlets remain leader in laxative sales

stockchecker on laxatives



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 .

When it comes to purchasing personal items in incontinence, family planning, feminine hygiene, or laxative products, the majority of customers name drugstores as the outlet of choice. Why? As patient counselors, drugstore pharmacists build a trust with their patients. This counseling relationship puts people at ease. Customers feel comfortable talking to their pharmacist about personal issues, like laxative use.

Category sales

Currently laxative sales exceed $750 million. Bulk fiber forms and stimulants generated nearly 76% of category sales. Salines and softeners made up the remaining 24%.

Bulk Fiber41%

Drugstores, the outlet of choice, claimed a 46% market share of the category. Mass-merchandisers followed with 30%, and food stores captured 24%.

Outlet$Sales (000)% ChangeOutlet share% Change

Category trends

Customers aged 55 and older generated more than 60% of laxative sales; therefore, with the aging of the population, sales potential looks promising. According to Proctor & Gamble, if category growth continues to rise as the population ages, the laxative category could reach $854 million in 2010. That’s 29% more than today’s category dollars.

While the aging of America may act as a catalyst for sales, physician recommendations still occupy the No. 1 position for driving category purchases. According to a Baseline Rx Tracking report, over 3.5 million recommendations are made annually.

Sales of bulk fiber laxatives are growing. The number of people who use fiber daily is increasing. Plus, the soluble fiber from psyllium husk has been proven to lower cholesterol levels, and the FDA has approved using this fiber to lower the risk of heart disease. Manufacturers have capitalized on these findings by marketing products containing psyllium as heart-healthy, opening the door to a new customer base whose use of fiber is aimed at lowering cholesterol rather than regularity.

Once available only in bulk form, soluble fiber is now available in pill and wafer forms. This is great news for patients who find swallowing bulk fiber mixes difficult.

Merchandising notes


We merchandise antacids and laxatives in a combined department highlighted by shelf identification strips. Laxatives and miscellaneous stomach remedies (Imodium, Pepto-Bismol) represent 50% of the planogram.

The top three shelves are dedicated to stimulants (Senokot, Ex-Lax, Correctol), smaller-size oral salines (castor oil, Fleet Phospho-Soda), suppositories, stool softeners, and antidiarrheals.

The bottom three shelves are dedicated to bulk fiber laxatives, milk of magnesias, and enemas. Even though their sales warrant higher shelf placement, the size of these destination items makes them candidates for the lower shelves. Because they are destination items—items that customers come to your store to purchase—placing them on lower shelves does not hurt their sales.

Include private labels in your mix: They produce margins 15%-20% higher than branded products. These items produced $186 million in sales over the last 12 months. Because consumer confidence in private-label items is high, price-conscious seniors won’t hesitate to switch to a less expensive laxative, especially since these products are consumed daily.

Place signs offering pharmacist assistance and informational material throughout the department.

Personal items, like laxatives, give you the opportunity to solidify your role as a valued and trusted advisor. Use this opportunity to build a strong relationship with customers.


 Large dept.Medium dept.Small dept.
Linear feet453416
Number of SKUs16813365
Estimated sales per year$30,700$27,700$18,900
Estimated inventory retail$4,500$3,700$2,250
Retail inventory turns6.87.48.2


Citrucel Caplet 100GlaxoSmithKline
Hydrocil Instant 300gNumark Labs
Imodium Advanced Caplets 12, 18, 30, 42McNeil Consumer Healthcare
Little Tummys Laxative Drops 1ozVetco Pharmaceuticals
Laci Tea 12 Laxative TeaNatrol
Ultra-Fiber Caplets 63Alva-Amco
Ultra-Fiber Caplets 63Cholesterol BalanceAlva-Amco
Ultra-Fiber Caplets 63Regularity BalanceAlva-Amco


Use this never-out list to monitor your in-stock condition. The items listed account for more than 50% of the dollar sales in the laxatives category. An out-of-stock on any of these items represents a significant loss of sales.

___Citrucel 16.9 oz S/F Orange

___Citrucel 16 oz Orange

___Fibercon Caplets 90

___Metamucil 48 ds 10 oz ST or SF

___Metamucil 72 ds 15 oz ST or SF

___Metamucil 30 ct S/S Orange

___Metamucil 30 ct S/S S/F Orange

___Perdiem 250 g Regular

___Dulcolax Suppository 4c

___Correctol Tab 30

___Dulcolax Tab 10

___Ex-Lax Chocolate Tab 18

___Ex-Lax Pills 24 Maximum Relief

___Senokot Tab 100

___Fleet Phospho-Soda 3 oz Ginger-Lemon

___Phillips Milk of Magnesia 12 oz Mint, Original

___Colace 100mg Cap 60

___Senokot S Tab 30

___Imodium A-D Caplet 6, 12

___Imodium Advanced Chew Tab 12

___Imodium A-D Liquid 2oz, 4oz

___Pepto-Bismol Original 4oz, 8oz

___Pepto-Bismol Max Strength 4oz, 8oz


This list includes the most popular and price-sensitive SKUs in the laxatives category. Use it to see if your prices on these key items fall within the average everyday retail range.

ItemEveryday price range
Imodium A-D Liquid 2oz$4.49 - $5.89
Pepto-Bismol 8 oz Original$2.99 - $4.93
Imodium A-D Caplet 6$2.73 - $3.69
Correctol Tab 30$4.19 - $5.89
Dulcolax Tab 25$5.69 - $7.99
Ex-Lax Pills 24 Maximum Relief$5.59 - $7.09
Citrucel 16 oz Orange$7.39 - $9.49
Metamucil 48 ds 10 oz ST or SF$6.99 - $9.63

Sandra Levy. Drug outlets remain leader in laxative sales.

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