Old man winter, flu bugs, and drugstore sales

stockchecker on cough and cold and flu cateogories


Old Man Winter, flu bugs, and drugstore sales

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 .

Harder to predict than other categories, sales in the cough and cold department rest in the icy hands of Old Man Winter—and on the wings of the flu bugs that blow across the country. A long, hard winter, complete with various flu epidemics, paves the way for success in drugstore cough and cold departments. A short, warm season, devoid of serious flu bugs, can dramatically undermine category sales. Cough and cold holds great potential in drugstores: Its sales trail only the No. 1-ranked vitamin department. And within independent drugstores, the cough and cold department owns the No. 1 position, with an 11.23% share of total sales.

Cough and cold's most impressive subcategory during the past year has been lip preparations. Sales have increased 23% in drugstores, a resurgence attributed to the category's new medicinal nature. Abreva from GlaxoSmithKline started the trend with cold sore products that heal as well as relieve pain. Since then, several manufacturers have introduced lip therapies with similar properties.

Subcategory sales (excluding Wal-Mart data)

Total category ($3.182 billion)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Cold/allergy/sinus/liquids/powders ($601.1 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Cold/allergy/sinus/tablets ($1.3 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Cough drops ($354 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Cough syrup ($280 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Lip preparations ($272 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Nasal Products ($375 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


Nasal Products ($375 million)

OutletSales (000)% of category


New items

Several new items could substantially affect category sales this season. Wyeth's Advil Children's Cold, Pfizer's Benamist Allergy Prevention Spray, and McNeil Consumer Healthcare's Tylenol Simply Stuffy and Simply Cough boast strong marketing budgets, brand recognition, and a history of successful product launches.

Two innovative items to watch closely are Airborne Effervescent from Night McDowell Labs and TheraFlu Vapor Stick from Novartis.

• Airborne Effervescent is an immune system booster designed for people entering tight spaces— airplanes, offices, classrooms, theaters, and subways— places where cold viruses could easily pass from one person to another. Airborne Effervescent should be taken before entering crowded, potentially germ-infested environments or at the first sign of a cold.

• TheraFlu Vapor Stick is a gel that combines a cough suppressant with an external analgesic. Roll the gel onto the skin like a deodorant. Its no-mess delivery system leaves hands clean, not sticky. Once the external analgesic is applied to aching muscles, the gel's vapors help suppress coughs. TheraFlu Vapor Stick is available in menthol or herbal scents.


• Private labels are very important to success in cough and cold, so carry a wide variety in each subcategory. Their higher margins help your profits, and customers value the price break, especially after numerous visits during a bad flu season.

• Expand your selection of lip preparations to take advantage of their strong sales growth. Also, be prepared to answer questions at the pharmacy counter as medicated lip products become more specialized.

• Move adult and children's liquids next to the cough drops to inspire add-on sales. Plus, reposition the Robitussin and Nyquil lines. The latest research says getting them off the bottom shelves boosts their already-strong sales.

Let's see what Old Man Winter does with the upcoming cough and cold season. The key for your drugstore is to be prepared either way. A well-stocked category with plenty of private-label items not only adds to your profits, it gives shoppers options and keeps cost-conscious customers returning. On average, customers make six purchases in the category each year. It pays to have the stock they want.

Cough and cold summary

 Large dept.Medium dept.Small dept.
Linear feet Number of SKUs Estimated sales per year Estimated inventory retail Retail inventory turns140 475 $67,000 $9,000 7.584 304 $57,000 $6,900 860 220 $50,000 $5,600 9


New cough and cold items

Advil Children's Cold 4 oz. Grape Advil Cold & Sinus Liquid Gels 16, 32 Airborne Effervescent Tab 10 Airborne Gummi Lozenge 24 Airborne Jr Effervescent Tab 10 Alka-Seltzer Plus Nose & Throat Effer 20 Benamist Allergy Prevention Spray .44 oz., .88 oz. Blistex Clear Advance Lip Protectant Chap Stick Cold Sore Therapy .25 oz. Chap Stick Nose Soother .15 oz. Cold-Eeze Gum 20 Box, Bag Cinnamon Cold-Eeze Lozenges 18 Box, Bag Honey/Lemon Cold-Eeze Tab 48 Sugar Free Comtrex Line of Cold Products Dimetapp Cough & Cold 4 oz. Long-Acting Fisherman's Friend Tin 35 Apple/Cin Halls Fruit Breezers Line Robitussin PM Cough & Cold 4 oz. Robitussin Vitamin C Drops 25 Raspberry Simply Cough Children's 4 oz. Simply Stuffy Children's 4 oz. Tavist Nighttime Allergy Cap 24, 48 TheraFlu Vapor Stick 1.7 oz. Herb, Menthol Triaminic Soft Chew 18 Chest Congestion Tylenol Cold Day/Night Cap 24 Tylenol Sinus Day/Night Cap 24Wyeth Wyeth Night McDowell Labs Night McDowell Labs Night McDowell Labs Bayer Pfizer Blistex Wyeth Wyeth Quigley Quigley Quigley Bristol-Myers Wyeth Mentholatum Adams Wyeth Wyeth McNeil Consumer McNeil Consumer Novartis Novartis Novartis McNeil Consumer McNeil Consumer


Cough and cold never-out list

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

____ Delsym 12 Hour Cough 3 oz.

____ Robitussin DM 4 oz.

____ Tylenol Cold Multi-Symptom Cap 24 ct.

____ PL Tussin Cough Syrup DM 4 oz., 8 oz.

____ Benadryl Allergy Kapseal 24 ct.

____ Sudafed 30 mg Tab 24 ct.

____ Afrin Spray 15 ml Original

____ Zicam Nasal Gel Cold Remedy .5 oz.

____ PL Saline Nasal Spray 45 ml

____ Chap Stick .15 oz. Regular & Cherry

____ Abreva Cold Sore Cream 2 g

____ Primatene Mist W/Mouthpiece .5 oz.


Sandra Levy. Old man winter, flu bugs, and drugstore sales.

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